Posts Tagged ‘Wooden Wand’

One Eleven Heavy

As I’ve certainly mentioned previously, One Eleven Heavy comes stacked with a considerable cache of talent – roping in members of Wooden Wand, Endless Boogie, Royal Trux, Desmadrados Soldados De Ventura, and Ryley Walker’s touring band. While the players personal geographies run the span on the Hubeadian Map, drawing in both Coasts and dipping into the UK with Nick Mitchell Maiato, the band shares a unmistakable thread of Cosmic Americana between them. That particular strain of jam-seeded classic rock seems to have sprung up from the ground again in thick ripples over the last few years, reaching full maturity in this year of our lord 2018 and One Eleven Heavy arrive baptized in its blood and spreading the gospel well.

Like the crews of their cosmic brethren (Howlin’ Rain, Garcia Peoples, Wet Tuna), they’re hitting full stride with heady jams that hearken back to the years occupying the comedown close of the Summer of Love, with the ideals of the psychedelic era already starting to fade in the rearview and the amphetamine sweat of ’72 just starting to coalesce. The band strips back the stigma of extended time stamps while they work their way through a set that feeds on Levon’s legacy and elevates Little Feat from the sidelines of drive time radio. They channel the Burritos in their unjustly ignored post-Parsons years, while scraping just a touch of Gene Clark’s breakdown brilliance from No Other.

The record tangles the subtle twang of those raised on a diet of jukebox country crooners with the salt scrub of Western air, laying songs back into a pocket that exists somewhere between chooglin’ and juggin’ depending on how deep you want to dive into your own psychedelic pockets. For a debut, the record feels remarkably lived in. Fresh out of the shrink it already assumes frays and stains that belie its vintage, as if it can’t help but come from the plant with ring wear and a hint of basement musk. The band taps the telepathy of players that have shared stages far longer than their brief tenure – a testament to the individuals assembled – and one can only assume that each of the album’s songs is given a new life on the stage. On record, though, it shines bright as Orange Sunshine, an instant classic that should hook the heads who walked the lot and open up a new era for those who only soaked in the sun through Dick’s picks and regret.

While the record’s up on Bandcamp as of last Friday, and you damn well should have bought it already, its highly likely the rest of you are hitting the three spin cap, leaving you ostensibly out of luck until the record hits Spotify this upcoming weekend. However, for the next week, before the record hits streaming proper, you can get the full view from Soundcloud below. Don’t say we never did anything for ya.




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Mixtape: We Bleed Love

Its been a few months since the last mixtape and seems about time for another genre dive. This time the recent reissues of Ivytree and Skygreen Leopards material had me nostalgic for some of the very records that started this site over a decade ago. At the time the unfortunate ‘freak folk’ term got thrown around a lot by, well mostly writers who just couldn’t think up a better term. The ensuing resurgence of psychedelic folk and free folk (see that’s better) delved into the CD-r and small press worlds to see several of the home taped community elevated to indies like Jagjaguwar and Drag City, while carving out new ground for Young God, Language of Stone, 5RC, Gnomonsong and Three Lobed. I’ve scooped up an overview of some of my favorite moments from this movement of the early aughts and a prefect primer to the oncoming summer months. Check out the tracklist and listen below.

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One Eleven Heavy – “Old Hope Chest”

Last week I mentioned the growing presence of a new crop of bands raised on soundboard rips and zine culture conversations regarding which night held the true elevation of a solo from rote to enlightened and this week I’m introducing the first taste of one of the best of what’s next. While over time the mere implication of a band leaning jam seemed to set higher-handed listeners hackles on full alert, now that niche is king and cultures upon sub-cultures have cropped up quicker than crabgrass in internet back-alleys there’s a growing demand for bands that process their love of Little Feat, NRBQ, Levon, Trux and the Dead without worrying about cultural cache. There’s a demand and 2018 is bursting to contain the response.

Let’s not go throwing around that itchy term ‘Supergroup’ here but, be fair, there’s an overabundance of talent coursing through the veins of One Eleven Heavy. Started as a gauntlet thrown by James Toth (Wooden Wand) to fellow traveller Nick Mitchell Maiato (Desmadrados Soldados De Ventura) “Old Hope Chest” was conceived to “rise above the mundane, descriptive, lifestyle narratives of contemporary singer-songwriting.” It was, they decided, “Something that connects to our shared rock tradition and celebrates our musical identity without the apology of irony.” The track swings on groove and taps into a collective consciousness of what was actually “classic” about rock, without being dictated by what was pressed, sold or spun through the static crackle of radio. This echoes the ’72-’74-era Grateful Dead as it was lived in the room, and not as it was felt from the runout.

