This new Wooden Wand record, James And The Quiet, is pretty good. Alex says it's great when you're drunk, which seems really likely. There's this country vibe at work- According to the MySpace, Wooden Wand lives in Tennessee now, and I had been under the impression that he used to live in Brooklyn. There's this summertime humidity, sweet tea on the porch feeling.
It's not my favorite Wooden Wand record- There's this CD-R from a tour last Spring that's all demos and covers that's sparse in all the right ways. It's got songs on it from his tour partner, Hush Arbors, including one where high notes are hit and sustained in a way that's unnerving and seems really loud, and that unlistenability works really well with the rest of it, and its cold lonely nights. The Flood, recorded with The Vanishing Voice, is really good as well- That's like a jammy concept record. When I say jammy, that brings awful music to mind. It's not jam band music- There's none of those bass tones that people only do the worst dancing to. There's limited chords and a lot of call and response, and it goes on for a while, but the noise apocalypse is summoned with acoustic instruments.
This is more straightforward. It's twelve songs. There's harmonies, which I had heard on Wooden Wand demos at the house of a guy who worked at 5RC who would've lost his job had said demos ever been released. They were amazing there, but I feel like I maybe imagined them, sitting in the dark around a campfire after a backyard barbecue. This record would work well in that context, which is a really good memory. People from Sonic Youth play on it, and it remains a country record. I don't like Neil Young, but it works for me the way some of those records work for other people, but there's a deeper voice and no unpleasant connotations.
The title track is by far the high point. That's what's playing right now. It's hard to point to a high point on a record like this, where there aren't really singles, and there's limited variations to what's overall a mood piece. It's the next to last song on the album, where the energy picks up a little, but the arrangement remains stripped down, with no drums. The phrase sung in refrain is "the shame, shame, shame of love; James and the quiet and the stars up above." Sometimes "stars up" is replaced with "angels." That sums up how it all works. To continue to work it out: Wooden Wand's real name is James Toth, and the song hits direct.