8/10 Mike Staff review, 11 January 2012
Bit of history lesson, this. Before he was Wooden Wand, James Toth put out a couple of weird little Jandek-influenced psych-folk records under the name Golden Calves way back in the mid-'90s. They contained elements of noise influence within their music and played predominantly within the noise/experimental community, but the music on this 2LP collection of their recordings is a mixture of songs and awkward instrumental passages, and while Toth's songwriting style has matured since there's still plenty to admire about the material on offer here, which while very rough around the edges in places has a playfulness and attention to tone that would later be honed into something quite powerful. If you're into his Wooden Wand material, this is not only enlightening but also an enjoyable collection, with a good balance between the experimental and conventional song forms it utilises. It's no masterpiece, but it's got some lovely moments. In his own liner notes, Toth says that “I should have let my talents marinate for a while before rushing out records that now sound to me like thinly-veiled love letters to Siltbreeze”, and I'm not sure how much of that is false modesty because compared to things like the agonising early experimental Dan Deacon efforts recently unearthed this seems fully-formed enough to me! We are our own worst critics, I suppose.
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