Latest reviews of new albums:

Recently – in fact, while desperately scrambling around trying to think of much to say about John Debney’s Aliens in the Attic – I started thinking.  Unfortunately, I didn’t start thinking about Aliens in the Attic – but rather about how, after writing reviews of film music for twelve years, I’ve started saying the same things over and over again.  Many of my reviews have always been generally shorter than most of the other on-line reviewers’, but I think a lot of the time there is still room for me to get to the point more quickly than I do.  Hence the idea for movie-wave capsules was born. 

I will still be giving the major new releases the same kind of thorough review I always have – but will be able to use this section of the website for offering more succinct thoughts on releases where I would struggle to write four long paragraphs.  This is borne of two things – not just the Aliens in the Attic syndrome where the music is such that it’s really hard to find much to say about it – but also that there is so much good music which finds its way to me which is for very obscure films, by composers with whose work I am generally unfamiliar, and using this service I can avoid scrambling around trying to pad out a couple of paragraphs’ thoughts into something artificially longer (or worse, just sit on the CD and not review it at all).  Also expect to find reviews here of major scores that I missed reviewing at the time of release for whatever reason.

It will also give me the opportunity to write an occasional blog when there’s something I think about which might be of interest; and to offer news of exciting new composer assignments (should there ever be any – it’s been a while!) and releases from the different labels.  There won’t be any hard and fast rules about what gets full reviews and what gets the capsules, but I imagine at the moment that most major new scores from the big composers will still get the kind of full review they always have done; and other new releases will get them as and when I think I can find enough interesting things to say to make it worthwile.

I hope people don’t mind me going down this path.  I thank you all for reading, whether it’s been for twelve years or twelve minutes, and hope to see you around for a long time to come!

One cool consequence of doing this is that you’ll be able to leave comments on the capsule reviews and any blog entries – I look forward to reading your thoughts and interacting with you in a way which hasn’t really been possible before.


PS: I was going to call it “Southall’s Shorts” but thought that might conjure up some unpleasant images.

  1. Orlando Gonzalez (Reply) on Tuesday 8 September, 2009 at 22:09

    Nice pun over the shorts comment James! Aside from that I think its a great idea, you can cover more reviews this way, while you keep your main page with the best scores.

    Im a great soundtrack fan and I got to admit, there is an amazing amount of score releases this year but sadly only 1 in 10 are outstanding (Drag Me To Hell) might be the surprise, aside from that Star Trek 2 Release is a nice addition to my collection.

    Ok I think I overwrote here, nice site and keep doing it James, I very much like your writing style and every week I look forward to read some of your lines! (that might come and bite me in the ass :P)


  2. Broxton (Reply) on Tuesday 8 September, 2009 at 22:11

    I like it. Excellent way to keep abreast of things, and for you to continue your stuff. Bravo.

  3. Atham (Reply) on Wednesday 9 September, 2009 at 00:22

    This is a great move James! Very impressive.

  4. JNH (Reply) on Thursday 10 September, 2009 at 08:18

    Well, I hate to ruin the party, but I don’t think it’s a good idea, this capsules reviews. I can’t see the purpose of it. Why not adding another paragraph or two to these reviews and place them on the main page with the rest? After all, there is no obligation for a certain amount of words in each review. Plus, I understood that the capsules reviews are intended for minor and less important scores. Well, what makes John Barry’s “Hanover Street” inferior to, let’s say, Even Evan’s “The Poker Club”? In fact, I think any Barry score should be placed much higher on any importance scale than any Evan Evan score. I really can’t see the point of making these differentiations. Why of not continue writing all the reviews in the main page?
    I love your site, James, and Iv’e been visiting it regularly for many years now, but for me it feels like sheer laziness.

  5. James Southall (Reply) on Thursday 10 September, 2009 at 18:54

    Thanks everyone for the comments.

    JNH, I understand what you’re saying, but just to clarify a couple of things – the capsules aren’t intended for minor and less important scores, just for ones where I think I can relay as much important information in a capsule as I would be able to in a full length review. To be honest, I got to the point where I decided I’d give this up entirely, for a couple of reasons – I just don’t have anywhere near as much time as I used to have for doing it, and I find myself repeating things I’ve said before, all the time.

    The capsule reviews will be of things that otherwise I just wouldn’t have reviewed at all. This way means I won’t have to spend hours typing up John Debney’s ten orchestrators or all the tracklistings any more, and I can just avoid waffling in reviews of things where I can’t think of anything to say.

    If I’d reviewed The Poker Club this week instead of last week then it would have been a capsule. You can read that review and surely see why I decided to do this – it’s the score for a film I’ve never seen, by a composer whose music I have never heard at all before, and so it was a real struggle to think of enough to say about the score, even though I like the music and it’s an album people should check out. And Hanover Street – the album’s six months old and when I review anything which isn’t a brand new release, the number of people who click and read the review is so absolutely tiny it’s almost unbelievable. Doing it in capsule form isn’t intended to signify that I don’t think it’s an important release or is good music.

    The bottom line is that it pretty much became a choice between either maintaining my increasingly-slow speed of writing reviews (in which case there was little point carrying on at all, really) or doing that and having all the capsule reviews as well. All the albums I’ve reviewed so far wouldn’t have been reviewed at all unless I’d introduced this section.

    I’m sorry to you and anyone else who may be put off visiting the site because of it – I genuinely am. Hopefully you’ll still be able to find a few things which interest you though.


  6. thomas (Reply) on Thursday 10 September, 2009 at 22:56

    I like it a lot, James. Even a few paragraphs from your goodself are generally better that some of the rubbish reviews I read on the web. Keep it coming, I find myself agreeing with the majority of your work. And its always good to have a bit of humour thrown in, film music isnt that serious!!
    Now, how about a bit more of Maestro Morricone!…

  7. christopher (Reply) on Friday 11 September, 2009 at 04:13

    I think what you’re doing is great, James. This is an infinitely better thing to do than discontinuing the site as you mentioned previously considering. I also like being able to leave comments on your site.