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

Friday, December 29, 2006

Song of the Day - December 29, 2006

The Plants debut release The Mind Is a Bird in the Hand is an epic freak-folk recording, and should not be missed by fans of the genre. Based out of Portland, the band consists of Josh Blanchard and Molly Griffith, who were recently married. The album title left me puzzled, however Josh Blanchard had explained in a previous interview,"It comes from a movie, Dementia 13, where a woman is freaking out and her analyst tells her to picture her mind as a small bird in her hand—when the hand is calm, so is the bird, and thus the mind. It really struck me as a good visualization technique, but then it took on more meaning." Molly is a cellist/pianist with a love for medieval music and has played with the likes of The Decemberists and 31 Knots. "Acorn Child" has a mystical air to it with sitar, cello, and acoustic guitar. Josh reminded me of very early Jethro Tull, but with a much more sinister twist. Click here to listen.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Song of the Day - December 28, 2006

As the year progressed, great psyche-folk recordings became increasingly abundant. Andrew Rothbard makes his contribution with his first solo effort Abandoned Meander, and it is quite a sonic delight. This is the first of a five part series of albums based on the Discordian law of fives: Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis, Parenthesis, and Paralysis. This album's theme is thesis. Andrew is already working on the second album entitled Rainbeam Sunbow. According to Andrew Rothbard, ""[Thesis] manifests chaos protected by Goddess Eris, codified by hexagram 2 of the I Ching and directed entirely toward Yin. She lives on the planet Venus, and her Tarot card appears as the High Priestess Trump II." I suppose that statement will give you a hint at the psychedelic nature of the tracks in store for the listener. If you didn't know, Discordianism is a religion based on chaos. I suggest the title track "Abandoned Meander" as a perfect introduction to Rothbard's Discordian world. Click here to listen.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Song of the Day - December 27, 2006

Scott Walker's album The Drift has been popping up with increasing regularity on end of the year best of lists. In fact, he was under serious consideration for my list. The reason being the truly disturbing nature of his record. It is dark, menancing, intense music that definitely falls into the acquired taste category. Scott Walker started out as a pop icon in the sixties and has now transitioned or should I say drifted towards something quite opposite. The album is brilliant, but best taken in small dose in order to avoid nightmares. It has been eleven years since his last album, but the wait was worth it. I highly recommend "Jolson And Jones," as I find it one of the most fearful, disturbing tracks with the combination of Walker's vocals, a distressed donkey, and violin combining into a work of pure terror. Click here to listen.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Best of Jazz 2006 - A Baker's Dozen

As last years list, I agonized over who would make it and who would not, hence the inclusion of 13 albums. The saxophone looms large over this year list and also the labels Sunnyside and Cryptogramophone made strong showings. As per last year, the list was limited to those recordings available on Rhapsody. The amount of phenomenal recordings available this year was truly staggering and I could not make any real attempt to list them in any particular order. Here is my Best of Jazz 2006, please enjoy.

Vijay Iyer and Rudresh Mahanthappa - Raw Materials Vijay Iyer is a perennial favorite in best of the year lists and this year is no exception. His pairing with long time collaborator Rudresh Mahanthappa on alto sax in a duo setting is intelligent, challenging music reflecting their heritage, with a strong modal bent. The lack of bass and drums is never felt, rather there is a musical richness evident that borders on the overindulgent for the sonic gourmet.

Misja Fitzgerald Michel - Encounter This is definitely one of the best jazz guitar records of the year, by a guitarist I was totally unaware of. Misja Fitzgerald Michel is a French master of the guitar and this album is spectacular. The album is a mixture of original compositions and original takes on compositors from the likes of Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, and Bill Stewart. The musicians in his band are top notch, including: Ravi Coltrane, Drew Gress, and Jochen Rueckert. Playing both electric and acoustic guitars Misja plays music in a variety of styles that never ceases to please.

Sai Ghose - New Blood I can listen to this record over and over and never lose interest. Sai Ghose is a wonderful pianist and this album grooves. I detect a touch of Vince Guaraldi in Sai's pianism, which is something I just love. Sai is given considerable assistance from guitarist Mark Jodice. This is mainstream jazz that is impeccably tremendous listening. Music does not always have to be extreme to be intelligent, thoughtful, works of art. This a collection of musicians that know what they are doing and do it to perfection.

