Wild Mercury Sound

Queens cock-up, Ryan Adams, Wooden Wand

John Mulvey

First off, thanks to Red 157 for spotting the stupid error in the Queens Of The Stone Age piece I posted here yesterday. It was of course Josh Homme and not Mark Lanegan who sang the original version of "I Wanna Make It Wit Chu" on "Desert Sessions 9&10" - something I would have got right if I'd bothered to check my original review of that album. Apologies.

Secondly, can I just recommend this? It's Ryan Adams performing an extended jam on "Goodnight Rose" from his forthcoming "Easy, Tiger" album. I'm far from an Adams diehard: in fact, I've found more that's irritating than admirable in his fickle, eccentric career. Nevertheless, this is great - eight and a half minutes of filigree riffing that had a few of us pondering for a minute whether it was a Grateful Dead song we hadn't heard before.

And finally, I've been meaning to write properly about Wooden Wand for weeks now. If you haven't come across him before, WW is a New York guy called James Toth who looks like a Lynyrd Skynyrd roadie and who has been pumping out some terrific underground rock albums for a few years now.

Toth first came on the radar fronting The Vanishing Voice, one of those occasionally deranged avant-folk/improv/psych collectives (like Sunburned Hand Of The Man and Vibracathedral Orchestra, who I blogged about the other day) whose records occasionally hit some kind of free genius.

Unpredictable, though, which is why it was a surprise when Toth sneaked out a solo album a year or so ago called "Harem Of The Sundrum And The Witness Figg", which had the same air as Skip Spence's "Oar". Last year's "Second Attention" really emphasised his class as a more orthodox singer-songwriter: a pretty classical set that restaged John & Beverley Martyn's "Stormbringer" for the cover, and had a strong whiff of Dylan at his most mystical about it.

The new one, "James And The Quiet", is the best yet, I think. It sounds nothing like Elvis Costello's "Imperial Bedroom", contrary to Toth's claims. But it isn't quite so easy to trace his antecedents here, either. Instead, songs like "Delia" and the title track have a sort of woody, timeless quality. It's a brilliant, subtle rethink of the folk/country-rock songwriting tradition, with just a residual hint of psychedelia. Lee Ranaldo produced it, and I can't recommend it enough.

Oh, and Toth also has a fierce garage jamming band called the Zodiacs who've got an album coming out on Holy Mountain, which reminds me of early, slovenly Comets On Fire. And as I mentioned a few weeks ago, there's a cool-sounding doom band he's involved with called Totem. Here's the Myspace link if you missed it last time. Enough!


Newsletter


Editor's Letter

Reviewed: Respect Yourself: Stax Records And The Soul Explosion by Robert Gordon


As Robert Gordon reminds us in Respect Yourself: Stax Records And The Soul Explosion, his terrific account of the rise and fall of the great Memphis soul imprint, the Stax story is more than a record-label history. “It is an American story,” Gordon writes,”...