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Alternative & Indie - Released May 22, 2020 | Woodsist

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 8, 2016 | Woodsist

Over the years, fans of the band Woods have come to rely on some things. Their albums always sound great thanks to bassist Jarvis Taveniere's uncluttered but sneakily weird production. Their songs, as written by Jeremy Earl, are folk-rock gems with the occasional country-rock ballad and noisy, '70s-influenced, lengthy jam thrown in. Earl's voice is another constant, with his high-pitched twang resonating more deeply than it might seem to on first listen. The band has built an impressive catalog of albums that has only sounded more impressive and accomplished as it's grown. 2016's addition to their canon, City Sun Eater in the River of Light, is a giant left-turn that came out of nowhere and may throw fans for a loop. It seems that since the last album, the band have become big fans of Ethiopian Jazz, like that of the great Mulatu Astatke. Maybe one of the guys watched Broken Flowers, or maybe it was some crate digging that led to their epiphany. Whatever the source, City Sun Eater is obviously informed by the swinging rhythms and honking horns of that style. The first track, "Sun City Creeps," sounds like it was lifted from Astatke's songbook, then run through an indie pop filter and tricked out with a slashing guitar solo. The rest of the album features a few more songs that mine this same territory, and while it's a little weird to hear the band making such a dramatic stylistic shift, it mostly works. Especially on the songs that tilt more toward the Woods' end of the spectrum, like the very catchy "Can't See at All." They aren't Frankenstein-ing the two styles together randomly, there is care and craft applied to making them into something new and something still very Woods-y despite the horns and grooves. The rest of the album is more typical, with laid-back countrified ballads ("Morning Light"), denim-clad '70s rock ("Hollow Home"), pulsing neo-Krautrock ("I See in the Dark"), minor-key folk-rock ("The Other Side"), and heartwarming jangle pop ("Politics of Free") making up the bulk. The production is slightly slicker than that of anything they've done before, which can probably be put down to recording again in a real studio with Taveniere taking more advantage of the tricks at his disposal. Earl, too, sounds like he is upping his game vocally to match the production values, as his singing is even more elastic and affecting than before. Even with the typically strong songwriting and the Woods-iness at its core, it's easy to see how this could be a divisive album among the Woods faithful. The chances they take and the choices they make might leave their more conservative fans behind. Still, anyone willing to make the leap with the band will find that the adventurousness and exploration displayed by all involved pay off with yet another impressive Woods album to add to their collection. © Tim Sendra /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 15, 2014 | Woodsist

Woods have made huge leaps forward with almost every album since their ramshackle beginnings as a stony folk collective. Their songs, always tuneful and hemmed with emotional push, had a tendency to get a little lost in the presentation on their earliest recordings, with songwriter Jeremy Earl's mournful tunes often disrupted by interjections of noise or sullied by murky production. The smoke was beginning to clear with 2009's Songs of Shame, though the band was still indulging in side-long jams and noisy sidesteps. Released in 2012, Bend Beyond stood as the clearest document of Woods to date, sounding like a streamlined update to '70s roots rockers like the Band, Dylan, or Neil Young when backed by Crazy Horse at their most ragged. With Light and With Love sharpens the focus even more, expanding the band's sonic toolbox and experimenting with more adventurous arrangements and studio trickery. The album still echoes the dusty country-rock vibrations of '70s FM radio Americana, but tends a little more toward touchstones of '60s psychedelia and sounds from the dawn of acid rock. Vocals pipe out of watery Leslie speakers in a trick borrowed from the Beatles, and the nine-minute-long title track begins with a single-chord groove, raga-styled guitar lines freaking out on top of the mix à la Sandy Bull or the Byrds. As the song stretches out, it dissolves into a space-brained jam of overdriven organs, driving bass, and all types of auxiliary percussion slowly creeping up in the mix. This type of instrumentation is brand new for Woods, who in their earlier days relied more on ghostly reverb than precisely organized instruments to flesh out their songs. More acoustic numbers fit in nicely among the sprawling jams and busier rockers. "Shepherd" is a straightforward slice of sad-eyed country, coming on like Comes a Time-era Neil Young, but soon filled out with honky tonk piano and glowing pedal steel. "Full Moon" borrows lovesick slide guitar leads from Derek & the Dominos. All of the reference points are just window dressing for the core songwriting that makes Woods stand out in their scene of freaky folksters. Without Earl's nasal falsetto singing lyrics of wonderment, wandering, healing, and hope, With Light and With Love would lack the heart that holds together its heightened performances. The album is easily the most solid offering from the Woods camp to date, besting even the production of its incredibly strong predecessor and presenting the songs with even more clarity and interesting choices than ever before. © Fred Thomas /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 21, 2017 | Woodsist

