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iPod Chicanery, Part Five

The first round of iPod Chicanery is done after nearly three months. In retrospect, I wish I had posted more frequent updates about the project, but that aspect was lacking my typical level of obsessive specification. This round counted for the final 261 of the 1164 total songs and seemingly went much faster than the previous rounds, but I can’t validate that with any sort of information.

Overlooked Facet: I really have to thank any of the people who sat in on this project as I drove around Boston. My wife took the brunt of it, but I’m guessing that at least ten other people suffered through the curious will of my iPod. Next time I’ll try to keep track of who has to listen to what.

Double Take: When I heard Slint’s “Glenn” on a gray morning, I thought that it fit perfectly with the uneasy cast of the Cambridge streets. That completely alien guitar line floors me every time I hear it, so when the song came up in the final hour of the project, I was worried that I might have comprised the integrity of the project. No, the issue was that the Slint EP had somehow made it onto my Nano twice, once as indie and once as post-rock. I’m somewhat surprised that I didn’t notice when “Rhoda” came up a second time, but the first time probably wasn’t within the prior few days.

Best Transition: I’m usually disappointed when two songs come in a row, but hearing Tungsten74’s “Guitar Solo and “Come Sweet Death” (two rare short songs in their catalog) back to back worked surprisingly well. Both songs may seem like transitional pieces on Aleatory Element and Binaurally Yours, respectively, but the precise layering in each track condenses their typical sprawl quite well.

Stealthy Long Song: I initially thought Philip Glass’s “Mad Rush” was another fine entry from Solo Piano that would pass by in about six minutes, but it kept going for almost fourteen. I was more surprised than dismayed, however, as I’ve become a fan of Glass’s piano-oriented work since picking up Glassworks on LP last year. I remember that particular commute taking much longer than usual, so “Mad Rush” may not have been accurate in terms of the title, but the song made the wait a bit easier.

New Favorite Song: I feel like I’ve switched favorite Lungfish songs every other day since finally getting into them this year, but “Fill the Days” from Indivisible has a great combination of a memorable riff and prototypically great lyrics. “Fill the days with significant waste / Fill the days with meaningful refuse / Fill the days with interesting things to say / Fill the days with gradual decay” has been running through my head since it came up on random (grabbing the LP in February hasn’t hurt, either), and though it doesn’t quite take the lyrical expanse of “Space Orgy,” “Hallucinatorium” or “Creation Story” into account, that perspective on day-to-day living is a bit more accessible (read: less shamanistic) to my existence. I don’t know why I never picked up this record after hearing a minute sample of this song on the Southern web site, but it’s better late than never.

New Favorite Album: I’ve come to realization that while the peaks on Speaking in Tongues make for most of my favorite Talking Heads songs, Fear of Music is a more consistent record in terms of songwriting and aesthetics. The afro-beat influence never overwhelms the post-punk nerviness. “Animals” and “Heaven” stuck out particularly during this round, but every song made me turn my head.

Join the Club: The lyrics on Interpol’s Turn on the Bright Lights are almost uniformly laughable. If not for the instrumental precision and Paul Banks’s delivery, I don’t know if I could stomach this record. I don’t know if I could make the same case for Antics, a record that lacks some of the solid album tracks like “The New.”

Worst Pause: Hearing Swirlies’ “San Cristobal de las Casas,” one of my work-out jams, on the drive to the Middle East for the Twilight Sad / A Northern Chorus show, got me drumming on the steering wheel, but pausing it halfway through to run out into the cold rain seemed unfair to the song. I had the final minute and a half waiting for me on the ride home, which meant that I started it up again in the midst of one of those galloping riffs.

Best No Pause: I got to hear Juno’s “Leave a Clean Camp and a Dead Fire” in its entirety on a run up to Reading last Friday. Thankfully I didn’t have to accelerate at the same measured pace as the song; I hit its high point immediately after merging onto 93 and kept it there (namely 77 on cruise control) until I reached my destination.

Unkind Perspective: None of the subsequent June of 44 records topped Engine Takes to Water in my view (although Four Great Points came close), but the bizarre beat poetry of “Pale Horse Sailor” has never sat well with me. Hearing it again and not being able to skip it made me remember how frequently June of 44 veered toward unjustifiable self-indulgence. “Sharks and Sailors” turned this sort of nautical fetishism into an actual song, so its aimless precursors should be retroactively erased.

Final Run: If not for Talking Heads’ “Electric Guitar”—an excellent song that transitioned poorly—the final two songs of the project would have been Mock Orange’s introspective “Old Man” and Eluvium’s “Perfect Neglect in a Field of Statues,” an amazing combination of statement and reflection, but the final three was still manageable.

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