Roommate CD Collection Merger

The Pitchfork Top 50 CDs of 2004 are up. The mini-Behind the Music NPR story has aired. The buzz has subsided enough for the mainstream indie rock masses to take notice, listen, and discover for themselves. Now that I’ve listened to my favorite mp3 blog-donated song, “Rebellion (Lies),” in excess of a hundred times and bought my roommate the CD for Christmas under the guise of a selfless and thoughtful friend, today I had to break down and ask her if I could burn my own copy of the Arcade Fire’s critically acclaimed album, Funeral. This request was successful.

We’ve come into the age of buying our own presents for other people, and the only reason I didn’t feel completely rotten about doing this was that she did the same thing when asked me to burn her a copy of the birthday present she got me last month...Earlimart's Treble & Tremble. But she didn't want that until weeks later, when she heard the songs flowing out of my cracked open door and I had already bought us tickets to the Troubadour show. Now just like she listens to Earlimart more than I do, I'll probably listen to the Arcade Fire more than she does.

Of course, while listening to the first track, "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)" building up to its piano-laden crescendo and eventually turning the track promptly back to its beginning for yet another listen (this time so I notice it enough to write about it and don’t just complacently discount it as background music), I don’t mind this selfish CD gift buying one bit. Especially listening to what will happen at approximately 2:44 into “Une Annee Sans Lumiere,” the fourth track, and what will effectively overtake this melancholy buildup on the fifth track, “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out).” What do these neighborhood numbers represent? Different emotions felt, ways of dealing with the tragedy of pain, melting instruments together in harmony?

Listening to the Arcade Fire right now, I appreciate the simple things, like how I got this record in my hands in the first place. There’s a fringe benefit of sharing an apartment with someone who also shares your taste in music. I just wish I had thought of this sooner. It’s difficult to find a boyfriend who appreciates my taste in music (future self please note: taste in music is very important criteria for the man I end up marrying…please don’t lose sight of how important this is. Please don’t let it get displaced by something like income), but it was surprisingly easy to find that quality in a roommate/friend, off the anonymity of craigslist, no less. I remember when I first visited the apartment as a prospective roommate and Beck’s “Little One” was playing. I took a glance at her CD case spines on display and knew this would be my new home. I hadn’t even completely moved in yet when she raided my collection for new acquisitions, new music to discover and appreciate. Her boyfriend ridiculously questioned the presence of Death Cab for Cutie among my CDs at a party shortly thereafter (my college affinity for Ben Gibbard’s lyrical composition and style shall be explored in a future post, but I’d rather not get into it now…although it would make for an interesting random tangent), but he is also responsible for me listening to songs like Rockets from the Tomb’s “Amphetamine.”

Anyway, my moving the good old CD collection into the Silver Lake apartment was what I’d like to liken to the opposite of divvying up your collection during a bitter divorce. It was an essential merger, a profitable blending of assorted music, available on demand, an instantly updated jukebox. And now I can be my music-nut self, relaxing with ease while I enjoy turning the volume control generously clock-wise, remembering the old West Hollywood apartment, where I didn’t feel comfortable blasting weird-from-the-mainstream-perspective music for fear that it wouldn’t be worth it to have my old roommate come home and pop her head in, still blabbing away on her hands-free cell and whisper “can you please turn it down?” and then be able to hear her overblown boy manipulations unfortunately displace the lead singer in the background. Definitely not worth it.

Now, in a new and improved environment, I can wash the dishes listening to Wilco (like I did this morning) and write about music while I’m listening to this year’s most praised release. Right now I’m on “Haiti,” which I heard was about the girl singer’s dead family members in Haiti. I can’t really tell what she’s singing, and I don’t have the lyrics with me to find out, but the music is gorgeous, a bouncy, meditation with a lively bass and an ever-present thick, fluty ambience that feels like it wouldn’t ever stop if you just let it go. And right after this song is “Rebellion (Lies),” which may very well be my favorite song of this year. I tend to describe music using way too many overblown descriptions, but if I were to pick four words to describe this song, they would be comfortable sad orchestral rock. And beautiful goes without saying.


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