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Recorded in the two months following the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Woods' tenth album is a laid-back call to arms that delivers the simple message embodied by the title, Love Is Love. Taking up where their last album, 2016's City Sun Eater in the River of Light, left off, the six songs here are imbued with psychedelic funk, Ethiopian jazz, inner-space explorations, and gently strummed acid folk jams. The saxes and horns take an even larger role, the rhythms are even more limber (check the opening title track for some proof of that, plus some hefty guitar soloing), and Jeremy Earl's lyrics have all the weary, defiant grace that the situation calls for. The album may be on the short side at only six songs, but it didn't need to be any longer. The running time of just over half an hour is the perfect length for a short jolt of sonic warmth and friendly reassurance. Plus, an honest look at the feeling many people had in the wake of the election's results. A nightmare vision of a world turned upside down, "Lost in a Crowd" is handled gently by the band (in very Band-like fashion) with tinkling keys, thrumming organ, and lovely vocal harmonies helping to sugarcoat the message just a bit. Add in a spooky, trippy instrumental ("Spring Is in the Air") and a sprawling psych-folk hymn ("Hit That Drum"), and it's another fine release from the band. Created out of sadness and unease, the album turns these negatives into something more positive. To Woods' credit, they don't look for easy answers, and Love Is Love is a thought-provoking, intensely felt album, full of all the warmth, frustration, and alternating bouts of despair and hope that half (or more) of the United States felt at the time the record was recorded. © Tim Sendra /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 14, 2009 | Shrimper

Woods like it loose, and aren't afraid to show it. It is in the cover art for their fourth album, Songs of Shame, in artwork designed to look as if printed on creased paper, the notes written in somebody's warbly scrawl, replete with crossouts. And it is, of course, ever present in songwriter Jeremy Earl's voice, which quivers in a high, pinched whine that immediately calls to mind Neil Young. Also owing a little to Young is the band's woolly jamming on the nearly ten-minute "September with Pete," featuring Magick Markers guitarist Pete Nolan. Picking up on threads from the experimental Woods Family Creeps semi-side-project released the previous year, the song, and two others, feature G. Lucas Crane on cassette manipulations. (He was also a member of the band's live lineup.) His work is subtle but effective, adding a mysterious sheen beneath Earl's tinnily recorded acoustic strums and slightly saturated vocals. Woods are, in form and spirit, a psych-folk act, but there is little that is warm or inviting about the sound of their music, except maybe the excitement of its creation, which spills into tumbling instrumentals ("Echo Lake") and sincerely sloppy harmonies ("Where and What Are You?") Acoustic guitars sound sharp, drums are simultaneously far away and overpowering. Still, Woods manage to get their heads together, pulling off a cover of Graham Nash's "Military Madness" like ragtag peacenik soldiers, and ultimately marching together pretty righteously. © Jesse Jarnow /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 18, 2012 | Woodsist

Even with their fuzzy textures and tape experiments, Brooklyn noise folk group Woods have always made sounds that seemed more suited to the sunny settings of the West Coast than the overcrowded buildings and busy surroundings of their urban hometown. With Bend Beyond, the fifth proper full-length from a ridiculously prolific band, Woods' songs feels more drenched in sunshine and ocean spray than ever, and coincidentally more polished and confident than their ramshackle lo-fi earlier albums. In fairness, Woods founder and principal songwriter Jeremy Earl left Brooklyn for a more peaceful home in upstate New York, where he and the rest of the band put the album together. Rather than a remote cabin-in-the-woods record, however, Bend Beyond sounds open, invigorated, and more alive than ever. Lead single "Cali in a Cup" lets go of some of the eeriness and sad-hearted vibes that the band embraced on breakthrough albums like Songs of Shame, feeling instead bright and jubilant, the sonic equivalent of an evening drive up the Pacific Coast Highway. A new level of maturity in Earl's songwriting comes through on tracks like "Is It Honest" and the brilliant "Impossible Skys," and imbues the album with a sense of hopefulness and self-assuredness never heard from the band before. Even the creepy acoustic strains and off-kilter percussion of album closer "Something Surreal" don't equate to the kind of downer folk all the elements suggest. The production feels more deliberate and the songs feel more purposed. Perhaps the absence of the one or two endless jam-style songs that have marked almost every Woods release up until this point contributes to the album's feeling of clearheadedness. The closest Bend Beyond gets to jamming is the opening title track, whose passages of guitar exploration come off more like an homage to Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere-era Crazy Horse and sound restrained when compared to some of the "anything goes"-style noise jams that graced past efforts. With stronger songs, more solid production, and a unique synthesis of tight performances (thanks in part to new drummer Aaron Neveu) and tasteful noise, Bend Beyond is the most fully realized set of songs yet from Woods, and continues a lineage of each record surpassing their last. © Fred Thomas /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released March 3, 2020 | Woodsist

