For the second episode of this educational music series, I received a playlist from my friend Aileen Moroney. In our hometown of North Vancouver, we discuss and we share. There is more written information to come, once I get home from school.
I want to sincerely thank Matt Landry for his contribution to my musical education. He was enthusiastic about this project, and really put a lot of thought into his 202 songs. Here are the full notes I wrote over the 6 weeks in my notepad.
"This is an extremely well-prepared and well received collection of music. I should preface this by telling you what occurred the day we met. It was the Fall of 2005, and it was at UBC. I was blasting Interpol in my room as he entered. He entered my room, voiced his approval, and we assumed musical symmetry had been reached. Not quite. Our taste is certainly different; he has always been more musically eclectic than I have. I am only starting, and Matthew Landry has infinitely more music in his Rolodex. It's like I have just opened a NetFlix account and the options are overwhelming.
Interestingly, Matthew, who has a good sense of my taste in music presumed that I would know 3/10 songs on the iPod mix he prepared. Truthfully, I probably knew about 1/15 songs. This led to an exceptionally educational month, both in terms of me discovering new music myself, as well as learning more about Matthew's taste.
The Theme of the Definition of Love: THEN VS. NOW
Matthew seems to have a working definition, but his music seems to indicate that he is open to hearing a number of definitions. The songs seem to explore both the purposes and virtues of a modern type of love. That is where I felt a little confused.
Were these 'silly love songs' added with a sense of irony? Or was Matthew trying to appeal to my optimistic romantic side (Of the Fab Four, Paul is my man)? These timeless love songs were also sprinkled throughout the mix. Perhaps none stranger than the Starship song, "Nothing's Gunna Stop Us Now."
This happy, idealistic form of romance seemed contrasted by the emergence of the modern broken man and woman, with a noticably imperfect voice. Angel Olsen wobbles through her songs, Magnetic Fields (whom I adore) would also fit right into a dingy crooner bar with neon lights and green drinks. Jessica Pratt, Johnny Flynn, The Replacements; broken voices all around.
I think another element of polarization presented itself in the instrumentals. Basically, as indicated in the film, there were songs that were very good, some were forgettable, and some were memorable for the wrong reasons. The difference between these songs, and their placement within these various categories, is really determined by minimal differences. For example, I really enjoyed the Nathan Fake song for the first half, but then an effect is added during the upbeat second half of the song, that really distracts and seems out of place to me. In many ways, I find instrumental music harder to pull off, because the musical decisions are that much more apparent; a fantastic vocal performance can often elevate a song with average musical craftsmanship. Without that vocal element, the choices made during an instrumental are that much more important.
Matthew knows that I love The Strokes. I have since I was 17 years old. I was surprised that he included two songs on the mix. But even more interesting were the selections of the songs.
If you asked me to select two Strokes songs that define my taste in music, it would likely be "Someday" and "You Only Live Once." Matthew's selection? "Trying Your Luck," and "I Can't Win." Certainly different messages.
THE NATIONAL: I still don't like them at all. Many people have tried to get me on board, but for some reason I simply don't connect with it.
BJORK: What a missed opportunity! I have always kept a distance, wanting some way to start following this Icelandic artist. Landry picked the right songs. The music is hypnotic.
Matthew seems to have a number of deep voiced lead singers that he appreciates. Red House Painters, Kil Keel Moon, The National, Hayden, Magnetic Fields, Joy Division. I want to discuss this trend with him when we next meet, because I never noticed it before.
Matt really cares about his music. You can see it in his apartment, where he works, even on the iPod itself. There is a clear amount of musical research that has gone into this playlist. It seems like many of the songs selected were 'less famous cousins' of the songs that we know. Also, every song seems to have beautiful album art attached to it; Landry has obtained this music legally, and those images beautifully represent the music involved. Its almost like Landry likes to have music that connects with these images. This translates very well to me. When I listen to music, I am constantly thinking of imaginary music videos in my mind.
Matthew and I appear to have a different approach to music. My taste is seeping with naive optimism, whereas Matthew's seems to approach from an angle of experience and realism.
I have more to say, but I have reached my word limit. I will discuss more with Matthew in person.