Wooden Wand & the World War IV
James Jackson Toth is a musical force to be reckoned with, and you're either watching the tides that herald new offerings or you're left wondering what all the fuss is about. RSTB has for a long time been watching those tides ebb and flow, pulled by the moon, mortality, desperation and drink and eventually hewn into rough toothed instruments of creation and destruction that refuse to be hemmed in by genre or expectation. On his third album with the group of musicians who jumped aboard the Homewood Studio sessions that wrought Briarwood, Toth begins by shaving away some of the good vibes and large sound that swaddled the last two records. He and the band, now dubbed The World War IV, cut two distinct sides, and the first is rubbed raw, bone stark and delivered with more than a little dirt in the teeth. But as with most Wand sides, even when there's that burn of angst, there's a softness, and a country troubadour that begins to pop through after the biting two first cuts. Even the rusted cuts of guitar smooth when the backing vocals of Janet Elizabeth Simpson float into earshot. The second side takes the vitriol of the first and dissipates in a haze of state fog and cigarette smoke. Laying back into the psych blues shamble down pace that Toth knows well and then pairing it with some of his most emphatic and tangled guitar work yet. These are the kinds of tracks that shake down an encore and evolve into sixteen-minute exorcisms of faith and fry and fuzz. The two humors of the album, yellow bile in a tug-o-war with the phlegmatic drive, seem to set it somehow in perfect balance. It fights and rests and finds it’s footing in a place that feels at peace by the end.
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