Written by: Dave Cantrell
If you’re anything like us here at SEM, which of course you are, then we have at least two things in common. One, we love dogs with something bordering (at least) on a devotional fervor, and two, our curiosity for new music is one of the only interests in life that eclipses point one, which would further mean that during the first seventeen or so years of this century, unless you were in a convent or prison or perhaps lost in meditation on a misty mountain top somewhere down Kentucky way, the work of Wooden Wand (both with and without the “Vanishing Voice” attached to it, or for that matter “World War IV” of “The Sky High Band” or “The Briarwood Virgins” or…) was ubiquitous enough in both the music press you read and your weekly trawls through the CD bins at your local store that you eventually counted – and still count – a small haul of their albums among your stash. Blessed with an addictive down-homeness that was equal parts intelligence and wry, mystery and sincerity, the music that semi-collective made never failed to nail you right there in the softest part of your Americana heart without ever resorting to the slightest bit of sap. In fact, if anyone were to stumble upon a concept called the ‘intellect of human sentimentality’ it would be the music made by James Toth and his co-horts that would likely have drawn them there in the first place. And it’s that same combo of easygoing bespoke aesthetic dancing along with a ceaselessly modern sidelong glance that makes this latest from Toth’s current project James & The Giants so engaging.
Drawn from the forthcoming self-titled debut album released June 30th on Kill Rock Stars Nashville and produced by Jarvis Taneviere from the not-to-be-confused-with Woods, the song “I Wanna Go Down to the Basement” has all the charm and off-hand philosophizing we’ve come to expect from anything Toth-helmed while, in its video representation (shot, directed, and edited by Ryan Sarnowski), offering us that shaggy, invincible joy of the everyday that a dog can bring. Whether it’s Oscar too busy to care about the camera, Sadie pulling the whole world behind her at every step, Luna or Moonie or the fittingly-named Virgil Caine in whose memory the video is dedicated, there’s something about the, shall we say, pedestrian-yet-oddly divine nature of the footage that in its very presentation manages to underscore both the lyric and Toth’s delivery of it. Because, if we’re being honest, what we really love about this video is how the compilation of dog moments are so, well, unmemorable, each of them on their leash which naturally restrains their options and yet they manage to behave in a bit of an unshackled way regardless. I mean, c’mon, attached to some merciless lead and you still find a way to be free and a bit unhinged? Now that’s spirit, that’s resilience, and it’s almost certainly enough to help someone overcome whatever fear and get their ass down to the basement, whatever ‘the basement’ might represent. In any case, color us completely captivated and eagerly tugging at the leash to hear the whole record. [pre-order James & The Giants here]