American GangsterVarious Artists - American Gangster
Almost all the material on the American Gangster soundtrack that does not originate from the early '70s or prior is engineered to at least sound like the early '70s: two excellent Anthony Hamilton songs produced by Bomb Squad innovator Hank Shocklee (both of which feature string arrangements from Willie Mitchell), as well as a handful of instrumentals produced and directed by Shocklee (including a version of Sonny Boy Williamson's "Checkin' Up on My Baby") that cook. The music that was originally released during the early '70s or earlier makes for a mini-compilation of soul and blues classics. Read more >>

ControlVarious Artists - Control
Initial screenings of Control were met with no short amount of praise, including a standing ovation at Cannes and approval from each surviving member of Joy Division, so it is not a surprise that the film's soundtrack -- released the same day as Rhino's Joy Division "collector's edition" (not to be confused with "deluxe edition") reissues of Unknown Pleasures, Closer, and Still -- is commendable as well, put together with similar degrees of knowledge and care, though a second disc containing New Order's full score would not have been a bad thing. Nearly every proto-punk artist a Joy Division expert would expect to hear in the film's background is represented: a who's who featuring the Velvet Underground, Roxy Music, Kraftwerk, Iggy Pop, and two David Bowies (the glam and Berlin/Eno Bowies). Read more >>

Darjeeling LimitedVarious Artists - The Darjeeling Limited
For fans of director Wes Anderson, a new movie from the bespectacled auteur means the materialization of a quirky new soundtrack as well. While 1999's British Invasion-heavy audio companion to Rushmore remains the unofficial fan fave, each collection of music (Bottle Rocket, The Royal Tenenbaums, and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou) has been a glimpse into the Texas-bred Anderson's obviously deep record collection, a window he once again opens with the typically eclectic Darjeeling Limited. The quirk of 2004's Zissou was that it mined classic David Bowie songs as played by Brazilian samba revivalist and Life Aquatic cast member Seu Jorge. This time around,Anderson populates his tale with classic Indian art film music, from celebrated director/composer Satyajit Ray to violinist/singer/composer Shankar. Read more >>

death proofVarious Artists - Death Proof
Quentin Tarantino soundtracks are often as deliriously exciting as the films themselves and Death Proof is no exception to the rule. His half of the exploitation double-bill Grindhouse concerns a serial killer called Stuntman Mike who offs girls with his indestructible car -- a blend of no less than three B-movie staples that provides a perfect vehicle for a perfect soundtrack, which Death Proof comes pretty close to being. Given the inspirations behind this stylized exploitation flick, it should come as no surprise that this soundtrack also borrows heavily from the '60s and '70s, digging up a bunch of forgotten soul, pop, rock, surf, and soundtrack songs that aren't commonly heard. Read more >>

dedicationVarious Artists - Dedication
Former roadie for Fugazi turned director Justin Theroux shows off his eclectic musical taste with the Dedication soundtrack as it schizophrenically switches between disjointed thorny songs and flowery orchestral pop tunes, accurately capturing the movie's two protagonists' extremely different personalities. In the film, Billy Crudup plays an unstable children's book author whose manic eccentricities are accented with the music of Deerhoof, while the more stable behavior of Mandy Moore's character is captured by the somber themes of Cat Power. Even though most of the songs found on this soundtrack are featured elsewhere, Deerhoof completists will find the band's new "Matchbook Seeks Maniac" and their cover of "Little Drummer Boy" essential. Read more >>

Future is UnwrittenJoe Strummer - The Future Is Unwritten
This musical accompaniment to director Julian Temple's biopic of the late Joe Strummer obliterates the traditional soundtrack formula, turning the whole listening experience into an 80-minute radio show, hosted by the inimitable singer/producer/punk rock icon himself. Strummer, a lifelong devotee to the power of radio (he would often bring a transistor on-stage, hold it up to the microphone, and religiously tune in whatever beat-heavy, underground station popped up first), had his own program on the BBC that revolved around his myriad influences and notorious gift for gab. Like Little Steven's Underground Garage program, the music was steeped in its creator's psyche, with old and new favorites inciting rants, raves, and stories that were just as entertaining as the songs themselves. Read more >>

CoverVarious Artists - Music and Lyrics
Rather than just slapping together some pre-existing, heartwarming tunes, the soundtrack to the songwriters-in-love rom-com Music and Lyrics features custom-written songs that lovingly send up the sounds of '80s and 2000s pop. In fact, pop is so important to Music and Lyrics that "Pop!" is the name of the '80s group that Hugh Grant's character is a former member of, and Pop!'s sound is a fusion of New Romantics like ABC and Spandau Ballet mixed with a healthy dose of Wham!'s giddy but more mainstream new wave. On "Pop! Goes My Heart," Grant's voice bears an uncanny resemblance to ABC's suave frontman, Martin Fry. Read more >>

ratatouilleMichael Giacchino - Ratatouille
Composer Michael Giacchino reunites with director Brad Bird on Ratatouille, whose lively and endlessly inventive soundtrack strikes a perfect balance between the old European drama of Ennio Morricone and the unhinged whimsy of Raymond Scott. Like an Old World version of Giacchino's jazz-infused, comic book-kissed score for The Incredibles, Ratatouille is both elegant and mad, built around a sweet and playful theme called "Le Festin," which is presented both instrumentally and vocally (sung by the charming French star Camille) and is as timeless as the dish for which the film is named. Read more >>

zafirosVarious Artists - Los Zafiros: Music from the Edge of Time
Though very popular in their native Cuba and Miami, Los Zafiros' very existence remains unknown to almost everyone outside of that region. The 80-minute documentary Los Zafiros: Music from the Edge of Time does much to illuminate their intriguing story, combining outlines of the group's history with scenes of the surviving group members revisiting friends and relatives about 40 years after the peak of their stardom. Dominating the film are the memories of the two surviving Zafiros, Manuel Galbán (better known as part of the Buena Vista Social Club) and co-founder Miguel Cancio who, by the time this documentary was made, had moved from Cuba to Florida, though he visited Cuba to shoot many of the scenes in this documentary. Read more >>