I saved Latin! What did you ever do?” utters Rushmore’s quirky protagonist Max Fischer during a climactic moment of the excellent 1998 film. And, while the question was exclaimed rhetorically at the time, the folks at American Laundromat Records, can actually come back with a retort. In a move that surprisingly hasn’t previously been made, they’ve released I Saved Latin! A Tribute To Wes Anderson, a sprawling and ambitious collection of songs that have graced scenes of the famed director’s nine films, expertly covered by a diverse roster of talent.
For nearly 20 years now, Anderson has been marching to his own offbeat tune, making critically acclaimed movies that tell wild and sometimes far-out stories colored in by his own uniquely cool vision. His films are never dull and constantly bustle with life and energy, often buoyed by the inimitable musical selections that score his scenes. Anderson and his collaborators mine the deep cuts of artist catalogs, usually finding an obscure track to perfectly encapsulate the feelings and mood of a particular scene. Even when occasionally using standard, classic rock and roll material-“Street Fighting Man”, “Ziggy Stardust”-hearing them in Anderson’s context is often like hearing them for the very first time.
With such a full resume, at times, it can be difficult to remember the particular Anderson film each song appeared in, so it’s helpful that the liner notes tell you. So, if like me, you forgot that Love’s blistering “Along Again Or” appeared in Bottle Rocket or that Nico’s elegiac “Fairest of the Seasons” graced a poignant scene in The Royal Tenenbaums, you’ll be in luck. Those tunes, by the way, are gamely covered by like-minded artists Sara Lov and Trespassers William, respectively, which leads to another benefit of this album: it provides a great opportunity to check out some performers you may not have previously heard of. So, while you’ll recognize names like Matt Pond, Juliana Hatfield, and Mike Watt, you’ll also discover some new gems like the kaleidoscopic four-piece Saint Motel, Nashville torchers Escondido, and Seattle dream-poppers Tomten. With 23 tracks spread across two discs, there’s a cornucopia of tunes to delve into.
Like Anderson’s films, the songs can be a great soundtrack to both the odd surprises and the mundane daily tasks that often occupy life. They’ll make you smile at random moments, inspire you to dig through your record collection to create your own mix tapes, and probably even move you to add Anderson’s films back onto your Netflix queue. Full of emotion, creative spark, and indie whim, this album proves to be a cool concept and a musical treasure chest. It works well in tandem with the films they’re pulled from or glides along nicely as an independent collection of great songs reimagined by inventive artists.