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Music Review: Various Artists – Juno Soundtrack

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Taken from the best comedy of 2007, the Juno Soundtrack owes a debt to actress Ellen Page who played the title character. In the liner notes director Jason Reitman reveals that he asked Page what kind of music Juno would listen to. She introduced him to The Moldy Peaches, an indie lo-fi act.

When Reitman heard the quirky love song “Anyone Else But You,” he contacted screenwriter Diablo Cody about using the song as a duet sung between Juno and her love interest Bleeker to close the film. Reitman then met with Kimya Dawson, co-creator of TMP, and she supplied him with more of her work, which became a main component of the film’s soundtrack.

Dawson has a similar sound throughout her work, whether solo, in TMP, or in Antsy Pants. The simplicity of the music and her mediocre singing have a quality reminiscent of children’s music, which is not surprising for Antsy Pants where she is joined by children; however, her odd lyrics are definitely more mature in the tales she tells. Unless the listener enjoys odd for oddness’ sake, her work is best taken in small doses.

An obvious influence on Dawson and TMP is The Velvet Underground’s “I’m Sticking With You,” which begins with a simple piano line and silly lyrics sung by Maureen Tucker and Lou Reed. The grating nature of this song also tests the listener’s tolerance.

Thankfully, there are some great tracks that break up the monotony and make the entire disc a good listen. The Kinks’ “Well Respected Man” and Mott The Hoople’s “All The Young Dudes” are classic rock radio staples that have aged well over the decades, helped in part by the lyrics of two of rock and roll’s best writers, Ray Davies and David Bowie.

Newer artists match their elders in quality while also paying homage to them. Belle & Sebastian’s “Expectations” is subtle. The song’s effervescent horn section brings to mind Love’s “Alone Again Or.” Sonic Youth is overt as they deliver a fantastic cover of “Superstar,” made famous by The Carpenters. Thurston Moore’s echo-effect voice and the sustained bass note on the piano captures the character’s anguish. The music and the additional studio noises work in great unison, creating one of the band’s best songs.

There are a few tracks included that could easily have been done without. Dawson’s “My Rollercoaster” has a strumming guitar and a series of nonsense sounds for 45 seconds and then the lullaby “Sleep (Instrumental)” is almost 50 seconds. The film’s composer Mateo Messina has his own short instrumental piece “Up the Spout” that runs about 40 seconds. Their inclusion is almost pointless as there’s not enough to get into the music.

At 47 minutes the soundtrack is short and really would have benefited from the inclusion of Juno’s dialogue. All the listener gets is actors Page and Michael Cera performing “Anyone Else But You,” which sounds better than TMPs’ version. The album does an adequate job of recreating the experience of the film sonically, but fans willing to expend the effort could easily create a better version.

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About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS
  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    I’ve always loved that Carpenters cover by Sonic Youth.

    -Glen

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    well, you have good taste in music. Now take my home address off that Springsteen forum.

  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    Aw c’mon, you can’t tell me that you don’t find all of the attention even the least bit amusing?

    -Glen

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    I did until Saleski called my job, trying to get me fired, and then Pico threatened my life.

  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    Sounds like a damned conspiracy to me. Watch your step there mister…

    -Glen

  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    By the way, I’ve always wanted to ask, are you really an illegal Mexican?

    -Glen

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    Illegal? Well, there were a number of laws Fumo Verde and I broke last night while attending the moe. show.

  • http://daslob.blogspot.com/ Pico

    A movie based on a discount dial-up internet service? Brilliant!

  • http://www.rockthedash.com Ophelia

    I liked the soundtrack a lot, but generally agree that it was a little short and that the Juno dialog should have been included. Overall, though…it was great to see TMP and other indie influences shine in such a great movie. I wish more indie bands could get exposure like this. For all of you fellow unsigned bands out there trying to get exposure, you should check out this amazing contest that Alpine is sponsoring @ Rock The Dash It’s really great exposure, and you get the chance to win a rockin’ Alpine Car Stereo and up to 18k in prizes. Tell your friends and help your fellow musicians out, ’cause we need to get the word about the best upcoming bands, which is why I’m working to support this with them.

  • http://www.myspace.com/drbubbleeye SCOTT TREPESOWSKY

    Kimya Dawson is a GENIUS and a WONDERFUL and REAL songstress!

  • http://www.butterflyfiction.com/journal/ Connie Phillips

    Congrats! This article has been forwarded to the Advance.net websites and Boston.com.

  • Tammy

    I’m a pregnant teen and this movie and the soundtrack made me feel alot better about the situation I’m in I love it so much…… It makes a pregnant girl feel less of a fat whore… I loved it.

  • Alison

    I loved the juno soundtrack
    the kinks are my fav band
    and the movie was one of my favorites also
    i can relate alot to the character juno is (=