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iPod Chicanery 2008 81-780

Just looking at that number range makes me cringe, but I’ve recognized several things that have kept me from updating consistently during this round. First, including only unfamiliar material was a mistake. I thought that if every song was a candidate for an entry, I’d end up writing more often, but the opposite occurred. Whereas in previous iterations I was able to contextualize the new material within the bounds of my regular listening pile, the endless unfamiliarity of this round never gives me a chance to collect my thoughts. After one song ends, I’m immediately considering the next.

Second, some of the included albums didn’t catch on as much as I hoped, which I’ll elaborate upon in a minute. Assuming that I’ll enjoy an album based on a text description or critical response often works, but it also leads to records that I should enjoy but for whatever reason just don’t click. The Pop Group, I am looking at you.

Finally, not listening to my iPod consistently has prevented any particular artist from having a huge impact. In addition to my previously mentioned battles with the cassette adapter for my car, I’ve also been driving significantly less. Without a daily commute to rely on, I’ve gone up to two weeks in between listening sessions. I also only had one long drive during this period and that suffered from the ol’ cassette adapter barely playing the left channel of audio. Considering that I will not have a commute in the foreseeable future because of telecommuting, I’m going to forgo the remaining 379 songs and focus on my Record Collection Reconciliation project.

While closing up shop on this round makes it seem like this attempt was a complete failure, my record collection disagrees. It looks like I’ve grabbed albums from Boys Life, Brian Eno & David Byrne, Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy, Iggy Pop, Keith Jarrett, Panel Donor, Pere Ubu, Raekwon, Roxy Music, The Velvet Underground, and XTC that were either on this list or inspired by inclusions, and that doesn’t include artists like the Cocteau Twins, Colin Newman, and Kraftwerk, in which cases I expanded an already existing artist collection with an album that wasn’t on this list. I hopefully made that as convoluted as possible, but the moral is that this project introduced me to new records and I tracked some of them down for a closer look.

To close out this project, I’m going to keep the following albums on my iPod for non-forced random listening, perhaps even to hear in their entirety.

Mekons - Fear and Whiskey: While I own a still-unplayed copy of Mekons’ 1988 release So Good It Hurts (RCR awaits), I wanted to include the Mekons album most sources cite as their best. I’ve heard eight of the ten tracks so far, but British take on the American Southwest in “Trouble Down South” is just too good to remove.

Last Days - Sea: While I enjoyed Last Days’ 2007 album These Places Are Now Ruins enough to include “Swimming Pools at Night” on my year-end mix, its 2006 predecessor is simply a stronger album. Longer tracks like “Your Birds,” “The Norwegian Sea,” and “Fear” pull closer to post-rock than the ambient approach found on many of the shorter tracks, but it’s the balance between these two elements that strikes me. The soundtrack to late night summer reading, I’m sure.

Raekwon - Only Built 4 Cuban Linx: I recently picked up the 12" single of “Ice Cream” and “Incarcerated Subjects,” neither of which had come up yet in the randomized playlist, but I’m more interested in hearing those songs within the context of the album than jumping on that single. Considering my ever-growing fondness for GZA’s Liquid Swords, I’m kicking myself for not checking both of these records out at least five years ago when I asked Merrye Curry to pass along rap recommendations.

Charles Mingus - Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus: I’ve enjoyed whenever Mingus, Davis, Monk, Coltrane, Hancock, and Dolphy have come up during the course of iPod Chicanery, but actually putting on one of their albums has been difficult. I picked up Mingus Ah Um from RRRecords a few months back, but I should give his other album from this round a little more time to sink in.

The Saints - Eternally Yours: After being floored by the Rocket from the Crypt-like blast of “Know Your Product,” I kept an eye out for any additional Saints songs that came up. While only the similarly titled “No, Your Product” equals the introductory salvo, I’ve definitely enjoyed having the energy of this Australian punk band to counteract some of the more trying moments of this round.

Edit: I decided to also keep Mouse on Mars' Autoditacker, Boys Life's Departures and Landfalls, The Pupils' self-titled LP, Eric Dolphy's Out to Lunch, Colin Newman's A-Z and Not To, Bark Psychosis's Hex, Nas's Illmatic, and Public Enemy's Fear of a Black Planet on my iPod.