Disney aims to keep demographic roped in with newest soundtrack


Published: Friday, January 12, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 11, 2007 at 11:31 p.m.
"Listen Again"
Various artists ***
BBC Radio One DJs Rob Da Bank and Chris Coco have each made the equivalent of a mixtape, musical goulashes they package together on the two-disc "Listen Again."
Both compilations have the same elements of self-indulgence that typically come with the kind of mixtapes made by friends and lovers, but these guys are professionals, and the surprises they plant along the way compensate for lapses into self-conscious eclecticism. Most importantly, they bring light to relatively unknown artists who merit an audience.
Chris Coco's cornucopia is the more unassuming of the two, starting with a quaintly melodic "Oh, I Need All of the Love" by singer-songwriter Josh Rouse and ending with a nifty cover by Patrick & Eugene of the Harpers Bizarre hit "59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)." The DJ's collection also has a quasi-ersatz-nostalgia air fueled by surreal reinventions of genres and styles - from Skewiff's swirling take on "Man of Constant Sorrow" (earlier versions of which are widely known from the "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" soundtrack) to Acid Casuals' "Bowl Me Over" that sways like a slow dance song for an alternate-dimension sock hop.
On the downside, Coco's compilation runs aground in indie- shoegazer/trance territory marked by glassy angst and drones, including his own "Andy Warhol," which is little more than a throbbing bass loop.
Rob Da Bank's contribution to "Listen Again" features a wider range of more ambitious acts unified by their focus on rhythm - whether it's Bobby Marie's sketchy punk-soul "Rodeo," the contagious world-music lilt of "La Realite" by Mali's Amadou & Mariam or the pounding pub anthem "Start Wearing Purple" by Gogol Bordello.
Bank offers subtler rewards, too, including the electronica-based concept piece "Yes Boss" by Hess Is More, the robotic femme rap of Uffie's "Pop the Glock" and the textured spaciousness of Rainbow Family's "I Can See a Rainbow." His disc ends with King Creosote's simple but effective cover of the Prince-penned Sinead O'Connor hit "Nothing Compares 2 U."
-Chuck Campbell "Jump In!" soundtrack Various artists *** Walt Disney Records executed a lucrative music-industry strategy in 2006, using a multi-media approach to corner the youth market.
Thanks to programming on its own Disney Channel, the label scored whopping sales with soundtracks for "Hannah Montana," "The Cheetah Girls 2" and, most notably, "High School Musical."
Disney keeps rolling with the soundtrack for "Jump In!" - a made-for-TV movie that premieres Jan. 12 on the Disney Channel and doubtlessly will be repeated often if it has anything like the success of "High School Musical."
Nothing's guaranteed with such a fickle demographic, but Disney stacks the deck, casting "High School Musical's" Corbin Bleu as a promising teen boxer who catches double-dutch jump-rope fever from his neighbor, played by "Akeelah and the Bee's" Keke Palmer.
The urban/pop album is a methodical appeal to the targeted market, but not so formulaic that it fails. In fact, there's enough of an edge to most of these tracks that parents and older siblings won't be put off - at least not initially - if they're exposed to the soundtrack.
Hip-hop meets electronic dance music while choruses brand the refrains with heavy repetition, and happily there's not much namby-pamby filler that inevitably seems to bog down music for this demographic.
Bleu confidently punches his way through "Push It to the Limit," and though she's a somewhat-anonymous singer, Palmer musters serviceable presence for both "Jumpin' " and "It's My Turn Now."
Better tracks find Jordan Pruitt adding flavorful inflections to her delivery on the fidgety "Jump to the Rhythm," Prima J going for a Black-Eyed-Peas style of mixed-bag energy on "Gotta Lotta" and Lil' Josh rapping through an amusing reinterpretation of House of Pain's "Jump Around."
A couple of cliched ballads by Sebastian Mego ("Where Do I Go From Here") and Kyle ("Let It Go") trip up the momentum of the soundtrack, but otherwise there's persistent, inviting energy in the collection, even if it offers nothing of lasting consequence.
"The Blinding"
Babyshambles **** When does this guy even have time for music?
Babyshambles frontman Peter Doherty is constantly in the headlines, especially in his native England, for bad-boy-rocker activity that borders on the absurd.
Years of substance abuse are at the root of most of his troubles. It got him kicked out of his band the Libertines, which he co-fronted with Carl Barat. It's been an apparent fuel for his feuds with his on-again/off-again girlfriend - and possible current fiancee - supermodel Kate Moss, herself no stranger to rehab. And it's been a contributor to his troubles with his newer band Babyshambles, notorious for no-shows and cancellations of concerts. (Oasis even fired the irresponsible group as an opening act.) Not surprisingly, the Babyshambles lineup is routinely shuffled.
At any rate, Doherty managed to hang in the studio long enough to put together the five-track "The Blinding" as a follow-up to Babyshambles' full-length, critically acclaimed "Down in Albion" from 2005.
NME likened the band's music to drugs - "destructive but addictive" - and while that's a nicely symbolic parallel, it's an overstatement. Instead, "The Blinding," like "Down in Albion" before it, is an engaging melding of genres with the charismatic Doherty at the helm.
The title-track opener of the new collection finds his tattered voice twisting around the rhythmic Clash-ly jabs. Then "Love You But You're Green" moseys out like an addled take on Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl," except the casually restrained Doherty is issuing ominous lines like, "When she says she's going, you make sure she goes."
He's ominous again on an "I Wish" that jubilantly (and deceptively) teeters between ska and reggae as the singer slurs like a drunken crooner, "I wish to God that I'd just been stabbed." His spritely ramble on the galloping "Beg, Steal or Borrow" hinges on the line, "I'll tell you anything just to get you in the car," and on the loopy closer "Sedative," he observes, "It's been a long, long time since she stepped outside into the morning sun."
Because it's only five tracks long, "The Blinding's" magnetic music and meaningful lyrics are sure to leave many who hear it wanting more. But under the circumstances, it's a wonder there are any songs at all.

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