Surfin’ (Beyond) the USA
The fourth project from Woodshed Films is surf-film A Brokedown Melody. Armed with a 16mm camera and a love of the sport, director Chris Malloy follows famed surfers around the globe, hitting Indonesia, Chile, Jamaica, and Mexico, exploring the life, art, and future of surfing. These are people for whom surfing is not only a job, but their passion, and this is well represented in the accompanying soundtrack, music from and inspired by the film.Naturally, Jack Johnson is enjoyably ubiquitous. Not only onscreen, Johnson contributes three songs to the soundtrack. His likable, laid-back style is reflected back at him in the other low-key artists brought on to the project, including M. Ward, Matt Costa, Kings of Convenience â€šÃ„Ã¬ heck, even Pearl Jam frontman and goodtime surfing buddy Eddie Vedder pulls his ukulele up to this campfire to share the brief, bittersweet ditty, â€šÃ„ÃºGoodbye.â€šÃ„Ã¹
The success of the album is two-fold: it maintains a consistent vibe across all songs, while sprinkling enough variations on that vibe to keep the album from turning into one long acoustic lullaby.
Keeping things interesting are Built to Spill’s Doug Martschâ€šÃ„Ã´s knee-slapping slide-guitar mover â€šÃ„ÃºHeartâ€šÃ„Ã¹ and the Beta Bandâ€šÃ„Ã´s â€šÃ„ÃºNeedles in My Eyes.â€šÃ„Ã¹ Admittedly, the organ and electric guitar of the latter is seemingly a poor fit, but with soft tones supporting lyrics mumbled to the point of incoherence, even these Scotsmen tap into the surfer cool of the disc. Adding a final dash of spice, the album is made danceable with the brilliant inclusion of reggae singer Johnny Osbourneâ€šÃ„Ã´s island groove with â€šÃ„ÃºWe Need Love,â€šÃ„Ã¹ and the cool Mediterranean jazz of nuevo tango creator âˆšÃ…stor Pazziollaâ€šÃ„Ã´s â€šÃ„ÃºVuelvo Al Sur.â€šÃ„Ã¹
To remind us that this is first and foremost a love letter to the surf and the surfing life, philosophical soundbytes from the likes of Gerry Lopez, Luke Williams, Mark Cunningham, and Bob the Builder pepper the album amid the sounds beloved by these gurus and musicians: crashing waves and seagulls soaring overhead.