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March 27th, 2009

Wooden Wand Born Bad

Born Bad

2008 was the worst year of James Jackson Toth’s life. It all began when, in the midst of an ill-fated and ill-conceived 57-day tour, his entire band – including his wife and partner of ten years – bailed, leaving Toth to finish the tour on his own. His life those next three weeks was a cross between Vanishing Point and The Brown Bunny, as our hapless hero, determined to honor his obligations despite anything resembling good sense, was left with nothing but time alone. Time alone to reflect. Time alone to be self destructive. And time alone to write. Over 50 new songs were written and recorded between the middle of the tour and Christmas 2008, during which time Toth, now sans wife and band, “celebrated” his 30th birthday, suffered a driving-related arrest and subsequent evening in jail, split with both his manager and record label, discovered that even his meager record store job back home was no longer available, found his utility bills had doubled, and survived what he calls his “Bukowski Christmas.” Clearly, he was being tested. The only music that made sense to him during this time was power electronics and the “Roadhouse” station on XM satellite radio.  

Born Bad is the product of these very dark days, an group of songs that, when presented to the label in demo form (as they appear here), was very likely the final nail in the coffin of Toth’s relationship with said label. A close friend who heard these songs advised Toth to never let anyone hear them. Though Toth concedes that a good deal of the record is not autobiographical per se, the almost comically intimate tunes are certainly more direct and personal than anything Toth has released during his 12 year recording career. In as much as they represent a snapshot of an especially trying time, Born Bad is the summation of hard luck, alienation, and being humbled by hard times. Toth himself freely admits that he can only vaguely recall the recording of several tracks. Free from any contractual obligations for the first time in nearly ten years, Toth decided to self-release the album (actually a co-release with the great People In A Position To Know label out of Olympia,WA) as a way of closing this particularly trying chapter of his life. This strictly limited vinyl release boasts colored vinyl, a complete lyric sheet, hand-screened covers, and a free download coupon. For this release, Toth has chosen to return to the name Wand, a moniker which has always been lucky for him.  As for the run of personal hardship and extremely  bad luck – well, Toth seems to be mostly over it all now, or at least well on his way. But the songs survive, as songs do.  {-78 GraveAtlanta}

[download] Shaving Cold

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