Joining in this crack team of cosmic workmen is Hans Chew (Hiss Golden Messenger/Jack Rose/Endless Boogie), Ryan Jewell (Ryley Walker band/Psychedelic Horseshit), and Dan Brown (Royal Trux/’68 Comeback) and the LP opens up shop as the first release on Scott McDowell’s (WFMU/ 120 Minutes) new label Kith & Kin. So, yeah, like I said this one’s not treading lightly. Drop into “Old Hope Chest” below and get prepped and hydrated to receive Everything’s Better in September.



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RSTB Best of 2017

So this year is drawing to a close, or almost, we’re still a few weeks away from pushing the broken pieces of 2017 into the trash. There’s no real solace from a lot of the events that took place this year, but, independent of any current events, music has been kind to us all this year. These are the records that spent the most time on the turntable over here. Yeah, I know its kind of a lot, but there were far too many good ones that haven’t been getting the shouts they need elsewhere. Lets say this serves as both a best of and a most overlooked in one go. If you enjoy ’em, buy ’em if you can. Don’t do them the disservice of just bumping up the streaming numbers.

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Wooden Wand

Perhaps there has been no more steady hand guiding Raven Sings the Blues than the presence of James Toth’s Wooden Wand. Since the site began in 2006, there have been myriad releases from Toth and as I’ve changed, so has the music of Wooden Wand blossomed from noise experiments with The Vanishing Voice, to psych-folk’s crowning glory and on into a pure distillation of Americana that rings far from the hollow brand of weekend alt-country that so many Brooklyn pickers would adopt fecklessly over the years. No, Toth has always been independent music’s poet laureate, whether he’s got the onion skin to prove it or not, we all know its true.

On Clipper Ship, his first album in three years (a relative dearth in terms of Toth’s output), he crafts an album that puts the musical heft ahead of the lyrical focus. A groundswell of his fellow craftsmen have found their way to the studio for this dragging the net from Glenn Kotche (On Fillmore, Wilco) and Jim Becker (Califone, Iron & Wine) to Zak Riles (Watter, Grails) and sought after sidemen Luke Schneider (Margo Price, JEFF The Brotherhood, Natural Child) and Jim Elkington (Tweedy, Richard Thompson, Steve Gunn). The songs jut out from the piers of Fahey and Basho and then tumble into endless buzzing drones and blissful hums. Stripped of the words this would rival any Scissor Tail release for acoustic dominance.

Though that’s not to discount the lyrics on Clipper, they’re as literate and as personal as ever, lending the album Toth’s own brand of rural mesquite, a woodsiness that flecks each song with a mouthful of smoke. In his aim to construct an album that stands alone on it’s instrumentation, he’s succeeded and then some. Combined, however, the instrumental acumen and lyrical quality push this towards one of Toth’s finest releases. The lyrics suggest a haunted America; full of murder ballads and codeine comedowns for a generation adrift and reaching, grasping and grappling with truths that seem to grow less plausible every day. Toth has said that in the wake of 2016’s political heft, he may slow down output, not wanting to add to a glut of musical content out there. But if the spigot slows and each new release is of this caliber, then I’m on board for the wait.




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Wooden Wand – “Mexican Coke” + Carlos The Second

Good news today out of the Wooden Wand camp, there’s a new album on the way from Three-Lobed, Clipper Ship. The album arrives in May and is preceded by the gorgeous new single “Mexican Coke,” a sighed country ode to having to supplement income with side hustles. The album marks a shift away from Toth’s last few, stripping back to more of the sing-songwriter countenance that permeated his lone album for Rykodisc under his given name. The album boasts an impressive supporting cast of players ranging from Wilco’s Glenn Kotche to session stars like Darin Gray, Ryan Norris, Jim Becker, Luke Schneider, Zak Riles and Jim Elkington. All the players have contributed to accomplished visions of folk and country over the past few years and they bring that drive and finesse to Clipper Ship. Its been a touch since Toth had a Wooden Wand album out and it feels good to have one on the way for sure.


The announcement makes the news doubly good today because while we were all wrapped up in the tail end tail spin of 2017, James and a few friends slipped an album out under the name Carlos The Second. It features some nuanced instrumentals from Ryan Norris (who also appears on the new album) and sets Toth’s honeyed croon agaist some starker than usual settings, and even a smattering of beat driven tracks. Its new territory for sure, but fits well into a catalog that never shies away from collaboration. As an added bonus, Langhorne Slim swings by for a flat-out wonderful country rocker that has both singers at their best. Check out “Hall Of Mirrors” below:

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