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 31, 2011 | Woodsist

On Woods' fifth album in five years, the duo of Jeremy Earl and Jarvis Taveniere keep getting better and better. Their 2010 record At Echo Lake refined their sound, cleaning it up a bit, focusing the songwriting, and delivering equally exciting pop and noise thrills. On Sun and Shade, they go a step further to the point of actually being mid-fi, instead of resolutely lo-fi. There’s a clarity and strength in the sound that they’ve never had before and when matched with songs that sound like lost folk-rock classics, it makes for a very impressive record. The clearer sound makes Jeremy Earl's vocal the focal point and he’s up to the task, sounding more confident than ever and hitting notes he may have just missed in the past. On a song like the opening "Pushing Onlys," he has a poignant grace you might not have expected. Plus, the track sounds like a Beau Brummels demo, which is kind of amazing. In fact, most of the record sounds like the Brummels or the Byrds or the countless garage bands who worked a jangly ballad into their set list after folk-rock began to bloom. Not a rehash though, more a continuation of the sound of jangling guitars matched with plaintive vocals and melancholy emotions. It’s a timeless formula, and Woods work it to a simple, noise-y perfection on Sun and Shade. Especially on the lilting “Any Other Day” or “Hand It Out.” The duo also indulges in some quietly folky moments (“Wouldn’t Waste"), a little bit of folk-pop (“What Faces the Sheet”), and laid-back neo-pysch (“White Out”) along the way. Spliced in among the short songs are a couple epic-length songs. The first, “Out of the Eye,” is a propulsive and hypnotic Krautrock-inspired track featuring longtime contributor G Lucas Crane on tapes; the second, “Sol y Sombra,” is a drifting bongo and triangle-style hippie jam that brings the energy level way down but also casts a pleasing spell at the same time. These songs work to balance the record, providing a drawn-out contrast to the sharp, sweet pop songs. Basically, Woods have put it all together on Sun and Shade, matching inspiration with performance and crafting their best record yet, one that will stand with the great folk-psych albums of the past 40 years, from the Notorious Byrd Brothers to the Rain Parade's Emergency Third Rail Power Trip to Either/Or to now. © Tim Sendra /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 11, 2010 | Woodsist

Since forming in 2005, Woods have been churning out albums, EPs, and singles at such a brisk pace that it’s not surprising the band’s music changed quickly as well. At Echo Lake is some of the group’s most focused and accessible music -- relatively speaking, of course. Woods still love lo-fi production values as much as they love jangly guitars and sweet harmonies, but this time the band puts its pop instincts and classic rock fetishes at the forefront. At Echo Lake isn’t just folky rock, it’s straight-up folk-rock in the tradition of the Byrds and early Grateful Dead. “Blood Dries Darker” opens the album with a melody so sunny that it’s hard to believe it wasn’t recorded in California, while “Mornin’ Time” evokes the Dead’s hazy warmth, albeit surrounded by billowing clouds of distortion. If there was any doubt that Woods have the lo-fi aesthetic down to an art, this album proves the band is in control of its noise instead of vice versa. “Pick Up” uses sound effects and subtly static-laden synths to add space and emotion, and the gorgeous, chiming “Suffering Season” shades its pristine melody with almost imperceptible tape manipulations courtesy of G. Lucas Crane, who also worked on the band’s previous album, Songs of Shame. Indeed, there’s something very precise about At Echo Lake, particularly in Jeremy Earl's vocals and the arrangement of “Time Fading Lines,” which manages to add a buzzing banjo/sitar without feeling retro. Even when the band channels the Byrds and Sonic Youth on “From the Horn,” which sounds like “Eight Miles High” meets “Dirty Boots,” Woods never come across as overly indebted to their ‘60s or ‘90s influences. Though At Echo Lake recedes into static on later songs like the moody ballads “I Was Gone” and “Deep,” it just underscores that the album’s focus isn’t too contrived. These are some of Woods' finest songs, and the freshness of their melodies and Earl's voice makes them among the most sophisticated and transporting bands of the lo-fi vanguard. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released November 6, 2007 | Shrimper

Originally a side project of Brooklyn rockers Meneguar intended to allow founding members Jeremy Earl and Christian DeRoeck a chance to scratch their freak-folk jones, Woods has developed a life of its own. On this second ful-length, Earl and DeRoeck take aural cues from Lou Barlow's seminal recordings with Dinosaur Jr. and very early Sebadoh with simultaneously intimate and eerie dual guitar and voice renderings. Great songs and chops poke through the down-home murk, making this one a keeper for all fans of lo-fi and psych-folk. © TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 7, 2020 | Woodsist

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Rock - Released July 20, 2018 | Woods

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 16, 2007 | Shrimper

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 5, 2020 | Woodsist

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 12, 2017 | Woodsist

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 1, 2016 | Woodsist

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Alternative & Indie - Released July 9, 2013 | Woodsist

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Miscellaneous - Released November 19, 2019 | Woods

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Alternative & Indie - Released March 16, 2010 | Woodsist

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released August 2, 2019 | Woods