Saturday, July 30th, 2005

The Sky Above, The Field Below

This may have been the first time I’ve ever watched a movie exclusively because I enjoyed the soundtrack. The completist in me demanded that I get the Friday Night Lights soundtrack to augment my Explosions In The Sky collection – the Austin-based instrumental combo provided the score for the high school football film. Though it reprised some of the songs from The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place, the mixes/arrangements and edits were different enough that the soundtrack had its own personality and wasn’t redundant. The Daniel Lanois instrumental was also quite nice and surprisingly fit very well with the Explosions material. No comment on the Bad Company track, though.

Anyway, having enjoyed the soundtrack, I was curious to see how the music worked in the context of the film. Most sports films utilized horrid, cliched classic rock anthems – how would EITS’ sound compliment the film? Quite well. For a sports film, Friday Night Lights had a unique mood and direction which the soundtrack definitely enhanced. Haunting and elegiac for the most part, though explosive – pardon the pun – when called for. In some sequences, it seemed like the film was simply acting as a video for the audio. A very odd video, granted, but a music video nonetheless.

But getting back to the film, I particularly liked how the culture of high school football in texas was neither outright celebrated nor condemned – it was simply portrayed as a matter of fact, and somewhat ambivalently so. Being as far removed as humanly possible from being a smalltown Texan football fan, a lot of it was completely alien to me and rather fascinating. I’m not big on football – I understand it well enough to watch, not that I do – but will admit it makes for excellent cinema. Friday Night Lights stands apart from your stereotypical sports film by stepping back from the predictable “scrappy team of underdogs does good” angle (though being based on a true story certainly helped keep them in check) and takes a more meditative, philosophical approach – Billy Bob Thornton is particularly zen as the high school coach. Sports films aren’t a staple of my cinematic diet, but I have to say – this one was pretty damn good.

Today’s Sufjan Stevens is an interview with Nerve. Link thanks to Dreams Of Horses.

The Newport Mercury profiles recent Rhode Island transplant Ted Leo. Ted and his Pharmacists are in Toronto September 29 at the Mod Club and hope to have their new album out around February of next year. Link via Bradley’s Almanac.

The oft-delayed Mazzy Star anthology now has another release target – January 2006 – and a name: Unreflected: The Best of Mazzy Star. It will be available in both standard CD or deluxe CD/DVD packages.

This Rubber Soul tribute album is pretty freakin’ sweet. It’s called This Bird Has Flown – A 40th Anniversary Tribute to the Beatles’ Rubber Soul and is out on October 25.

More contests! I’m going to help some lucky Torontonians plan out their live music schedule next week by giving away passes to see either the Magnolia Electric Co next Friday (August 5), X country side-project The Knitters on Sunday (August 7) or Smog on Monday (August 8). I’ll have the details up on the contests page later today, so check back and when you see the banner up top, make with the clicky.

np – Crooked Fingers / Dignity And Shame

By : Frank Yang at 10:14 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. suckingalemon says:

    im more of a fan about movies about small towns than football stories, your review got me interested.

    and good deal with the contests, all three shows are good, ill most likely be trying for the knitters.


  2. Patrick says:

    Seeing as I came from the Permian Basin, the same geographic region as the Odessa-Permian team in the movie I can vouch that out there football is practically bigger than Jesus. Our basketball coach always used to scream out "What in the name of high school football…" as sort of a joke towards that.

    I haven’t seen the movie yet but I might just go rent it, my weekend is shot anyways. I shall then relive my glory years of getting picked on by cocky football players. Thanks Frank.

  3. Frank says:

    Ha – Sorry if I dredged up any bad memories, Patrick. It’s funny though – the film portrays the players as insecure, vulnerable and sypathetic, so it’s easy to forget that they were also the mortal enemies of folks like yourself and myself in high school.

    Perhaps I need to see Revenge Of The Nerds to remind myself of the natural order of things.

  4. Rachel says:

    Friday Night Lights is required reading in many schools in Texas. Scary, huh?

  5. LB says:

    Hey Frank, we played in a band once – it’s Laura! I just wanted to poke my head in and say "hello, it’s been a while, howzitgoing, etc," so there you have it.

    Also, it is my firm belief that you should try to attend the Weird Al tribute at the Bagel on Friday August 5th, but that’s just me. A screening of UHF and cheap beer? I’m on antibiotics and I’m still into it. :)

  6. John Kenyon says:

    Great timing; I just watched Friday Night Lights this weekend, and made sure to watch the credits to see who did the music. I’d heard of but never heard Explosions in the Sky, and immediately went to check out their music. Both of their Temporary Residence discs are on eMusic, so I pulled them off for a listen.

    It was refreshing to see a movie where the director chose something other than bombastic rap metal to accompany the hard hits of football. Only once did the music veer away from contemporaneous rap and hair metal (for the music integral to scenes, not the EITS stuff) and the effect was jarring.