The Covalent Bond

This site is dedicated to the sharing of ideas in the field of music, literature, and whatever else strikes my fancy. To play the music, you must have Rhapsody. I am just getting started. There will be more to come. "Imagination is more important than knowledge." -- Albert Einstein

Monday, July 31, 2006

The Quest for the Holy Grail

The Negative Creep and I were on a quest this weekend to see Art Brut. Braving incendiary heat and dehydration, our crusade led us to the Pitchfork Musical Festival in Chicago. Our goal was to be next to the stage, front row for Art Brut. With temperatures high into the 90's, we staked out a position during The Mountain Goats show about 10 feet from the stage. As The Mountain Goats finished their great show with "The Terror Song," the Negative Creep and I made our move and rushed toward the front of the stage and secured our spot. Happiness prevailed, as we realized that we now have the best spot to watch the greatest band in the world. This is not just my opinion, but also Greg Kott, of the Chicago Tribune, who in today's paper said, "for the moment, at least, Art Brut is the best band in the world." With a show that started out with a little teasing riff from AC/DC's "Highway to Hell," the band exploded into a hysteria-causing version of "Formed A Band." With the audience chanting the lyrics, Eddie Argos worked the crowd into a frenzy. There was so much press near the stage, that security had to clear the majority of them out. The rock and roll frenzy continued with "Bang Bang Rock & Roll." Jasper Future banged out chords on his guitar while running all over the stage in a nonstop show of energy that was hard to believe, considering the heat. Eddie Argos performed shoeless, in funky striped socks. At one point he ventured into the crowd, which just increased Art Brut mania in the US a couple of notches. Art Brut ended the show drenched in sweat with a killer version of "Good Weekend."

The Negative Creep and I wanted more, but no encores were performed due to the heat and keeping Pitchfork on schedule. We decided to see if we could get a set list. As the roadies tore down the equipment, the Negative Creep was lucky enough to obtain the set list (see the photo at the beginning of the post). If that was not enough, as we were leaving the concert, we actually ran into Eddie Argos and Jasper Future! They were nice enough to chat with us for a few minutes and autographed the set list. If you are wondering what Ego Underfed refers to, it is the Negative Creep's new band. "Ego Underfed to The Top of the Pops." Now that truly was a "good weekend."

One can never have enough Art Brut. Click here to listen.

1. Formed a Band (Original) - Art Brut
2. Bang Bang Rock & Roll (Original) - Art Brut
3. Modern Art (Original) - Art Brut
4. 18000 Lira (Original) - Art Brut
5. My Little Brother (Original) - Art Brut
6. Good Weekend (Original) - Art Brut

Song of the Day - July 31, 2006

It's time to end July with a bang. Awesome Color's debut self-titled album is awesome in more than just color. It is one of the best albums I have heard all year! This Ann Arbor, Michigan band captures the spirit of their forebearers, Iggy and the Stooges and The MC5. In fact, lead singer and guitarist Derek Stanton grew up across the street from Stooges' guitarist Scott Asheton. Though the band presently is based out of Brooklyn, that raw powered Michigan sound permeates every note of Awesome Color's work. With the help of producer Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, Awesome Color has created a masterpiece of garage rock. There is not a low point in the whole album. I am particularly enamored with "Hat Energy," with its screeching sax and Derek's prowling vocals, the fuzzed out bluesy guitar solos of "It's Your Time," and the interchange between guitar and vocals on "Free Man." If you only listen to one tune on this album, make it "Ridin'." The energy literally overflows out of the recording, igniting everything in its path. Click here to listen.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Song of the Day - July 28, 2006

Shonen Knife are often referred to as the Ramones of Japan. After 25 years of existence they are still producing great music. Genki Shock is one of their best albums in recent years. I love the high energy of "S'p'a'm," the otherworldly jazz influenced "Broccoli Man," and the high pitched vocals of "Giant Kitty." However, it is the vocal harmonies, catchy guitar riffs, and the silly story of arachnid death in "Spider House" that intrigued me the most. Click here to listen.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Song of the Day - July 27, 2006

