Zero Effect


The Work Group / Sony Music Soundtrax, 1998

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


As a movie, Zero Effect had to be considered a flop. I thought the previews looked interesting, but the film disappeared faster than a donut in front of Rush Limbaugh. (Now I have to patiently wait to find out when this will be released on home video - too bad the staff of OnVideo is in Cannes right now.)

But the soundtrack this movie left behind contains not only some exciting music that resurrects interest in the alternative scene, but also serves as a great introduction to some of the artists featured therein.

Most likely only a few names will be familiar at first glance. Elvis Costello is a surprisingly wonderful way to open up the album, but "Mystery Dance" is far too short, leaving me wanting to hear more from the bespectacled one. I got my first real taste of Jamiroquai off this soundtrack; "Drifting Along" is a reggae-flavored trip-fest that definitely raised my interest level in this band. (Just the fact that I wasn't familiar with them should clue you into how much MTV I watch these days.) Another artist who raised my interest level with a performance here is Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, whose "Into My Arms" is surprisingly beautiful - something, quite frankly, I wasn't expecting.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Of course, anyone who checks out this site on a regular basis would be knowledgeable about three artists who we've previously featured here. Dan Bern reminds us that he is a protest folk-rocker to be reckoned with on the song "One Dance", while Mary Lou Lord puts forth one of her best efforts on this soundtrack with "Some Jingle Jangle Morning". (Hey, if Belly could succeed a few years ago, this lady should be given the same chance.) And Esthero, the band I'm calling the next Bjork, throws their two cents in with the cut "Lounge". (Another artist from The Work Group roster, Bond, will soon be featured on "The Daily Vault" - and if "Starbucked" is any indication of how the rest of their album is, I'm gonna like these guys.)

If any portion of the Zero Effect soundtrack disappoints, it would be in the three performances of The Greyboy Allstars. These songs aren't bad - I wouldn't hit the "advance" button to skip over them - and they do have a bit of schmaltz to them with their retro-'60s sound. But, compared to some of the other tracks on this album, they don't hold up as well. I wasn't too enamored with Brendan Benson's performance, either, though "Emma J" is respectable enough.

Also featured on this soundtrack are Candy Butchers, Thermadore and Heatmiser, all of whom contribute some decent tracks, if not as noteworthy.

Not having seen the film, I am left to wonder how the music fits in with the action in Zero Effect - demonstrating a difficulty in reviewing a soundtrack without having seen the corresponding film. Hopefully, I'll be able to rectify this soon. Until then, the soundtrack to Zero Effect is pleasant enough, both as a sampler to try new artists and as a soundtrack.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of The Work Group / Sony Music Soundtrax, and is used for informational purposes only.