To describe Brooklyn-based quartet Woods as a folk rock band is to mislead the listener. For starters, they have a “tape-effects technician” listed as a band member, the first sign that something a little different is happening here. The second is their discography, as they have already racked up seven albums in seven years, suggesting a work ethic light years away from the characteristically laid-back genre.
The most conclusive proof is the music itself. An unusual but addictive mixture of folksy Americana, gorgeous melodies, and experimental and lo-fi elements, with a hint of psychedelic rock, the music of Woods is worth exploring if for no other reason than the fact that there is so much to discover. The best evidence yet is this week’s release of Bend Beyond, the band’s seventh album (released on Woods’ own label, Woodsist) and the most likely yet to garner wider attention. For an example of the contrast in the band’s various ambitions, listen to the dark rumblings of the title track that opens the album, and then the gloriously simple pleasures of “Cali in a Cup,” a song that feels like an instant hit from first listen.
This is a band that has serious crossover potential. At times they remind me of a meatier Fleet Foxes or Band of Horses, and then some of the textures remind me of Godspeed You Black Emperor! or the Animals, as random a leap as that may seem. In Jeremy Earl, they have a vocalist who can either bring sunshine to a song, or be the calm center that guides the band through the maelstrom even when he’s singing about some pretty dark themes. And yet as much as the band does like to explore these tangents, they do so within the framework of strong tunes that feel fully accessible for all the meticulous musicianship at work.
It would be interesting to see how Woods makes some of this music work in a live setting, and fortunately for us, we have the opportunity coming up shortly. Woods will be embarking on a nationwide tour to promote the album (following the completion of their support dates for the Walkmen) and will be playing at the Echo on October 18th. Tickets for that show are still available. Bend Beyond is available at a record store or online MP3 store (if you insist on being all “youth”) as of yesterday.
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