As the sound waves of Conner's Hello Graphic Missle enticed my ear drums, I tried to place them geographically. My first thought was that they were from Great Britain, however, a little research proved that my initial intuition was false; this quartet is from all places Lawrence, Kansas. With a sound that would be perfectly comfortable at Top of the Pops, which unfortunately ends its 42 year run on the BBC this month, Conner has created a great album; one that should be emanating from radios all summer. Conner reaches deep into the musical closet of influences, going back to bands such as The Velvet Underground, Clash, Rolling Stones, Gang of Four, and much more recently, Franz Ferdinand. Their post-punk funk dance rhythms are highly contagious and sure to infect those within earshot with a bout of dance fever. I especially enjoyed "Silent Film Score" an especially virulent strain of dance inducing sonic vibrations. Click here to listen.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Song of the Day - July 26, 2006

Mount Eerie is the result of an evolution of Phil Elvrum's band The Microphones. The exact year of this evolutionary transformation was 2003. The album Singers is a collection of songs recorded over the past few years. Phil's vocals, his sparse arrangements, and choir-like background vocals are very much in the spirit of Neal Young. I loved this album, and picking a favorite tune proved very difficult. The first two tracks, "Let's Get Out of the Romance" and "Ut Oh! It's Mourningtime Again," are some of the best on the album. God, I love his use of backing vocals juxtaposed with his plaintive vocals! However, the most moving track is "Human;" an emotional song where Elvrum is accompanied by piano, while utilizing his background singers in a very spiritual manner. I felt as if I should be bowing my head in reverence while listening to this song. Click here to listen.

A Grand Playlist

One of the highlights of my trip to Arizona was a visit to the Grand Canyon. The never ending vistas were beautiful to the eye and soul. Pictures do not do it justice. I only wish I had more time to visit. Here's a little jazz inspired by my daydreams of the Grand Canyon. Click here to listen.

1. Neophilia 2006 - The Bennie Maupin Ensemble
2. Talking Heads - Ben Allison
3. Natural Instinct - Laszlo Gardony
4. Van Gogh By Numbers - Joe Locke/Geoffery Keezer Group
5. Stablemates - Eric Reed
6. Devil's Staircase - Tunnels
7. Vulcano Boro - Actis Band
8. Dat Dere - Eldar
9. Muhammad Ali - Barrett Martin
10. She Loves Me - Francesco Cafiso Quartet
11. Light Rolls Away the Darkness - Paul Shapiro

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Song of the Day - July 25, 2006

Matmos released their latest album, The Rose has Teeth in the Mouth of a Beast, a few months back and I have been slowly absorbing the genius of their efforts. This concept album is composed of a collection of songs inspired by people that Matmos admires. It is a brutally unique album that will probably turn many away. The opening track "Roses and Teeth for Ludwig Wittgenstein" is one of the best introductions to the strange world of Matmos. Wittgenstein was an Austrian philosopher, who lived primarily in the 20th century and the song consists of a portion of his text repeated over and over. This disparate collage of sounds includes cows eating roses covered with manure to warblings by Bjork. Click here to listen.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Back from Vacation Playlist

I just returned from a week in Scottsdale, AZ, so I apologize for a lack of new playlists. The hot weather (a 118 degrees) was practically crippling, but it was good to get away. Below are a few of the tunes that I missed during my absence. Click here to listen.

