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iPod Chicanery 2008 1-80

Opening Bell: After starting things off quietly with the title track from Brian Eno and Harold Budd’s Ambient II: The Plateaux of Mirror, I got the croaking bass of Smog’s “Natural Decline” from Rain on Lens. While I like a reasonably rocking Bill Callahan song as much as the next guy, it wasn’t until that track ended and Nas’s “Memory Lane (Sittin’ in Da Park)” came on that I felt like this project had really started. I’d put off listening to Illmatic despite its lofty status in “best rap albums” discussions, but “Memory Lane” quickly informed me of what I’d been missing.

Ghostface vs. Wu Tang: I’d skimmed The Big Doe Rehab and 8 Diagrams, but I hadn’t given either record a dedicated listen. Hearing Wu Tang’s “Take It Back” and Ghostface’s “Supa GFK” back to back followed quickly by Ghostface’s “Slow Down” made it clear that these records would be in dialogue throughout this project. The main thing I’ve noticed so far is how Ghostface’s incorporation of R&B vocals on “Slow Down” works better than Wu Tang’s attempts on “Stick Me for My Riches,” even though I enjoy the verses of that Wu Tang song enough to overlook my concerns. Still, I may end up leaning toward 8 Diagrams in the production department since I wasn’t expecting the woozy RZA solo track “Sunlight,” but it held up well enough on its own.

Strange Remembrace: Though I’d recently picked up T. Rex’s The Slider on vinyl, I hadn’t listened to the second side yet and was pleased that “Buick Mackane” rivaled the songs I’d already heard. But what struck me about hearing a song from The Slider was remembering that my English 101 instructor (and erstwhile Rectangle guitarist) Matt Mitchell assigned a poem on this record in my freshman intro to poetry course. I imagine that I have the course packet floating around somewhere, but I’m a bit frustrated that Googling hasn’t come up with anything yet. I remember enjoying that poem but thinking “Yeah, I doubt I’ll ever get a record from the ‘Bang a Gong (Get It On)’ band.” Oops.

Post-rock You Say: Despite Simon Reynolds coining “post-rock” in its honor, I’d never given Bark Psychosis a solid listen. Three songs from Hex have come up so far (within seven tracks, no less), with “The Loom” being the most memorable of them. I was at the laundromat at the time and had to compete with some blaring piano from a Spanish-language soap opera, but the subtlety of the track still came through. “Pendulum Man” was a bit too ambient for that environment, but it made sense in connection to the more fleshed-out “The Loom” and “Absent Friend.” At the very least I have another reference point (along with Talk Talk) for the Ghost Wars recordings that have come out so far.

If I Had Any Doubt…: …about The National’s Alligator living up to my fondness for Boxer, “City Middle” erased it.

Best Song of the Round: The Saints’ “Know Your Product” is clearly a precursor for Rocket for the Crypt, but it’s hard to think of any RFTC songs that were as melodic in the horn accompaniment.

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