I remain partial to James Jackson Toth’s early lo-fi days as Wooden Wand, especially the rusted-out Roky Erickson sounds on 2005′s Harem Of The Sundrum & The Witness Figg. He showed an ability to up the production value and maintain some gritty rambles on the Sky High Band-backed Second Attention, but it’s that older collection (and improv offerings with the Vanishing Voice) I return to most. Today we have a video from James’s newest album, Waiting In Vain.

Toth’s been quoted as looking at 2007′s James And The Quiet as his attempt to “un-weird” an album — tightening the psychedelics, putting straight-up song structures to the fore. He’s definitely followed a similar aesthetic path on the Steve Fisk-produced Waiting In Vain, an album billed as “solo,” and that includes guest spots from Deerhoof’s John Dietrich, Nels Cline, Andy Cabic, Otto Hauser, Carla Bozulich (Geraldine Fibbers), Shayde Sartin, etc. The video for “Doreen” finds Toth with another guest, his wive and Vanishing Voice-mate Jex Thoth (who recently released a self-titled doom collection on I Hate Records) hanging and singing in bed, by the shore, at the carnival, in front of an old house. James is also loading a gun, though it’s unclear what he’s shooting … though there is a theater marquee that reads “Help Me.”

Label affiliations don’t always tell a story, but watching Toth move between Polyamory, the noise-centric label he ran with Dead Machines’ Tovah Olson, to Gold Soundz, Time Lag, Skull Of Heaven, Soft Abuse, Kill Rock Stars, Ecstatic Peace, and etc. to Ryko, shows a smoothing-out of his sounds. He’s always going back and forth, and there are labels I skipped, so it’s unclear where the man goes next. Still, it points to the scope of his project.

Here’s “Doreen” without pictures:

Waiting In Vain is out 7/29 on Rykodisc. You can listen deeper here, and pre-order the album in CD and LP format via Insound. And if you preorder you’ll get the album as a download immediately, so you won’t be, right, waiting in vain.

Comments (5)
  1. Anon  |   Posted on Jun 30th, 2008 0

    Please stop acting as if you’ve ever heard a lick of Wooden Wand before Toth’s latest.

  2. Logan  |   Posted on Jul 1st, 2008 0

    im surprised no one points out that this is yet another Alumni of SUNY Purchase to get recognition. Dan Deacon, Regina Spektor, Langhorne Slim, James Toth (as “The Blood Group”), The Moldy Peaches (didnt take classes there but always seems around). im sure im missing more too. Something in the water?

  3. Mute  |   Posted on Jul 4th, 2008 0

    It’s hard to pigeonhole Jame’s and Jessica’s style. They have so many side projects under anonymous names that it’s a challenge for diehard fans to keep up. This gives them an outlet to experiment with all the different types of music they like to make without seeming like they are screwing over certain fans of the other monikers. examples Claudio,Totem… so on. Even if you don’t like those side projects I think it makes them better all around musicians. I’ve even heard some demos of disco music they did.(LOL). But if I had to choose the one style they excel at it’s the straight forward, singer-songwriter, beautiful voice and guitar music. They’ve released a few of the greatest albums this century, those include Harem,James and the Quiet, and Second Attention. I know many diehard fans had nothing but bad things to say about Waiting in Vain on other sites. I’ve heard Waiting in Vain and agree it’s not perfect (but there are some gems,Nothing Hides,The Dome,The Park) and all it is, is just one more different direction that they have decided to try. Nothing permanent, so don’t feel like their trying to sell out and be something that they haven’t been all along. For anybody who has doubts about the future of their music, don’t. I’ve heard so much unreleased material from them thats equal to if not better than the stuff on those great albums I mentioned. I know I’m ranting here but I think the Toth’s(together) are two of best songwriters currently making music. I would even put them alongside Will Oldham, Jason Molina and Eric Bachmann.

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