If the Frames were as big in America as they are in their Irish motherland or other parts of the world, "Once," a musical dramedy starring frontman Glen Hansard and filmed by his former bassist John C

If the Frames were as big in America as they are in their Irish motherland or other parts of the world, "Once," a musical dramedy starring frontman Glen Hansard and filmed by his former bassist John Carney, would be bigger than "A Hard Day's Night." But much like the Replacements in the '80s, their amazing songs fall on the ears of their modest, yet rabid cult following stateside who show no desire to see their favorite group blow up big enough to get chewed up and spat out by the hit machine.

"Once" is the story of couple who fall in love after a pretty Czech immigrant played by singer Marketa Irglova tosses chump change at Hansard's woebegone street busker and they then start to jam and make beautiful music together, all of which is featured on this equally charming soundtrack. A few of these songs are alternate, solo versions of key Frames cuts, most notably a beautifully mellower version of "Falling Slowly" from this year's "The Cost."

Other Frames songs like the old warhorse "Say It To Me" from 1996's "Fitzcarraldo" and "When Your Mind's Made Up," another standout "Cost" cut, are softened up for movie land, but this new approach brings out a Cat Stevens-like quality in Hansard's songs. But for the strong Frames presence all over this film/music project, its actually Irglova's solo performances that stand out, particularly "If You Want Me." Here's hoping it's all enough to finally give these artists a break in the States. -- Ron Hart