PREMIERE: Buckhead Shaman, The Janitor

The Janitor is a soundtrack. 

Soundtracks aren’t critiqued with the same scrutiny as traditional studio albums. Their appraisal is colored by the reception of the accompanying film. This is fine when the movie and its soundtrack are equally yoked in popularity and quality like Romeo + Juliet, Pulp Fiction, or Do the Right Thing. But there are plenty of dismal movies with stellar soundtracks: Prince’s Purple Rain, Garden State, and almost every Sophia Coppola film. And then there is Buckhead Shaman\’s soundtrack for The Janitor.

Otherwise known as Atlanta indie pop musician Tyler Hobbs, Buckhead Shaman enlisted the help of producers Gma Stuff and Kristofer Sampson for his second studio album, The Janitor. It is the soundtrack for a film of the same name that ostensibly never was or will be. 

Officially, The Janitor film is the story of a bizarre affair between a university professor and janitor. There’s a trailer and all, but mysteriously, no full-length feature. That\’s not a problem though. The Janitor, the album, is the framework to fill in the narrative gaps of The Janitor, the film. 

The Janitor’s sonic title sequence is the bouncing, 70s-steeped opener “I’m About It.” Perhaps it plays over establishing shots of a cityscape, like “Amoreena” by Elton John in the opening credits of Dog Day Afternoon. Then we are introduced to our peculiar main character in a hazily intimate and atmospheric title track. This is the titular janitor’s theme song, with its melody cohesively running as an overarching motif throughout the entirety of the score. 

From there, The Janitor might become a love story. “You Said It All With Your Eyes” is a soaring, infectious love song with tension bubbling right under the surface. “I Know That’s Right” has an innocently romantic, Frankie Valli-esque quality, but it too devolves into something more sinister than flirtatious. If The Janitor is a love story, “Touch Too Much,” “V Aroused,” and “Booty Cloud” imply things heat up with a sex scene that earns it an NC-17 rating. 

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Maybe The Janitor is a psychological thriller. Single “Legendary Bond” would have you believe so, repeatedly echoing “who sent my students to kill me?” There must be a disastrous turn of events at The Janitor’s denouement. The cacophonous “Gummy” is anxiety-producing, and “Someone in the Driveway” accompanies what has to be the appearance of a murderous assailant. Or are the professor and janitor lovers that turn on one another?

The finale of The Janitor is certainly thoughtful with its strangely cinematic closer. A lyricless and unobtrusive reprisal of the title track, “Indiana Pass Me By” would feel like a throwaway ending on a different album, but on The Janitor, it scores a beautifully poignant final scene. Like “The Sound of Silence” at the end of The Graduate, it offers a respite from the chaotic climax, allowing the film to wash over you and seep in. Then the janitor walks off into the sunset. Roll credits. Fade to black. Or he dies at the hands of the professor. Or he wakes up, and it was all a dream. The ending could be different every listen – The Janitor is written and directed by its audience, with original music by Buckhead Shaman. 100% certified fresh. Two thumbs way, way up.

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