Metta Quintet - Subway Songs A beautiful theme album inspired by the subways of New York and performed exquisitely by the Metta Quintet. In addition to being a great record, 100% of the proceeds of this album go to a good cause, the JazzReach foundation. The JazzReach foundation is a not-for-profit organization committed to fostering a greater awareness, appreciation and understanding of jazz, especially among the young. The album intertwines actual subway sounds with excellent musicianship resulting in a fascinating listen.

Charles Gayle - Time Zones This is a mindblowing album. First because Charles Gayle is known primarily as a saxophone player, yet he has released one of the best solo piano albums of the year. Second, his command of the instrument is exceptional and his incorporation of various piano styles is quite refreshing. There are musical references to the likes of Bud Powell, Art Tatum, Cecil Taylor, and Oscar Peterson all combined into one delicious collection of pianism. If you love piano, do not miss this record.

Roy Nathanson - Sotto Voce This has to be the most fun album on the list. It is the work of Roy Nathanson, a man known for his eclectic history of working with the likes of Elvis Costello to co-founding the Jazz Passengers. Here he has outdone himself with the creation of a jazz record that primarily features the spoken word, with occasional actual singing, and believe it or not the "human beatbox" Napoleon Maddox substituting for a drummer. You must check out his version of "Sunny." This album absolutely has to be heard to be believed.

Rashied Ali Quintet - Judgment Day Vol. 1 Rashied Ali is not heard from much these days, having risen to fame with Coltrane on his last albums. However, he deserves to be heard more and this album is proof. Lately, he has been functioning in an Art Blakey mode, nurturing young talent. On this record, you can hear the fruit of his labors and it just cooks. Actually, this is volume 1 of a two volume set. I haven't had the opportunity to hear volume 2, as it is not on Rhapsody, but I am sure it is a winner. The varied tone colors he coaxes from his drum set and the rapport with his band make this an outstanding adventure in post-bop musicianship.

Armen Donelian and Marc Mommaas - All or Nothing at All Saxophone and piano duos seem to be all the rage this year, witness the Vijay Iyer and Rudresh Mahanthappa recording. Armen Donelian and Marc Mommaas, piano and saxophone respectively, have created just as satisfying an album with what I would call a New York sound, as opposed to the exotic melodies of Iyer and Mahanthappa. All or Nothing at All is a live concert from 2003 in New York City. Armen Donelian has a lyrical quality to his playing touched with a smattering of the avant garde. He was initially trained in classical music, but jazz soon became an overwhelming passion. Armen is also a Fulbright scholar. Marc Mommass plays his horn with passion, edge, and modernistic tendencies. The overall combination of the two musicians results in an introspective collection of tunes that lets the listener peer into the soul of these musicians.

Francois Carrier - Open Spaces This is an exercise in saxophone aesthetics featuring both alto and tenor saxophones from Francois Carrier and Dewey Redman respectively. There is a lot of free playing on this record and it is of the highest caliber. It never turns me off, like some free playing can. It is the interplay between Carrier and Redman that is truly fascinating. Redman, who passed away last year, was a veteran of Ornette Coleman's band and knew a thing a two about free improvisation. The supporting musicians provide the sonic undercurrents to let both Carrier and Redman shine. The first track "Going Through" is a 21 minute monster of free jams that immediately caught my attention for best of the year. If you are looking for something a little more challenging this is the disc for you.

Kenny Garrett - Beyond the Wall This has to be the superstar jazz record of the year. The talent on this record is unbelievable: Pharoah Sanders, Bobby Hutcherson, Mulgrew Miller, Brian Blades, and of course Kenny Garrett. The album was inspired by a trip that Garret had taken to China. This album has a Coltrane sound and a definite spiritual feeling, perhaps it is the use of wordless vocals on some tracks. The Coltrane sound is no accident, as Garrett dedicated the album to McCoy Tyner and Mulgrew Miller is up to the task interpreting these modal tunes. This is a record that people will be listening to decades from now.

Charles Lloyd - Sangam This is a wonderful album that combines world music and jazz into a symbiotic whole. Charles Lloyd is paired with Zakir Hussain on tabla and Eric Harland on drums for a recording that was done live in 2004. This is a masterpiece of an album. Percussion fans will be overwhelmed with delight by Zakir and Eric, yet Charles Lloyd still is the star evoking a wide range of emotions, colors, and superlative muscianship on both saxophone and flute. If you have a taste for the exotic, please sample Sangam.

