Contributor Picks: Music

Happy World Music Day! To celebrate the international holiday, our contributors have decided to give a few recommendations to bring song into your hearts.


© Copyright Kraid Records

Nick’s Pick:
Brass (2005)

In the eight-bit era of video games, programmers had very little with which to work in composing atmospheric scores for their epic pixelated adventures, yet many console games from the eighties have such memorable soundtracks that they spawned an entire musical genre called “chiptune” or “nerdcore”. Among the most famous representatives of this movement are the Minibosses, a rock band that focuses exclusively on Nintendo music.

Ever wondered what the soundtracks to your favorite games would sound like played on electric guitar and bass? The Minibosses’ first widely distributed album, Brass, can be downloaded for free at their website. It includes classic tunes from Castlevania, Mega Man 2 and Double Dragon. The band’s most recent release, Brass 2: Mouth, features tracks from Super Mario Bros 3 and The Legend of Zelda as well as multiple (not to mention hilarious) covers of the Excitebike theme. Any self-respecting Nintendo fan must check them out, less they want to be kicked out of the club.


© Copyright Buena Vista Pictures

Pamela’s Pick:
Mr Holland’s Opus (1995)

The value of music in our education system is hotly debated these days, what with glee club always under budgetary threat, and no movie addresses the issue better than Mr Holland’s Opus. Cheesy to the nth degree, the film follows Glenn Holland (Richard Dreyfus), a would-be composer who takes a high school teaching position to pay the bills. In the span of thirty years, life, work, and the birth of a deaf son inevitably eclipse his dream of having a symphony performed, and the titular Mr Holland goes from phoning it in to nurturing his students’ special talents, hence the cheese.

Mr Holland’s Opus drives home the idea that studying music can help troubled kids straighten out, shy kids gain confidence, and lonely kids find friends. Moreover, music, as a discipline, contributes to the overall wellbeing of both performers and listeners in a way math, history, and grammar simply can’t. Through the arts, human beings can share not just their knowledge but their experiences as well, and the movie reminds us that this gift is a precious one. See? I can be cheesy too.


© Copyright Kanine Records

Eileen’s Pick:
Correct Behavior (2012)

If you’ve never heard of Eternal Summers, “Millions”, the first single off their upcoming album Correct Behavior, makes for an excellent introduction to the Virginia indie-pop trio. Unlike their lo-fi but still awesome chef-d’oeuvres from The Dawn of Eternal Summers and Silver, the song has got the clean and shiny quality one expects from the same folk who engineered 50 Cent’s work. Yes, the band is one step closer to selling out, but, considering each member still has a day job, I’m not worried about its artistic integrity yet.

The music video for “Millions” is pretty straightforward: two vaguely Thelma and Louise type BFFs go out in the desert to shoot, smash, and stomp stuff, breaking them into “millions”. Once you get past their less than satisfying attempt at destroying a television set, the rest of the breakage gets quite refreshing actually. Though I don’t think the video does justice to the song, or the rest of the album for that matter, it is worth watching if only to see someone squash pretty cakes with a shovel.


© Copyright New Line Cinema
© Copyright New Line Cinema

Dimitri’s Pick:
Magnolia (1999)

Make no mistake: Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia is a musical. Granted, its characters don’t interrupt their daily lives, conversations, and responsibilities to burst into random Broadway numbers (how do these closet Wayne Bradys know the choreography anyway?), but their lives follow a melody just the same, their respective solitudes woven together by Jon Brion’s orchestral score (to which singer-songwriter Fiona Apple contributed) and their longings given voice by Aimee Mann’s soulful rock ballads.

Clocking at over three hours, Magnolia follows ten miserable lives, including that of a sexually abused cocaine addict (Melora Walters), a former child genius (William H. Macy), and a misogynistic self-help guru (Tom Cruise) whose absentee father (Jason Robards) is dying of cancer. Some characters are connected by coincidence, others by fate, and all by the desire to be part of a larger, more meaningful opus. Consider the sequence in which every cast member sings along to Mann’s “Save Me” playing on the radio. I remember having done the same on multiple occasions (with different songs, of course), finding solace in the knowledge that at least one person out there shares my sorrow. That is what music does, you see: like any art, it unites us.

Various Contributors
Nick Ouellette
Podcaster / Guest Contributor:
Nicolas or, as his friends like to call him, Dr Nick has a PhD in physics as well as an unhealthy obsession with video games. He won the 2006 Nininger Award for his work in astrophysics and hates vegetarians as a general rule.
Pamela Howard
Podcaster / Guest Contributor:
A goddess to some but just strange to everyone else, Pamela has a joint B.A. in English and history. This, along with her children and her Star Wars fetish, informs everything she thinks but mercifully not everything she writes.
Eileen Yun Michel
Guest Contributor:
An English editor with a penchant for ironic absurdities, Eileen started out on the site as a composer instead of a writer. Though the matter has since been rectified, the absurd irony of it all still pleases her.
Dimitri A.C. Ly
Editor in Chief / Movie Critic:
When he started this site, Dimitri never thought he'd be writing blurbs about himself in the third person. In his other life, he works as a writer, translator, and editor for various publications in print and online. His motto is, "Have pen, will travel."