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iPod Chicanery, Round Two, Part One

I almost managed to write a summary before the first 100 tracks elapsed, but sitting down for forty minutes is a far more difficult task than I initially imagined. I, gulp, made it to 103 before I found some free time.

General Sentiment: I was rather astonished by how downright friendly the first ninety tracks were. Late in the loading process I found myself dropping a few tracks from semi-forbidden records, i.e. indie rock standbys and last round favorites, and it's astonishing just how many of these particular songs came up. The only Lefty's Deceiver song, one of three Stella Link songs, one of two Sixto songs, the only Clark song, one of two Castor songs, one of a scant few Faith No More songs, one of two Faraquet songs ("Call It Sane," of course)... I'm sure there are more than I'm forgetting. I had anticipated a much more challenging barrage to start the second round, but this array of familiar tracks was actually a bit disappointing.

Worst Transitions: This nomination is remarkably easy: anytime a section from Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians came up. First, the decision to opt for the many-tracked approach as opposed to the unwieldy 56-minute-long version ignored the fact that virtually none of these sections employ fade-ins or fade-outs. Second, sandwiching minimalist classical between Ghostface Killah and Killing Joke, between the Dirty Three and the Stella Link, or between Dinosaur Jr and Ween may seem interesting, but one one of those transitions (the lead-in to the Stella Link) wasn't jarring. It's absolutely nothing against the Reich piece itself, which I've enjoyed on every occasion, but I just don't see this problem getting any better.

Worst Timing: I rarely take the T, but Brian Eno's "Zawinul" managed to come on during one of those rare trips on the red line. No matter how much I turned up the volume, I could only hear a faint echo of what I imagined is very well crafted ambient music. Straining to hear ambient music seems antithetical to me.

Best Timing: Though Cat Power's cover of Smog's "Red Apples" may have been more fitting for a particularly gray Boston afternoon, my walk around downtown was significantly more fun when the Stooges' "Search and Destroy" came on. I wished that I had rollerblades with me at the time (yes, skateboarding would hold more cachet, but rollerblading is what I'm good at) so I could skate around City Hall plaza.

Song Someone Else Enjoyed: I'm somewhat surprised that anyone could hear the music with six people crammed into the Corolla for a drive from Fenway to Inman Square, but my wife managed to pick out Shannon Wright's "You Baffle Me" from the forthcoming Let in the Light LP from the din of complaint. It's not too surprising that this Shannon Wright record has more crossover appeal than her last official album, Over the Sun from 2004, since that record's dark and violent swings from June of 44-esque guitar rock to claustrophobic piano ballads are understandably difficult to digest. If Let in the Light is Wright's attempt to move away from the dramatic scope of her last few records (a process started with her collaboration with Yann Tiersen), it appears to be a success.

Most Trying Moment: Dinosaur Jr's "Poledo" came on during a drive home, which I didn't mind at first, but when I had to start my next trip in the midst of lo-fi radio buzz, I really wanted Mascis to come in and start shredding the hell out of Barlow's seemingly aimless noise. Definitely a track that makes somewhat more sense in the context of the record, but not one that I'm likely to pick out.

Most Rewarding Stretch: As I mentioned, most of the first run was unexpectedly familiar (barring a few notable exceptions, particularly GZA's "Liquid Swords"), but in the last ten to fifteen tracks I've gotten some definite standouts. Dr. Dooom's "Leave Me Alone" bodes well for the rest of First Come First Served with traditionally strong verses, some excellent non-sequiturs (motorcycle helmet?), and a curiously insistent chorus. David Bowie's excellent "Be Me Wife" justified the inclusion of two of his late '70s albums. Bobby Hutcherson's "West 22nd Street Theme" utilizes an interesting rotation of the instruments' importance to the mix and a strong melodic thread. Finally, Edsel's "Fortune of Space" had a surprising horn part, a great chorus, and a well-crafted outro, all of which helped temper hearing a few of Edsel's stock transitional tracks earlier in the round. A solid run both in terms of individual songs and aesthetic variety.