Album Review – ELiZA WREN Returns to Oz

When I review an album, I listen with pen and paper. I take notes song-by-song, recording the vibe and mood of each song, how each flows, and how they work together to make a complete album.  While listening to ELiZA WREN’s Returns to Oz, I wasn’t able to do that, and I could not be more delighted.

This double album of 110 minutes of music is set to the movie Return to Oz, one of my childhood favorites.  If you are not familiar with Return to Oz, watch it right this minute. Otherwise, here’s a three sentence synopsis:  It’s a very dark, somewhat creepy non-musical 80’s sequel to the 1939 musical The Wizard of Oz in which an inexplicably younger Dorothy, played by Fairuza Balk (who I had a crush on as a kid and again later after watching The Craft), gets sent to an asylum by her loving aunt and uncle to get electroshock therapy to rid her mind of the Oz mumbojumbo that she won’t shut up about. Whilst escaping the asylum, she falls asleep and wakes up in Oz, only to find it has been ruined by the creepy wheelers (imagine less cool flying monkeys on rollerblades), a gnome king who is sporting the ruby slippers, and a headless witch who has a varied collection of heads she can swap.  Oz can only be returned to its former glory by stopping these evil characters, and the only ones who can stop them are Dorothy and her verbose chicken, along with the help of a robot soldier, a jack-o-lantern headed dude, and a flying couch with a talking moose head.

If that amazing preview didn’t immediately compel you to watch Return to Oz, I have yet another excellent reason: EliZA WREN’s album Returns to Oz.  Much like Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and The Wizard of Oz (the syncing of which is commonly known as Dark Side of the Rainbow), ELiZA WREN’s album can be synced with the film Return to Oz.  However, when playing Dark Side of the Moon and The Wizard of Oz, coincidences are few and you really have to be generous in accepting things that seem moderately in sync. With Returns to Oz, the songs are purposefully and amazingly crafted to accompany the movie, and they do a fantastic job of enhancing each other.  The moods of the songs fit perfectly, and the lyrics are usually, though cryptically, describing what is happening in the movie.  I can’t quite describe the audio/visual aspect of the whole experience, all I can do is recommend you try it (start by watching the trailer).

Apart from the visual, the music definitely holds on it’s own.  The album uses ongoing motifs and recurring song themes that range from old timey bluegrass and folk music to indie rock to piano-based spacey tunes that would fit very well on a Pink Floyd record.  Whether you experience the album on its own or accompanied by a delightfully creepy Disney movie, I highly recommend giving it a watch and/or listen!

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Album Review – ELiZA WREN Returns to Oz

Interview – Jennifer Thomas, award-winning composer.

Jennifer Thomas, LDS musician and composer, is on FIRE! She recently won Park City Film Festival’s Gold Medal of Excellence for Original Music in a Short Film  for her work in Minuet. There were over 200 films selected for review this year, and it was Jennifer’s first film score.

Before the excitement of winning had even slightly worn off, she received a Hollywood Music in Media Awards nomination for her classical crossover arrangement of J. S. Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor. There is a version of it here, and it is also being re-mastered for Jennifer’s new album. The HMM Awards honor film scores, commercial music composers, video game composers, and independent musicians in every musical genre. It is the only awards platform of its kind, and it will be the real deal: red carpet, media coverage, and after-parties. Jennifer humbly says that even if she doesn’t win, it will be a great experience to meet others in her field.

With all of the projects she has going on, she still found the time to let me interview her. I was thrilled.

Continue reading “Interview – Jennifer Thomas, award-winning composer.”

Interview – Jennifer Thomas, award-winning composer.

Bill Dent – Guitarist and Collaborator

Need a guitarist or songwriting collaborator?

You may not have ever heard of Bill Dent, but if you’ve worked with him, you’ll never forget him.  Bill is truly one of the more talented people I’ve ever had the chance to work with.   I’ve been around a lot of amazing guitarists, and can attest that not only is he a great guitarist, he is a great musician – something many guitarists sadly lack.  He has such a great sensibility about his playing, covering a wide range of styles with ease.  He doesn’t settle for “what everyone else is doing”, and isn’t afraid to boldly try new things and push the envelope.  When many artists do that, they often end up getting critical acclaim at the expense of offending the masses, but in Bill’s case – he always seems to find just the right balance for each song and project.   As a result of this, Bill is an exceptional collaborator – bringing out the best in any song he touches, and any artist he works with.    He makes an ordinary chord progression become extraordinary, and a mundane melody become memorable. Continue reading “Bill Dent – Guitarist and Collaborator”

Bill Dent – Guitarist and Collaborator

Chance Thomas scoring new Monopoly game

I got a quick note from Chance Thomas, the award-winning composer for video games such as Avatar and The Lord of the Rings. Electronic Arts is planning to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the board game Monopoly by releasing a 3-D city-building game called Monopoly Streets. Chance Thomas has confirmed that he will be writing the score. Seems exciting! You can find a link to a promotional release of the theme by clicking HERE.

Chance Thomas scoring new Monopoly game

Jennifer Thomas reveals Minuet score

Linescratcher Jennifer Thomas has been working all Summer on a film score for an independent short film called Minuet.  Fans and readers will be happy to see that Jennifer has released the unmastered tracks from the film on her blog.  Awesome chance to hear them before you see the film.

As far as the film goes, it has been filmed and is intended to be entered into film festivals soon.  Jennifer has given a synopsis of the film on her website: Continue reading “Jennifer Thomas reveals Minuet score”

Jennifer Thomas reveals Minuet score

Jennifer Thomas

SOUNDTRACK/CLASSICAL

If you like classical music that kicks, you’re in for a treat. Violinist, pianist, classical composer, performer, and mother, Jennifer Thomas brings quite a bit to the table, and yet she manages to seamlessly transition from modern to traditional, from dramatic to gentle, from tempest to forest and in between. Listeners will at once connect with her melodies and themes. Her compositions are complex enough to resonate with fellow musicians, but Jennifer is also quite adept at emotional connection with the lay listener. Jennifer has quite a bit to say about her musical process, and has taken the time to answer some questions for us. She talks about promoting her music, how composition requires hard work, and how she feels God helps her as she composes her music. Continue reading “Jennifer Thomas”

Jennifer Thomas