Nonpoint Well Taken

Nonpoint is one of those rare South Florida bands that doesn't mind being a South Florida band. It's been six years since Nonpoint joined the majors, but Broward County's alt-metal stalwarts are still planted firmly in the peninsula. So it's only appropriate (and just) that their cover of Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight" was chosen for the Miami Vice soundtrack. Six and a half weeks into Nonpoint's current tour (promoting its latest album, To the Pain), vocalist Elias Soriano spoke to Outtakes during some down time in Pittsburgh.

Outtakes: How's the tour going so far?

Soriano: It's probably our best-attended tour that we've ever had — a lot of cool shows and rabid fans. We've been bringing kids up on stage. It's been a long one, but it's been good.

Do you think being on the Miami Vice soundtrack was a boost for the band?

More so in the "adult contemporary" side of our fanbase. "Bullet With a Name" is the track that's been getting the most reaction from people. That's the song they want to see us play. ["In the Air Tonight"] has been turned into more of a novelty thing with the Miami Vice soundtrack. Before, we were doing it because we were covering a song that wasn't a rock song. We wanted to do something a little bit different. Lo and behold, three years later, they come out with a movie where this song's an iconic part of it. It was a matter of chance. Hopefully, it'll be something that will help the band.

Did Bieler Bros. [the group's Pompano Beach-based label] hook that up?

Getting on the soundtrack was a year and a half in the making. It was on and off like, "Hey, do you want to use it?" "Ah... we'll let you know." And then finally they were like, "Oh we have to use it because the movie's coming out now." It turned into this wound-up hoopla like, for a brief moment, we were the next big thing.

What type of video footage will be on your greatest-hits CD/DVD?

It'll have our most recent show at Revolution [in April]. We just finished editing and mastering it. It should be out in time for Christmas.

You're coming up on your ten-year anniversary in January. What is it that keeps you guys in South Florida after all these years?

It's home. I'm not a New York or L.A. person. I don't think any of us are. Nonpoint joins Evan's Blue, Bullet for My Valentine, Ankla, and Eighteen Visions for the End of Summer Slam on Saturday, September 30, at Markham Park, 16001 W. State Rd. 84, Sunrise. Doors open at noon. Tickets cost $26. Call 954-966-3309, or visit Zach Attack

Scrubs star Zach Braff's directorial debut, Garden State, was more than just an art-house hit about 20-something depression. When it was released in 2004, its melancholic soundtrack was like a nursery for up-and-coming dream-pop bands and acoustic-minded artists. Braff, the album's executive producer, won a Grammy. Acts such as Frou Frou, Iron & Wine, Colin Hay, and the Shins mingled freely with Nick Drake and Simon & Garfunkel and saw their record sales skyrocket thanks to Braff's nurturing. His latest film, The Last Kiss, isn't his baby (it was directed by Tony Goldwyn, the guy who killed Patrick Swayze in Ghost) but the powers-that-be were smart enough to dub him Soundtrack Music Producer and let him try to re-create Garden State's magic. As production commenced on the sixth season of Scrubs, he talked with Outtakes about his new status in the music biz and making pimp-ass mixes.

Outtakes: Would you call yourself a tastemaker?

Braff: I don't know, man. I know less about music than the average person. There are plenty of bands you'd be shocked I've never listened to. I just have music that I like, and I think if I'm decent at anything, it's being able to pick the right songs to put to picture. I've got a bunch of friends who are musicians, and they're always sharing music and talking music, and now I have this blog on my own site and MySpace where people recommend music to me all the time. So it sort of snowballs and feeds itself. But I don't know if I'm a tastemaker. I'm maybe a catalyst for people discovering new music.

Do you enjoy being expected to know what's musically hip?

I don't know what's hip, really. I just know what I like. There's no real science to what I do, other than making a decent mix CD of music I really like.

What are the differences between a mix CD and a soundtrack for you?

I think the main difference is, you want to find music that will bring out the emotion of a scene without upstaging the dialogue or what the actors are doing. I think you can have a song that you love, that's one of your favorite songs, but it's not right for the movie because it's either lyrically or melodically competing with what the scene's about. When I did Garden State and Tony [Goldwyn] directed The Last Kiss, very rarely did we use music under dialogue. It's usually used as a transition or under a montage.

Does your mailbox get swamped with promotional CDs nowadays?

Yeah, tons of stuff. I get boxes and boxes of CDs. I give most of it away, though. I can't listen to it all.

Is there a mix CD no-no that everyone should follow?

There are no rules. Just good music.

Making Adjustments

Despite an endless audience for radio-friendly music, most pop-oriented artists eventually become bored with straightforward pop-music structures — a tradition that's been carried down from the Beatles to Christina Aguilera. And really, who can blame them? Even though it's one of the hardest things to construct, the pop hit is also the most limiting, the tune they'll nearly always be requested to perform to the exclusion of other, often more relevant work.

In a sense, monster boy band 'NSync echoed Radiohead's career trajectory. The squeaky-clean quintet mesmerized the Top 40 glitterati with "Bye Bye Bye" and "Tearin' Up My Heart" before embracing producers such as BT and the Neptunes on 2001's experimental, hip-hop-leaning Celebrity — which sold far fewer copies than its predecessor, 2000's No Strings Attached. The stylistic shift paved the way for the group's figurehead, Justin Timberlake, when he went solo and released 2002's Justified. A slick disc that pays homage to Michael Jackson, disco, soul, and modern hip-hop, Justified established the 25-year-old as a bona fide pop star in his own right — even though (and probably because) it sounded like nothing else on the airwaves at the time.

Timberlake attempts to solidify his street rep further on the new FutureSex/LoveSounds, thanks to collaborations with Snoop Dogg, T.I.,, and Three 6 Mafia. But instead of playing to his strengths, Sounds finds Timberlake obscuring his sonic gifts behind trendy production and conceits. The most frustrating thing, actually, is that he's trying to downplay his status as pop icon. Timberlake's the rare artist capable of creating killer ear candy that's progressive and accessible; on Sounds, he seems reluctant to acknowledge this.

Take "SexyBack," for example. It's certainly distinctive, but with minimalist techno drip-drops, squelching tracks, and random Timbaland interjections ("Get your sexy on!"), its appeal is gradual, not immediate. The bigger problem with "SexyBack," however — the song's lack of hooks and dynamics — plagues much of Sounds. Timberlake's pop-song deconstructions are just boring; most tunes just don't go anywhere interesting once they've established a rhythmic and lyrical pattern. "Sexy Ladies" uses über-'80s synth swerves and a loping funk bass reminiscent of Prince but wastes it on almost-bored vocals. That's not to say there aren't some interesting moments. "LoveStoned" is a string-laden disco-tango driven by panting beatboxing, while the interlude "Let Me Talk to You" is a hyperactive Basement Jaxx-esque percussive collage.

Overall, though, the closest parallel in 2006 to Sounds is Thom Yorke's The Eraser, an album also built on a foundation of repetition, half-formed phrases, and detailed sonic atmosphere. The Eraser works because fragmentation is expected from Yorke, whose entire shtick is T-shirt sloganeering reconfigured as poetry. Sounds is obviously Timberlake's attempt to hang with pop's new kings, the hip-hop guys — but instead of sounding modern, he simply sounds outclassed.

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Jason Budjinski