The first promo I ever got in the mail was a cassette of Kicking Giant’s Alien I.D., sent to me by someone at K Records with an apparent soft spot for rural would-be zine makers. I included a short review of it in the single issue of my first attempt at a zine—a series of short reviews of things I liked, which I ran off on my dad’s photocopier and distributed to a handful of friends who already knew the things I liked and the reasons I liked them. Obviously the whole enterprise was redundant, but in retrospect it was a meaningful moment vis-a-vis my career path.

It wasn’t just nostalgia that prompted me to buy Alien I.D. from iTunes over the weekend. I kept it in heavy rotation for years after that review, and though I never tried to emulate it as closely as I did other records I obsessed over, it definitely had a huge, if subtle, effect on me as a musician. And ten bucks would be a completely fair price just for the album’s epic closer, “She’s Real (Version),” which begins as a melancholy minimalist tribute to Phil Spector-style pop, melts into a puddle of gorgeous noise, and finally resolves itself into a slanted cover of the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby.” (You might know the song via a woefully inferior cover version on the Built to Spill/Caustic Resin split.)