Dial "M" for Musicology has issued an iPod random challenge, which has been picked up by Parlando, among others. I've done this twice before, in my first month of blogolalia. A fairly common practice, it seems. I wasn't sure at the time whether I wanted to make it a regular feature. In the event, I did not. Anyway, even before this challenge, I'd been thinking it would be fun to do it again. So, here goes. These are, then, the last 15 songs that I heard yesterday on my iPod:
1. Sun Ra - "Outer Nothingness": I don't have a lot of Sun Ra, and The Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra, Vol. 1, is the only one I have on the iPod. This is the more abstract Sun Ra, from the mid-sixties--no typical jazz groove or beat to speak of, but an insistent pulse of sorts, with ever-shifting horn fanfare. . .
2. Charlie Feathers - "Everybody's Lovin' My Baby": I'd never heard of Charlie Feathers before a few years ago, when I bought the 2-cd collection, Get With It, solely because it was on John Fahey's great Revenant label. I figured, if Fahey dug him, he must be worth checking out. I figured right. One of those early Sun Records guys, Feathers played some mean rockabilly.
3. Broadcast - "Tender Buttons": I'm new to Broadcast. I'd been hearing about them for a couple years now, got 2005's Tender Buttons cd last year. Excellent electro-pop; this track has very nice strummy guitar, pleasantly obliterated by electronic noise.
4. Liars - "Grown Men Don't Fall in the River, Just Like That": Which actually leads in pretty well to this high-energy neo-post-punk song from Liars' first album. I like Liars. I saw them play at the Black Cat in DC, in the wake of their widely reviled second cd. The show consisted entirely of songs from that cd, and was incredible.
5. The Pop Group - "She is Beyond Good and Evil": And here we have "real" post-punk. I bought the Pop Group's 1979 album Y as part of my effort to fill in some of the gaps with the less well-known (in the States) punk and post-punk and otherwise left-field artists. This is probably the best song on the cd.
6. M is the 13th Letter - "Napoleon": One of David Pajo's many solo projects. This is an easy-going, yet very Slint-like instrumental, found on his Hole of Burning Alms compilation.
7. Brian Eno & David Byrne - "A Secret Life": A short track from My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, just reissued on cd last year. I still haven't quite absorbed this album, but I definitely like huge portions of it. This track features guitar stabs, swirling sound effects, and vocal chant samples (like, um, most of the rest of the album).
8. Pet Shop Boys - "Was it Worth It?": When I got the iPod, I loaded a lot of cds onto it that had languished in obscurity in my collection. Discography was one of them; I'd bought it for one or two songs (basically "West End Girls" and a couple of others), but never really listened to it in full. As it happens, the Pet Shop Boys' chilly disco is perfect for the shuffle feature. This song is just fine.
9. Love - "Laughing Stock": I finally bought Forever Changes last year, and everyone is right: it's a fantastic album. Yet another album from 1967 that I like better than Sgt. Pepper. But "Laughing Stock" is a b-side bonus track on the cd, and it's nothing like as good as the regular album songs. I may have to remove it from the iPod.
10. Broken Social Scene - "Bandwitch": Broken Social Scene was one indie band du jour that I did appreciate. From my first listen, I liked the hell out of You Forgot It In People, which I found endlessly re-playable. Each song seemed to stand out. But the self-titled second cd, from which "Bandwitch" comes, is a much murkier deal, a kind of muddy soup of a record, with nothing grabbing my attention. I've found, however, that many of the individual songs work much better when they come up randomly, than the album did as a whole. This song is a good example. It's got a steady mid-tempo rhythm, like most of the album, and suggests a sort of communal groove, somehow, with voices bubbling up from the haze. . .
11. Mouse On Mars - "The Illking": I've cooled on Mouse On Mars in the last couple of years, but I was into them pretty heavily there for a while. This song is from Idiology, the last album I had much interest in. It's all electronic squeaks and orchestral string swells and sounds good coming up on my own personal radio like this.
12. The Rolling Stones - "Imagination": I love The Rolling Stones, and I like Some Girls just fine. This cover of The Temptations' "Just My Imagination" is good, but not exactly upper-tier Stones music. Incidentally, the Stones' Steel Wheels show at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia was only the third show I ever attended (Living Colour opened).
13. William Parker Clarinet Trio - "Fence in the Snow": Over the course of 28 minutes, bassist William Parker and drummer Walter Perkins keep the music moving, with Perry Robinson on clarinet. This is beautiful free jazz from a wonderful album (the 2-cd Bob's Pink Cadillac set on Eremite), which I bought in the middle of my heavy out-jazz period, when I was buying pretty much everything by William Parker. You can go broke very quickly trying to buy everything by William Parker.
14. The Mavericks - "What a Crying Shame": See the Pet Shop Boys comment, above. Have had this cd for years, for no apparent reason. It's perfectly decent country, I guess, but not really something I care all that much about. Dude's voice reminds me of Roy Orbison's, when it doesn't remind me too much of Chris Isaak's. Anyway, this song is kind of lost here, trapped between the 28-minute William Parker free jazz and 12-plus minutes of 1970s Miles Davis coming next.
15. Miles Davis - "Moja (Part 1)": Ah, yes. Electric Miles, from Dark Magus. This stuff can be exhausting, these huge slabs of music that Miles was churning out in the early seventies, but I like it. I often find that I get to know music like this much better when it can flow over me, which is what happens when I listen to music with the iPod (I use it primarily at work or, if I'm too tired to read, on the train during my commute).
In many ways this list is not representative at all of my main musical interests. From this list, only Broadcast, with Tender Buttons, and Love, with Forever Changes, have albums that I listened to with any sort of regularity last year. Oh, and the perennial Rolling Stones. But in some sense, that very non-representativeness does represent my collection quite well. I have dabbled. I have been profligate. I've been afflicted with musical ADD. I have way too many cds.