1. Independent Women - Conner
2. Just Wanna Love You Girl - Epsilons
3. Baby Blue - American Princes
4. I Found That Essence Rare - Gang Of Four
5. Last of the World's Gentlemen - The Beautiful Mothers
6. Cooler Heads - Local H
7. Good, Not Great - Mission of Burma
8. Left Right - Death of Fashion
9. Broccoli Man - Shonen Knife
10. Wait Until I Get My Hands On You - The Paper Chase
11. The Job'S A Game - Apollo Up!
12. Kissing Families - Silversun Pickups
13. Marfa Lights - Dirty On Purpose
14. Point of Pride - The Unsacred Hearts
15. The Hanging Heart - Howlin Rain
16. Witchcraft - Wolfmother
17. I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man - Muddy Waters

Song of the Day - July 24, 2006

Earlier this year Grizzly Bear released Sorry for the Delay, a collection of songs that were recorded prior to their debut album Horn of Plenty. It is ironic that these songs did not make the cut, as I find them utterly fascinating psychedelic sonic tomes. The whole album evokes a floating world of ethereal vibrations. This is contemplative music that would further be enhanced by your favorite beverage, as you drift off in your thoughts. For a glimpse into the world of Grizzly Bear, check out the track "A Leader Always Carries A Stick." Ed Droste's subdued, languid vocals draw the listener into his world, while a distant drumbeat echoes in the background. It is a truly beautiful song. Click here to listen.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Song of the Day - July 21, 2006

The Fiery Furnaces' latest opus, Bitter Tea, finally appeared on Rhapsody. It is a challenging, but delightful album. Many of the tracks feature vocals run backward through a tape machine, perhaps this is why guitarist and vocalist Matt Friedberger referred to the album as "sissy psychedelic satanism." An acquired taste, which many have already acquired judging by the popularity of their previous albums, I found that I have grown to like the album more and more with each repeated listen. I often tire of albums with time, but it is The Fiery Furnaces' unique, lush one moment, naively simple the next, sound that intrigues me. In that regard, check out "I'm in No Mood," with its toy-like piano, interspersed with synthesizers, and Brechtian atmospherics. Click here to listen.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Song of the Day - July 20, 2006

Jim Morrison has been resurrected in Death of Fashion, at least vocally. Lead singer Jesse A. Davis sounds remarkably similar to Jim Morrison. The quartet originally from Indiana, now hails from New York. On their latest release, Hello Movement, the band pays homage to their musical elders: Velvet Underground, Joy Division, and The Doors. This is a great album, full of excellent music such as "The Sailor Song," "Left Right," and "Jenny Says." However, it is the spirit of The Doors invoked in "Urgency in Harlem" that wins song of the day honors. Click here to listen.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Song of the Day - June 19, 2006

Minmae has released another artful album in Le Grand Essor De La Maison Du Monstre, which translates as The Great Flight of the Monster Haus. Their latest incarnation combines elements of freak folk with touches of Sonic Youth. One of the more quiet and introspective tunes on the album is "Once Cocked Gun." The solo acoustic guitar is augmented by the lonesome vocals of Sean Brooks, before the rest of the band joins in briefly. The sparse arrangement only further strengthens the appeal of the song, which would be lost with a lush instrumentation; sometimes simple is best. Click here to listen.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Song of the Day - July 18, 2006

One must listen to The Paper Chase in small doses, as large doses may be fatal. There music is threatening, disturbing, nightmare inducing sonic blasts. Their latest opus, Now You Are One of Us, will put ice in your veins. Their art rock style reminds me of The Dresden Dolls, but much more troubled. The contenders for favorite track included: "The Kids Will Grow Up to Be Assholes," "We Know Where You Sleep," and "Wait Until I Get My Hands on You." And the winner is .... "We Know Where You Sleep." The eerie repetitive piano chords of the intro lead to John Congleton's disturbing vocals and a very addictive chorus. The whole song is accented with shards of dissonance, which only contribute to its dark appeal. Click here to listen.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Song of the Day - July 17, 2006

I was drawn to Gregor Samsa by the reference to Kafka's Metamorphosis. The band creates sonic landscapes with brief vocal touches in the spirit of Sigur Ros, M83, and Labradford. Their music is made up of long slowly repeating phrases, accented by pauses, and distant vocals. The music generally is of a relaxing nature, but very intriguing, a perfect way to unwind after a long day. "Even Numbers" is an excellent example of Gregor Samsa utilization of languid musical phrasing, slowly building tensions, and lush sonic vistas. Click here to listen.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Song of the Day - July 14, 2006

