Rhythm & Views 

Various Artists

The Future Soundtrack for America, released by MoveOn.org and Music for America in conjunction with McSweeney's and Barsuk records, brings together 22 artists in a very subtle, nonpartisan way; the entire focus of this compilation is positive, effective change. Most of the songs included are live, acoustic or rare tracks, and many are not directly related to politics, but their lyrics become all the more meaningful in this context.

The few directly political songs are biting in their criticism: "Yeah, I believe the war is wrong, I don't believe the nations can be steered, lead the world by smarts and compassion, by example not by coercion, force and fear," sings Mike Doughty (of Soul Coughing) in "Move On," which could almost be the soundtrack for the organization, formed during the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal to encourage the country to "move on." R.E.M.'s "Final Straw" states, "I don't believe that two wrongs make a right, if the world was filled with the likes of you, I'd put up a fight." Ben Kweller's "Jerry Falwell Destroyed Earth" bleeds nicely into Sleater-Kinney's "Off With Your Head," and the late Elliott Smith's "A Distorted Reality is a Necessity to be Free," one of the tracks set to be released on his posthumous record, From a Basement on a Hill in October, ends the record on a bluesy note: "You disappoint me, you people raking in on the world."

The Flaming Lips, Blink 182, Tom Waits and Death Cab for Cutie also contributed, as well as numerous other well-known artists. The Soundtrack is a unified and striking effort by musicians to change the course of this country, and to get those listening to speak up.

More by Annie Holub


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