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Sound Decision
I Heart Boston

by Jonathan Mays,
Okay, so the Red Sox had a fantastic 2004 season, but do I really need to be reminded every five minutes that they marched through my Cardinals to do it? I put up with the post-Series festivities, and I was even prepared for some pre-season reminiscing, but gosh, it's getting ridiculous. Does every Yankees-Sox feature on ESPN have to show David Ortiz launching another One Off of poor Matt Morris? Does Stephen King's Red Sox book really have to be on the front shelf of our school bookstore? Do we really need Fever Pitch commercials on the local channels? (And who the hell let Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore on our field right after the game?)

And it doesn't stop there—you Red Sox had to take our shortstop, too! I know he wears Babe Ruth's number and all, but you must be seriously insecure if you WIN THE FREAKIN' WORLD SERIES and you're still worrying about curses.

If I didn't know better, I'd say this was part of a vast conspiracy against Missouri's sports teams. You know the Pontiac commercial that CBS kept running between basketball games? Those are my Missouri Tigers who were victimized by UCLA's last-second shot. And this Patriots "dynasty" thing? Those would be the St. Louis Rams who got robbed along the way. Yes, robbed. Anybody who was paying attention saw there were nine seconds left on the clock when Vinatieri hit that field goal. Apparently announcer Pat Summerall wasn't, since he said absolutely nothing as the final five seconds ticked off mysteriously. Hence the conspiracy.

Me? Bitter? No, I just thank God I'm not a Royals fan.

Ai Yori Aoshi Enishi: Pine Geneon Anime Music (2004-07-06)

If Yoko Ishida were thrown in a talent competition with the latest thirteen-year-old starlet from Tokyo, she'd lose. She's too old, she doesn't dance much on stage (unless you want to call that goofy Para Para hand-wave "dancing"), and she doesn't bank on sex appeal. Fortunately, the folks at Geneon were smart enough to realize that when you sing from the heart, the rest of that junk doesn't really matter. That's what Ishida has spent the better part of a decade doing, and she continues it here in the third installment of Ai Yori Aoshi.

You can stick this one in the same category as Mahoromatic's music: no points for originality but just enough spark to make things interesting. After you get through Ishida's delightful "Treasure" and slightly less impressive "I Do" (the backbeat makes it sound like karaoke), there are another 25 tracks of breezy incidental music. Try to stow the cynicism, though—it does get a little trite.

My favorite track is "My Favorite Things." Funny how that works. Clocking in at just 63 seconds, this little piano jig uses its limited time wisely with a quick, cute theme and some totally over-the-top faux-majestic chords in the middle part. When something sounds fun to play, you know it's definitely fun to hear.

Fullmetal Alchemist Original Soundtrack FUNimation (2005-02-08)

Orchestral anime soundtracks are like...live-action Japanese dramas. If you set aside the really phenomenal stuff, they tend to be pretty dull, and you can almost always see what's coming long in advance. But random stuff somehow seems more precious and interesting, I think. In Fullmetal Alchemist's case, the things that stood out to me were the blocks in "Refreshing Weather" (think horse gallop in Sleigh Bells) and a couple of clever triangle parts.

I know, that made you want to run out and buy FMA's soundtrack right this minute. But hey, it's not like you could do that anyways—it's only sold in a bundle with the box and first disc of the anime. So I guess this little "review" isn't as much of a "why you should buy FMA's soundtrack" as it is a "why you should spend more than ten seconds with the CD that came in that cool black metal box." Reason #1: L'Arc~en~Ciel theme. That alone would make this disc worth buying if A) you could and B) Tofu hadn't just released two L'Arc CDs and announced a DVD for May.

Reason #2: "Amestris" is good if you're suffering from Last Exile withdrawal. It's always cool when somebody knows how to put brass and drums together for a thunderous march piece. Reason #3: "Setting Sun" is a perfectly named piano solo that takes its time and ends on just the right note. If that's not enough for you, I don't know, try something loud like the new POLYSICS CD. But if you're intent on squeezing every ounce out of your anime soundtracks, Fullmetal Alchemist will occupy you for a while.

Lunar Legend Tsukihime: Moonlit Archives #2 Geneon Anime Music (2004-07-06)

Toshiyuki O'mori's Tsukihime score sounds like it was performed in fear of offending someone. I don't blame the composer—he wrote a number of beautiful melodies, and even the background bits are mildly interesting. But where's the passion? Why aren't the dynamics more noticeable? Why doesn't the cellist take a moment to breathe once in a while?

The problem is, nearly all of Tsukihime's tracks are meditations for two or three instruments. That leaves no room for lazy playing. Occasionally somebody steps up to the challenge, like the violinist in "Homage" or the pianist in "Wounds" (which also features that same violinist towards the end). But man, I'm angry about that cellist. He gets an absolutely stunning theme in "Moon Grey" and plows through it like a warm-up etude. And he's all alone, so he has no excuse not to exaggerate and pull as much as possible out of those notes.

Anyways, I hope O'mori gets another shot with a more capable group of musicians. His simple, elegant style demands it. Well, history's on his side: Kō Ōtani had the same problems with Outlaw Star, and his next soundtrack was the brilliant Haibane Renmei.

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