Music News

Civilian Lands on Renee Movie Soundtrack, Preps Debut Album

Last time we caught up with the ginger and elegantly quivering singer Ryan Alexander, the Fort Lauderdale native and his newly formed four-piece, Civilian, had landed a spot onstage at the inaugural Orlando Calling Festival. With Alexander behind the mic, guitarist Alex Bennett, drummer Nash Nardone, and bassist Nick Nardone, the quartet beat out more than 20 bands for the coveted slot in a battle of the bands showdown.

That was just this past November. It seems as if the good-natured (and New Times' overall 2011 Best Young Guy) musician still has his guns a-blazing. Civilian finished tracking its forthcoming debut album -- tentatively titled Should This Noose Unloosen -- in December and is in the process of mastering tracks for a May release. 

The icing on the cake came last week as news rolled in that one of the songs on said unfinished record called "Don't Lose Heart" will be featured in the indie flick Renee.

What a snowball of success it has been for Alexander and crew since changing its handle from Alexander to Civilian last year, a nom de plume the group used for more than six years. "Don't Lose Heart" fixes in on a style Alexander calls "more vocally intensive and rhythmically complex" versus what former Alexander fans are used to. It will be included on a soundtrack that also contains works by Hollywood heartthrob Ryan Gosling's gothic folk project Dead Man's Bones, Orlando emo-ish pop-punk group Between the Trees, and a solo piece from Gym Class Heroes' Travie McCoy.

The tatted-up-to-the-neck rap-rocker McCoy also has a part in the gripping drama that is inspired by the real-life story of Renee Yohe and her battle against depression, drugs, and "cutting" (self-mutilation). Kat Dennings plays lead. Most will recognize her from CBS' new breakout sitcom 2 Broke Girls. The alluring starlet also had roles in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist and as Catherine Keener's daughter in the smash hit The 40-Year-Old Virgin.

From the preview of the movie, currently in postproduction, Renee depicts the grittier realities of drug addiction juxtaposed with moments of rich, deep, escapist fantasy. Yohe and her struggle against her demons was the catalyst for the nonprofit organization To Write Love On Her Arms, a group that seeks solace for individuals with addiction, depression, and self-injury issues.

Getting back to Civilian's work... As Alexander had suggested earlier, the textured and layered "Don't Lose Heart" is a bit complex but no less engaging. Chiming and crunchy in all the right parts, the song is immediately endearing.  

The affecting song contains a white-noise-filled drum and guitar charge in the bridge that parallels to something off the Beatles' White Album. Alexander's voice, multitracked though it may be, still comforts the listener with its warmth. Combine that with an uplifting message and it's a no-brainer why Renee producers chose this track to be included in soundtrack. Also keep in mind, this is only a demo that Alexander was kind enough to share with us. It can simply get better from here.

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Alex Rendon