Bennie Maupin Ensemble - Penumbra Penumbra is an apt name for Bennie Maupin's latest release, as he as often lived in the shadow of others such as Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock. Maupin's main instrument is the bass clarinet, which he plays in an earthy, lyrical style using the spaces between the notes as eloquently as the notes themselves. In addition to his clarinet, he also plays tenor and soprano saxophones, alto flute, and piano. Bassist Darek Oleszkiewicz does an outstanding job accompanying Maupin. The whole album is an atmospheric journey that just leaves me in awe. There is even a song about Eric Dolphy, that other great bass clarinetist. Of course, Bennie could not forget the saxophonists, as there is also a swinging song about Lester Young. A few critics have referred to his music as chamber music, which fits with its intimate character and soulful sound of the bass clarinet.

Nels Cline - New Monastery Here's an album that was on practically everyone's best of the year lists. Nels Cline, that fabulous guitarist who leads both a jazz and rock life, has dedicated an album to the eclectic pianist Andrew Hill. In a moment of inspiration or maybe just pragmatism, Nels Cline decides to eliminate the piano from the album entirely, resulting in a truly unique take on Hill's music without being a clone. In addition to eliminating the piano, Nels Cline added the accordion which contributes greatly to the atmospheric nature of the pieces. Many of the works are performed as suites, which evolve from one song to the next with an ease that I know took a lot of effort. This is another album that will reward the musical adventurous.

Song of the Day - December 26, 2006

OK, it is no longer Christmas and my musical selection is not quite as gentle as yesterday's tune. You may not be ready for this if it is early in the morning, or evening for that matter. The Young Widows are in your face rock and roll. They are loud, rude, and great! Their influences range from bands like Shellac, Nirvana, Jesus Lizard, and Gang of Four. You are either going to love this or hate it. Yes, I love it. The distortion is beautiful to my ear and the beats are punishing, truly invigorating music. This Louisville based band pulls no punches on Settle Down City, a post grunge masterpiece. It may not be entirely the style these days, but it is one heck of a record. I suggest a small dose of the Young Widows to determine your level of tolerance, and the best song is the title tune, "Settle Down City." Click here to listen.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Song of the Day - December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas! I thought I would welcome Christmas with the gentle neo-folk sounds of the Nethers. Formed from the ashes of The Carlsonics, this Washington DC based quintet has released their debut album In Fields We Will Lie, a sublime collection of gentle but great tunes. Nikki West's vocals have a soothing demeanor that I find quite appropriate for this particular day. By the way, she is also the bassist for the group. As I listened to this album, one track in particular stood out, "Migratory Birds." The track starts out simply with Nikki and some strummed chords, an arpeggio is added, and the drums gently enter. The song slowly builds in intensity, but never simmers over. It is a gem of a song. Click here to listen.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Song of the Day - December 22, 2006

Califone's latest Roots and Crowns is a journey through Americana as seen through the eyes of Tim Rutili and company. Califone has created a lush sound by incorporating a variety of instruments, yet it is not always entirely pure Americana. The band twists and turns with melodies and sounds until it becomes a distorted version of Americana. A case in point is "Spider House," which incorporates a modified piano that had duct tape and paper clips layered upon its strings. There are also fragments of world music apparent in their music, such as "Chinese Actor." However, it is the track "Pink & Sour" that has won me over. It has an exotic percussive sound, augmented by Frippian style guitar licks, quite a tasty treat for the holidays. Click here to listen.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Song of the Day - December 21, 2006

A pair of psychologists by day, disco/rock/electro-pop stars by night, the French duo of Jean-Phillipe Freu and Patrice Carrie have released their self-titled album Rinocerose, which near as I can tell is a collection of previous hits. An amalgamation of styles is evident in this release; there is a strong 70's and 80's influence ranging from Prince, Smashing Pumpkins, Soft Cell, and Chic that when mixed with the proper amount of alcohol will get the party on the dance floor. You may have been familiar with the track "Cubicle," which was featured on an iPod commercial, but there are other tracks which are worth a listen like the aggressive "Get Ready Now" or the 70's drenched funk of "Le Mobilier." Favorite track honors go to "Bitch" which has an AC/DC edge mixed in the appropriate ratio with a Prince-like funk for an delightful musical cocktail. Click here to listen

