As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmosphere hopes to pull back the curtain on a wealth of sights and sound from luminaries such as Wooden Wand.
My notebooks are all full. The margins, the pages — and especially the flimsy cardboard covers — are cluttered with doodles. Pictures drawn from boredom; creatures born from forgotten daydreams. But these are also love letters, to girls I never knew, mythology I creates, and bands I once loved without reservation.
Such is Briarwood. It’s the musical love letter of James Toth, AKA Wooden Wand. The maestro behind countless albums of heady material stretching across an endless swatch of time and genre, Toth has sketched out love letters to his heroes of past and present. This time joined by the Gum Creek Killers and a few friends, collectively known as The Briarwood Virgins; Toth has once again incorporated himself into a ragged band eager to transform his stream of consciousness into equally haggard art.
Briarwood continues to scuttle Toth’s early psychedelic leanings in favor of his rooted confessionals. The Briarwood Virgins add a layer of grime that feels at home next to Toth’s folk and country influences, providing the erratic shapes and piercing arrows on Toth’s notebook. Even as Toth continues to drift from his acid-washed youth, his music still carries the mark of his first musical loves. Briarwood is not about bells and whistles; it’s about taking those notebooks full of drawings and turning the nostalgia into reality — a reality with warmth, passion, and peace of mind. As stacks of doodles become dust catchers the world over, Toth’s lightning bolt etched with Bob Dylan’s name next to the jolly roger with “Shakey” carved into the skull is being brought to life throughout the rough and tumble jams of Briarwood.