Baby Dayliner is a guilty pleasure, as his music is a melange of musical styles from 70's era disco, 80's synth pop, to post-punk influences. Baby Dayliner, aka Ethan Marunas, believe it or not is an actual graduate of the high school upon which Fame was based. His talent shows through on his latest album Critics Pass Away, which kept my head spinning with the various influences such as: Human League, New Order, ABC, Gary Numan, and OMD. I really enjoyed "At Least" which reminded me quite a bit of Human League. The song is catchy enough that it could become a hit, well, at least in the 80's. Click here to listen.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Song of the Day - July 13, 2006

The latest album, Hallelujah Sirens, from Dirty on Purpose appeared on Rhapsody about two weeks ago. The album literally explodes with the joyous sounds of "No Radio." I love the horns, but I especially love the upbeat yet laidback vocals. Though "No Radio" gets my vote for song of the day, other tracks are worth a listen including: the shimmering "Your Summer Dress," the darker "Marfa Lights," and the hazy mellowness of "Lake Effect." Click here to listen.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Song of the Day - July 12, 2006

Brightback Morning Light's self-titled debut will appeal to the freak folk and hippie music fans, which seem to be increasing everyday. See the recent article Summer of Love Redux in the NY Times. I suppose it is a sign of the times: make love not war. Regardless of your political leanings, Brightback Morning Light makes beautifully languid music. The slow rhythms of their music seem completely natural as you just go with the flow and enjoy the scene. Modern day hippies, Nathan Shineywater and Rachael Hughes, have spent the last couple of years living in tents, composing songs, and making a name for themselves. They also keep good company having performed with The Espers, Vetiver, Joanna Newsom, and Devendra Banhart. "Friend of Time" is my favorite tune and a perfect introduction to the world of Brightback Morning Light. Tune in, tune out, and drop out with Brightback Morning Light. Click here to listen.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Song of the Day - July 11, 2006

I miss the whole rawness and energy of the riot grrrl movement. However, there are still a few bands out there that uphold the tradition. Partyline is fronted by Allison Wolfe, formerly of Bratmobile, and the energy is still there. Last year they released their debut EP Girls with Glasses. The best track is the first, "Unsafe at Any Speed," a great tune that is rough, raw, full of attitude, and most importantly fun. Click here to listen.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Song of the Day - July 10, 2006

I just finished listening to The Unsacred Hearts debut full-length album, In Defense of Fort Useless. Wow! This is one hell of an album. Their music is an excellent blend of influences from Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground, The Rolling Stones, Dylan, and Richard Hell. It is this disparate blending of styles that complicate the choice of song of the day. Do I pick the country-twang, Rolling Stone influenced "Roots & Herbs," "1000 Hot Babes," a song reminiscent of Dylan, "Teenage Palace Daydream," with its echoes of Lou Reed, or a hard rocker like "Point of Pride?" The choices are numerous, as every track is very appealing, but my vote goes to "The Two Three Four" a kinetic romp of a tune with dark underpinnings in its brief psychedelic intro and dissonant piano interlude. Click here to listen.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Song of the Day - July 7, 2006

The Epsilons are a force of nature. This teenage quartet hails from Laguna Beach, CA, the infamous O.C.. Taking literary inspiration from Alduous Huxley, the Epsilons are named after the lowest class of society in Huxley's Brave New World. However their music is not of the lowest class, but a high energy blend of punk, garage, and surf style music. Their debut effort, the self-titled Epsilons, is killer. Every song is at an elevated energy state. Great songs are abundant: "Snap Crackle Pop!," "Evil Robots," and "The Train" all standout. The rockabilly rhythms of "Fever to Kill" is my favorite track. The energy is relentless, the Epsilons' live shows must be awesome. I can only hope they will make it to Chicago. Click here to listen.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Song of the Day - July 6, 2006