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Song of the Day - December 20, 2006

First off, things are not always what they seem; Fujiya & Miyagi are not Japanese. They are not even a duo, rather they a trio of lads from Brighton, England, who have taken their moniker from Pat Morita's character in The Karate Kid and the name of a record player. They play a funky, sometimes minimalist style of techno, reminding me of German bands like DAF intermixed with vintage Talking Heads. Their latest release Transparent Things, takes its tiles from a book by the legendary author Vladimir Nabokov. The album on a whole is quite addictive, I am particularly enamored of the track "Collarbone." However, it is the opening track "Ankle Injuries," with its repeated chorus of "Fujiya Miyagi" that has me locked in a sonic prison of no escape, a pleasant incarceration none the less. Click here to listen.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Covalent Bond's Best "Indie Albums" of 2006

Yes, it is that time of year, the time of lists. I agonized over this list, and tried very hard not to pick the obvious choices. I struggled for a variety of sounds, styles, and moods. As last year, the list is in no particular order, just an eclectic collection of my top 10 albums of 2006.

Darker My Love - Darker My Love

Coach Fingers -No Flies On Frank

Awesome Snakes - Venom

Dan Sartain - Join Dan Sartain

The USA Is a Monster - Sunset at the End of the Industrial Age

Nightingales - Out of True

Wooden Wand and the Sky High Band - Second Attention

Sunset Rubdown - Shut Up I Am Dreaming

Frida Hyvonen - Until Death Comes

Shearwater - Palo Santo

Song of the Day - December 19, 2006

When I think of Philadelphia, I normally think of Ben Franklin, the Liberty Bell, and Rocky. Well, things have changed, and now I think of The Teeth, that fabulous quartet whose delicious harmonies prompt memories of The Kinks and Beatles. You could not ask for better harmonies than from twin brothers Aaron and Peter McDavis. I haven't heard songs like this in quite some time, and I find their EP Carry the Wood positively invigorating. For a bracing dose of The Teeth, I heartily urge you to succumb to the magnificent harmonies of "Oh, Bessie!". Click here to listen.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Song of the Day - December 18, 2006

A psychedelic Christmas present is bestowed upon us from Guy Blakeslee and his band Entrance with the album Prayer of Death. This is truly awesome, freaky music influenced by the likes of Hendrix, Zeppelin, Syd Barrett, Ali Farka Toure, and Nirvana. The album was inspired by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Timothy Leary, and delta blues legend Charley Patton. This is a marriage of country blues, psychedelic expressions, and world music influences that is a true treat for the musical adventurer. I even love the album cover, which appears to be a slight reference to Hendrix's Axis: Bold as Love. Check out tracks like "Silence of a Crowded Train" with its interesting violin accompaniment, Robert Plant-like vocals, and lots of wah wah on the guitar or the strong world music influences of "Valium Blues." However, my favorite tune is "Grim Reaper Blues." I love the feedback rich intro that slides into a country blues psychedelic riff and I feel as if I am transported to some late night voodoo ritual. Click here to listen.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Song of the Day - December 15, 2006

At first hearing The Hot Toddies, I was immediately drawn by the sugary vocals of this all girl band from Oakland, California. However first appearances can be deceiving, as a close listen to the lyrics will reveal that these girls are not so innocent. I love the juxtaposition of their sweet harmonies with lyrics that are in complete opposition. Their self-titled EP is chockfull of examples of innocence and naughtiness. My favorite tune is "Jaguar Love," a song that borrows heavily from AC/DC, while adding the beautiful harmonies of The Hot Toddies into a doo wop laced song of intriguing contradictions. Click
here to listen.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Song of the Day - December 14, 2006

