Into the Wild: Music for the Motion Picture
Sophomore year of high school, I read a book that has occupied a special place in my heart ever since. Into the Wild, based on the life and death of 24-year-old Chris McCandless changed the way I saw people and the world. The book is now a motion picture adapted and directed by Sean Penn with music by Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder.
Knowing the subject matter of the book, I realized that whatever Vedder compiled for the film’s music would be nothing like Pearl Jam. The songs in this relatively short album have a decidedly folksy feel and rely heavily upon instruments like acoustic guitar, mandolin and banjo. Vedder’s slurred, droning vocals tie together instrument and lyric in one beautiful composition after another.
The first song on the album, “Setting Forth,” serves as an epigraph for what’s to come; its bright guitar and drums create the perfect backdrop for an adventure through the great American outdoors. Song after song, Vedder creates captivating melodies with the power to conjure images of the untamed Alaskan frontier where McCandless lived out the final months of his life alone. In essence, this album is the perfect accompaniment to as strong a story as McCandless’ and can honestly be appreciated by just about everyone.
Heresy and the Hotel Choir
Maritime’s third album, Heresy and the Hotel Choir, picks up where their previous album left off by delivering more enjoyable post-emo, indie-pop tracks. There is a relative simplicity to each song on the album, but that is not to discredit the overall quality as former Promise Ring front man Davey von Bohlen has a knack for writing catchy but safe pop songs.
The opening track, “Guns of Navarone,” sets the tone for the rest of the album – its lyrical hook is catchy despite its brevity, and von Bohlen and Dan Hinz demonstrate their abilities to take a four-chord guitar part and develop harmonies within it. “Fox Science Fiction” starts with a dancey drum part before layering on a fuzzed-out bassline and a whistling synth part, creating a happy-go-lucky, indie-pop song that’s sure to get some radio play in the near future.
The highlight of the album comes with the one-two punch in “Peril” and “Pearl,” companion tracks that share similar lyrical elements. “Peril” is a short song comprised of von Bohlen’s emotional croon accompanied by a heavily distorted guitar reminiscent of early post-rock, while “Pearl,” in contrast, is the longest track on the album and one of the most musically dense.
Heresy is an album full of great melodies spoken between lead and rhythm guitars with remarkably well-produced clarity. Still, the album is able to retain the punk quality that characterized von Bohlen’s former projects from the ’90s. These qualities combined create a fun, poppy album that is fresh, albeit slightly familiar.