When we talk of musical centers, we often talk of London, NY, Seattle, but we mustn't forget Nashville. The latest band emanating from Nashville is Apollo Up! The trio's sophomore effort Chariots of Fire is one hell of a rock album. One of the best tracks on the album is the opening cut "Walking the Plank." There are shades of Elvis Costello in their music, but I don't think Elvis rocked this hard. The whole album rocks with an intensity that I rarely see. This is one album worth checking out! Click here to listen.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Song of the Day - July 5, 2006

I love the eerie, sinister sound of Shalabi Effect's "Bright Guilty World." From their Pink Abyss album, which to fans of Shalabi Effect is known as the "pop album" due to its relatively accessible tracks as compared to the rest of their oeuvre. "Bright Guilty World" has a jazz feel to it, thanks to the seductive vocals of Elizabeth Anka Vajagic. The slow beats, the beautiful vocals, and the brushed drums are juxtaposed and interspersed with threatening shrieks of guitar and low ominous sounds which I find absolutely addictive, almost a forbidden pleasure. Click here to listen.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Song of the Day - July 4, 2006

Happy Fourth of July! As it is that great American holiday, I thought I would feature a song from the New Americana genre. Howlin' Rain is a trio featuring Comets On Fire singer/guitarist Ethan Miller, Sun Burned Hand Of The Man drummer John Moloney, and Ian Gradek on bass. Howlin' Rain's music is raw like moonshine, and also likely to induce hallucinations. Imagine country-laced music as played by Blue Cheer and sung by Rod Stewart and you may have a slight idea as to how Howlin' Rain sounds. "Calling Lighting with a Scythe" starts out innocently enough with a banjo and guitar lulling you into an easygoing mood, only to hit you with lightening as the guitar erupts in a mountain of feedback. It is so unexpected, it will literally knock you off your feet. Click here to listen.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Song of the Day - July 3, 2006

Vetiver is a type of grass that essential oils are extracted from for aromatherapy. It also goes by the alias Oil of Tranquility. Vetiver, the San Francisco based band, produces music of a tranquil nature, though they do have rare transgressions of a more agitated state. Their latest opus To Find Me Gone spends the majority of its time floating in the Sea of Tranquility. However, the track "Lost & Found" straddles the line between outright calmness and agitation. Their psych-folk tendencies are in full evidence as the song begins with soothing acoustic guitar and Andy Cabic's vocals, before launching into a galloping beat augmented with a wailing electric guitar. Click here to listen.

Note, Rhapsody has since removed "Lost & Found." As a result I have substituted the fine track "You May Be Blue" for song of the day honors. Click here to listen.

June 2006 - Songs of the Day

I always love the start of a new month, as it gives me time to pause and review the music I selected for the previous month. In my constant search for new music, I sometimes forget what I recently discovered. This past June produced many riches, though not all albums were released last month. Mission of Burma, Asobi Seksu, The Beatings, Sonic Youth, and Chicken Legs Weaver amongst all the rest produced great tunes for a summer of fun. Click here to listen.

1. Field on Water - Bird Show
2. Donna Sumeria - Mission of Burma
3. One Zero Zero - Lori
4. Amazing Grace - Demolition Doll Rods
5. Dark Rainbow - Young People
6. Nefi + Girly - Asobi Seksu
7. This City is Killing Me - The Beatings
8. The Day On You - Tom Verlaine
9. Sleepin' Around - Sonic Youth
10. City Noise - Scarling
11. Your Enemy Cannot Harm You - Chicken Legs Weaver
12. Old Glory - The Society Of Rockets
13. Nu Tones - Nomo
14. Heavier Than Lead - The Aggrolites
15. Between What He's Saying And What He Regrets - Amandine
16. This is the Year - American Princes
17. I Shall Skip Your Judgement - Le Volume Courbe
18. Love Dies Here - Flying
19. Velcro Girl - Sugarplum Fairies
20. Serious Chords - Think About Life
21. Something Wrong - The Everyothers
22. Spider Eyes - Dirty on Purpose

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