I don't understand a word of Spanish, but Manta Ray has me hooked. A post-punk delight that crosses the sounds of Slint and Don Caballero with elements of krautrock, Manta Ray has avoided my musical radar until just recently. In existence since 1992, this Spanish quartet will no longer remain unwatched. Their latest album Torres De Electricdad is on the noted Spanish label Acuarela. If listeners will give this album a chance, they will be won over despite the language obstacles. This is music of the highest quality and would be storming up the indie charts if it were in English. Music, however, transcends language barriers, and Manta Ray confirms this old axiom. I love the combinations of songs: slow, fast, dark, high energy, and mysterious tracks result in an endlessly interesting album. For a taste of this Spanish delicacy try the track "No Tropieces," which rumbles with a strong bass line, angular guitar chops, and punctuating trumpet volleys. Click here to listen.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Song of the Day - December 13, 2006

Christina Carter is one half of the former husband and wife team known as The Charalambides, Though Christina and Tom are no longer married, they still perform together. A proponent of understated guitars and vocals, Christina's solo effort Electrice is a study in atmospherics and not pyrotechnics. One of my favorite track is a languid, possibly hallucination inducing track entitled "Moving Intercepted." Vocals and guitars are entwined and conjoined in such a manner that they virtually meld into a single entity. A perfect song to nod off into oblivion after a long night out on the town. Click here to listen.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Song of the Day - December 12, 2006

I like to think of the Dirty Faces as Captain Beefheart fronting The Stooges with occasional appearances by Aerosmith and Foghat. A legend in Pittsburgh, The Dirty Faces have released their fourth album Get Right with God and may soon become a legend across the whole country. This is damn good stuff! There are bluesy numbers like "Sister Redux", high energy rockers like "Somnambulist's Vacation," slow numbers "Watching the War From Above," and odes to Steeler's great "Rocky Bleier." You can taste the gritty, dirty side of Pittsburgh in their music. My favorite track is "Slow Train," an aptly named song that truly runs on a slower track than many of the other tunes. Captain Beefheart's influence is extremely evident and I love it. This is a modern blues drenched powerhouse of a song. Click here to listen.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Songs of the Day - December 11, 2006

Imagine Jim Morrison fronting Joy Division being transplanted to the moss covered swamps of the American South with a side trip to the Appalachians, and you will have a vague idea of Woven Hand's sound. Woven Hand is the solo project of David Eugene Edwards, frontman of 16 Horsepower; and his latest release Mosaic is a sublime work of dark American roots music. The album is full of eerie dark tunes that seem perfect for a winter storm, which just happens to be occurring as I write this post. One of the most ominous tunes is "Elktooth," which also is the name of the town where the CD was recorded. The organ intro and Edwards' vocals are a chilling combination that has a haunting beauty like a Rocky Mountain snowfall. Click here to listen.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Song of the Day - December 8, 2006

The Icarus Line have released their new EP Black Presents, which is a metamorphic change in their sound, to a lighter but still heavy sound that is extremely appealing, possibly even better than their earlier work. The first track "Black Presents" is probably the heaviest on the EP with definite shades of Killing Joke and Gang of Four. Every song on the EP is extremely addictive, an added benefit of EP's, short but intense dosages of a band's essence with no filler. The best track is the last track "Watch Your Step," a swaggering song of rumbling bass and drums punctuated by the coolest guitar solos full of dissonance and bite. Click here to listen.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Song of the Day - December 7, 2006

Former vocalist and cellist for Belle and Sebastian has released her second album this year with Milk White Sheets. It is a quiet introspective album where Isobel's voice barely rises above a whisper. In fact, it is this quality that makes the album intriguing, forcing you to listen closely to her words. The first track, "O Love Is Teasin" is a gentle song, but underneath it all I sense a certain level of tension that is appealing. In a more folk-like vein, I was immediately attracted to the traditional folk song "Are You Going to Leave Me" featuring her hushed voice and rumbling drums, which she transforms into a "psychedelic lullaby" and my song of the day. Click here to listen.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Song of the Day - December 6, 2006

Yvonne Cornelius, the German chanteuse behind Niobe has created an eclectic collection of song stylings in her latest release White Hats. The track "Drei Zinnen" incorporates 1940 vocal stylings with recorded sounds of a car trip. "Up Hill and Down Dale" comes straight from the 70's disco era, while "Give All to Love" has a decidedly more soulful feel to it and is my track of the day. A nostalgic sound surrounds Yvonne's vocals, while the beats are definitely modern, imparting an almost lost in time feeling to this unusual track. Click here to listen.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Song of the Day - December 5, 2006

