Various Artists: Going the Distance Soundtrack

RIYL: hip new indie rock, your kids

If Drew Barrymore and Justin Long make a movie together, you better believe that they are going to see to it that the soundtrack is stuffed with bands so hip it hurts, and that is exactly what Going the Distance is. Indeed, some people may view a band’s inclusion on this soundtrack as a sign that said band or artist is no longer cool, and it’s officially time to stop listening to them. If you’re friends with one of those people, do yourself a favor: stop being friends with them.

All kidding aside (Psssst! We weren’t kidding), the soundtrack plays out much like the one for “500 Days of Summer,” blending cutting-edge indie acts like the Boxer Rebellion (they’re here a whopping three times, but there’s a reason for that – they’re a key piece to the movie’s plot) with first-gen alt-rock bands like the Cure, the Pretenders and the Replacements. The end result is a more enjoyable experience than the movie itself, consistently engaging and high-brow. (Don’t get us started on the spray tanning scene.) It’s most likely to appeal to alt-rock suburbanites in their 30s and 40s, and that might sound like a death knell on paper, but here’s the thing: there are tons of people who fit that description, and while they may no longer be the hippest demographic in the world, they’re one of the most passionate groups of music fans left that actually still pay for music. And they love stuff that makes them feel cool again. Well played. (Water Tower Music 2010)

Click to buy Going the Distance from Amazon


Eels: End Times

RIYL: Grant Lee Buffalo, Parthenon Huxley, Jonathan Rundman

Here’s a record that lives up to its title. Eels frontman Mark “E” Everett has never exactly sounded peppy, but on the band’s eighth album, End Times, he sounds like a hollowed-out husk, strumming his guitar while he patiently waits for the sweet relief of the apocalypse. And despite Everett’s well-earned rep as a fairly dour dude, he came by this set’s crappy mood the hard way – yes, friends, End Times is the latest addition to the time-honored rock & roll tradition of the divorce album. Where some divorce albums sound angry or sarcastic, E copes with his pain pretty much the way you’d guess – namely, by opening his miserable veins all over these 14 songs. The story starts, appropriately enough, with “The Beginning,” a wistful look back at what almost was; 11 tracks later, E’s curled into the fetal position, telling us “I Need a Mother.” Alternating between haunting ballads and howling psychobilly stomps, all topped off by Everett’s not-quite-tuneful vocals, Times is relatively harrowing stuff; the closest the album comes to a single is the vaguely jaunty “Mansions of Los Feliz.”

EELS New Photo

Musically, End Times might be the Eels’ sparest collection; according to the band’s press release, it was largely self-recorded, on an old four-track in Everett’s basement, and it shows. Though some arrangements tend toward the fleshed-out (“A Line in the Dirt” even includes a little brass), the overall effect is that of a solo confessional. This is wholly appropriate, given the material, but it also means that, even in the context of the Eels’ other albums, End Times is the kind of thing you really have to be in the mood to hear. Hear it one way, and it’s just morose noodling; hear it another way, and it’ll slay you. Not quite as good as Blinking Lights and Other Revelations, in other words – but depending on your taste for heartbreak, it still might end up being your favorite Eels album. (Vagrant 2010)

Eels MySpace page


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