Monday, April 9, 2012

Awesome New Tunes: The Civil Wars

I saw The Hunger Games a couple of weeks ago, and I really enjoyed it. I'll post more of my movie thoughts later, but this post is devoted to one of the bands used for the film soundtrack: The Civil Wars. The haunting song Kingdom Come was featured in the closing credits; this video includes that song and a little snippet of interview with Joy Williams, talking about her band mate John Paul White.

I love how haunting this tune is, and I think their sound really captures what the music of District 12 would sound like. It captures the sound of the Appalachians around modern-day Tennessee and West Virginia. Bluegrass is perfect for the coal-mining district.

The Civil Wars were also part of the song Safe and Sound, which circulated quite a bit as a pre-film promotional piece. Taylor Swift is the "star" of this song, but The Civil Wars are the unsung heroes of it. Usually, I can't stand Swift. I don't enjoy her music, for more reasons than just not being a fan of modern country. But I think it helps that she had co-writers for this song. (I swear I remember seeing Suzanne Collins credited at the end of the movie for writing the lyrics, but I can't find that anywhere else. So maybe I was seeing things.) Swift's voice is allowed to shine through here, rather than her tendency toward flaky lyrics.

The Civil Wars have only produced one album, but they already have a Grammy under their belt for their album Barton Hollow. The title track from that album is enough proof of why.

If you're not convinced yet, try out this cover of the standard Dance Me to the End of Love. It's a song that's been done over and over again - but I don't think I've ever heard it this way, with a bittersweet mix of light country and gentle jazz.

The Carolina Chocolate Drops and The Decemberists, two other groups I love, are also featured on The Hunger Games soundtrack. I really appreciate that those in charge of the soundtrack for this movie really went for songs that fit the overall tone of the movie, rather than picking songs that totally didn't fit anything about it.

(No, of course I'm not referring to the appearance of Supermassive Black Hole by Muse in a certain baseball-focused scene of a sparkly vampire film; why would you think that?)

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