Here's another musical adventure for those that yearn for an acquired taste of aural challenges. First start in Finland and journey across the sea to Glasgow and you will replicate Nalle, a Finnish band based in Scotland, that makes some of the most hauntingly beautiful music you will hear this year. Taking their name from the Finnish word for teddy bear, you will either love this record or wonder what the hell it is all about. I personally love it. Lead vocalist Hanna Tuulikki sounds like some unusual cocktail of Bjork, Joanna Newsom, and Josephine Foster. You may not be ready for this, unless you were raised on a musical diet of the aforementioned artists. Employing a wide variety of instrumentation ranging from bouzouki, viola, flutes, kantele, and clarinet, Nalle create a sonic environment that conjures up visions of the Arctic, North Africa, and the Far East. Their album By Chance Upon Walking is a sonic delight. One of my favorite tracks is "Forest Mountain." I love the interplay between the viola and Hanna's voice, while the rest of the band provides relaxing, but slightly eerie accompaniment. Click here to listen.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Song of the Day - December 4, 2006

Last month saw the release of Beast Moans by indie supergroup Swan Lake. The composition of Swan Lake is a magical mixture of Canadians including Destroyer/New Pornographer Dan Bejar, Frog Eyes' Carey Mercer, and Wolf Parade/Sunset Rubdown's Spencer Krug. This collaboration is no spur of the moment project, rather the various members of Swan Lake have known each other for years and worked on various projects together. Their friendship and artistic kinship resulted in a truly spectacular album. I cannot spend enough time listening to their sublime songs. "Petersburg, Liberty Theater, 1914," "Freedom," and "Widow's Walk" are just some of the songs that deserve repeated listening. My favorite track is "Are You Swimming In Her Pools?," a song that starts off with simple acoustic guitar accompaniment and builds to a burst of exuberance, while evoking a Bowie-like vibe. Click here to listen.

Friday, December 01, 2006

November 2006 - Songs of the Day

November was a month of contrasts. I started with the young, but exceedingly cool Tiny Masters of Today and finished with The Nightingales, a band that has been in existence for over twenty years. There was the calmness of BenoÎt Pioulard contrasted to the stoner rock of Mammatus. In between their was no lack of excellent tunes from the likes of the Envelopes, Suicidal Birds, Awesome Snakes, Frida Hyvonen, and many others in a wide variety of styles to satisfy the music lovers in all of us. Click here to listen.

1. Tooty Frooty Clarke's Dream Song - Tiny Masters Of Today
2. Atlantis To Interzone - Klaxons
3. Faster Than A Dead Horse - Viva Voce
4. Isabelle and Leonard - Envelopes
5. Today, Tuesday - Frida Hyvönen
6. We Go - The Good Good
7. Hello Jenn, I'm A Mess - Evangelicals
8. Wakachu the Walrus - Coach Fingers
9. Rich People - The Hospitals
10. Until the Sadness is Gone - David & the Citizens
11. Me Animal - The Suicidal Birds
12. Pride And Fight - Animal Collective
13. Triggering Back - BenoÎt Pioulard
14. All Of A Sudden - Appomattox
15. Lazy Susan - Oakley Hall
16. Remembering and Forgetting - Songs Of Green Pheasant
17. Cold Lips Taste Better - Black Time
18. Follow These Eyes - The Hidden Cameras
19. Dragon Of The Deep Part Two - Mammatus
20. I Want A Snake - Awesome Snakes
21. Open Window Blues - Simon Joyner
22. Born Again In Birmingham - Nightingales

Song of the Day - December 1, 2006

As the year progresses, I realize I am becoming a bigger and bigger fan of music labeled New Weird America, psych-folk, freak folk or whatever the nome de plume is of the genre today. The sound of Wooden Wand and the Sky High Band best epitomizes the sound that infatuates me these days. Their release, Second Attention, is an awesome accumulation of free-folk jewels. A collaborative effort with members of Skygreen Leopards, The Vanishing Voice, and Davenport, Wooden Wand evokes memories of Dylan and Neil Young. James Toth's vocals are very reminiscent of Dylan, especially on tracks like "Dead Sue." I love every track on this record, so picking a favorite is extremely difficult. Having said that, I nominate "Mother Midnight" as my favorite track; I love the moaning chorus, Toth's vocals, the electric guitar solos, and the overall vibe of the song. Click here to listen.

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