Various Artists | Shortbus (Team Love)

Interestingly, standout tracks don't come from the suspect artists Animal Collective, Yo La Tengo, and the Hidden Cameras.

 

cd_shortbusI don't know much about the movie Shortbus and really couldn't tell you whether you should go out and see it, but judging from the soundtrack, the music element of this film should be phenomenal. If all the songs from the soundtrack make an appearance in the film, the movie will twist through 18 different plot shifts, one for each track.

The only consistency of the compilation comes from its lo-fi quality, its moderately unknown and under-appreciated artists, and its 18 songs that fit into the broad "alternative" genre.

Interestingly, standout tracks don't come from the suspect artists Animal Collective, Yo La Tengo, and the Hidden Cameras. Scott Matthew dominates the album, offering five previously unreleased tracks. Matthew provides a mellow tinge to Shortbus while also putting forth two great, semi-upbeat tunes, "Surgery" and the opener "Upside Down." "Upside Down" is one of the premier songs, very similar to Beirut's "Postcards From Italy."

The Ark is the only other band that submits multiple songs. "This Piece of Poetry Is Meant to Do Harm" is another essential Shortbus track, with a bouncy backbeat and a chorus of voices that contribute to the clever lyrics. This well-written song was released on 2006's State of Ark that features brilliant lines like, "I should be grateful, I suppose/and compare you to a summer's rose"; "You made a non-believer out of me/Now you ask for my sympathy?"; and "What you call peace to me is a call to arms."

Other highlights come on "Beautiful," also an exclusive track, in which so-so lyrics are neutralized by Sook-Yin Lee's amazing voice and cool melody. Azure Ray's 2003 song from Hold on Love, "If You Fall," gets recycled, yet fits nicely among the others. Jay Brannan's "Soda Shop" could possibly be the strangest and best song from Shortbus. Perplexing questions are raised (especially without seeing the film) when Anita O'Day covers Bill Austin's "Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby?," when Jasper James' funk song "This House" sets up the reflective eight-and-half minute "In the End," and most of all what "Soda Shop" has to do with any movie and why it is so amazing.

For those considering purchasing this album for Animal Collective and the exclusive Yo La Tengo song, it's not worth it. But for anyone interested in a smart, attention-grabbing collection of intriguing bands, this soundtrack blows most soundtracks out of the water. B+

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