On Monday, Dec. 4, Bee Side Cassettes put out Juicyfruit Presents Music: The 21 Best Songs Used in Cinema History, the Albany distributors’ second annual collection of thematic tracks from local artists and some out-of-state acquaintances.
The first project of its kind, Kind of Funny, Kind of Strange: the ONLY Donnie Darko Companion Tape, was released near Halloween 2016. The Darko tape is a remake of the cult film’s soundtrack and includes a tiny accompanying zine–small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. The brains behind the operation, Martin Pohl and Dan Paoletti, are also responsible for a number of new releases via old-school cassette form for artists like Blue Ranger, Bilge Rat, Another Michael and Jouska.
In 2015, Pohl began acquiring equipment and recording cassettes for his friends out of his apartment in New York City. After he released Recoup with Interest by Apostrophe S, Paoletti jumped aboard and they began recording more and more of the pocket-sized collector items for bands on the lookout for unique ways to release their music.
“When I was buying them at shows, it was usually because they were like $5 and you could just stick ‘em in your pocket and walk home and I guess for younger people it seems cooler than a CD because they didn’t grow up with them,” Pohl said about his initial interest.
“It’s become an important part of the culture of product distribution for a few different genres because it’s sort of the most cost-effective way to make your own merchandise. CD players are harder to come by now. You can’t go get a 7-inch pressed, there’s no real underground route of doing that in a cheap way even though vinyl has become such a trendy, pricey item now. They say it’s happening to cassettes now, but we’ll see,” Paoletti added. “Tape is cool, tape is fun.”
The compilation projects reflect the stranger, more creative work that they enjoy supporting.
The 21 tracks of Juicyfruit Presents are comforting, reminiscent of our favorite pieces of cinema and the songs that encompass–or at times make–a scene or film. Think the budding friendship of Buzz and Woody in Toy Story or maybe, Ewan McGregor dragging his overdosed friend to the hospital in Trainspotting.
“The whole project is essentially about Juicyfruit trying to cement their stake in the cinematic legacy,” said Paoletti (with a completely straight face).
Through an online poll, Pohl and Paoletti have drawn from a unique pick of films and tracks–from School of Rock to Moonrise Kingdom, Harold and Maude, Kill Bill and–fitting with the Juicyfruit “sponsorship”–Gummo. A number of Albany musicians have lent their style and sound to a number of tracks collected by the pair and the finished product is a wonder.
“The ultimate tracklist is just a really bizarre hodgepodge of stuff where some of the movies are legitimate favorites and some are like, The Parent Trap remake,” Pohl said. He is currently in the process of finalizing the companion zine, which he says will be a satirical take on the end-of-year lists that have been populating websites and Twitter feeds.
The Bee Side rankings of the best songs used in cinematic history, Pohl explains, follows the tracklist order–therefore, naming “Soulful Strut” — the cheery instrumental from the 2003 remake of The Parent Trap– as “the best song usage in any film ever.”
Reworked by Slow Ref, the track takes on an even more adorable, Charlie Brown Christmas-esque charm. Also included on the comp is a crunchy, whirling “Le Temps de l’Amour” from local Albany experimental project I feel okay and a gorgeous take on Nancy Sinatra’s “Bang Bang” from Lone Phone Booth and Pink Nois. The collab layers a lonely set of vocals over a haunting organ instrumental, twisting itself into a beat-driven crescendo. It’s a highlight track. Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” (taken on by Albany’s Geoff Gordon) is harmonious–impossibly sweet and simple with just a tinge of melancholy. Others launch off on their own. Roy Orbison’s “Crying”–revamped by Rachel Getting Married–is chopped to echoing bits, as if the artist picked out only the most tear-inducing notes of Orbison’s sobbing chorus. It’s an entirely new project. Ian Stewart slowed down Sleep’s “Dragonaut” to a lo-fi acoustic that feels like velvet. Each song takes on a new identity but still maintains the memory of the original artist’s work as well as the cinematic moment in which it lives.
“I’m very happy with all of the covers that everyone has been kind enough to put together,” Pohl said, adding, “People should submit more weird stuff for us to make.”
This year’s comp proceeds will go to Unidos por Puerto Rico, to “help the much-beleaguered island of Puerto Rico in its infrastructural recovery efforts and general struggle against gross negligence at the hands of the US Govt.,” the album’s description reads.
The digital version of Juicyfruit Presents Music: The 21 Best Songs Used in Cinema History is available via Bandcamp, the physical tape and zine release is coming soon.