released May 11th, 2010
from the album - Suffering Season
from all music
A lo-fi indie folk-pop band from Brooklyn, NY, Woods feature members of the indie rock band Meneguar and are associated with the Woodsist label. Founded as a side project for Meneguar bandmembers Jeremy Earl and Christian DeRoeck, Woods made their recording debut in 2005 with How to Survive In/In the Woods, a double-cassette release on the Fuckittapes label. In 2007 there was a series of Woods releases including the limited-edition 7" vinyl single Ram on Gilgongo Records; the full-length album At Rear House, released on the Woodsist label in association with the Shrimper label; and a CD reissue of How to Survive In/In the Woods, also on Woodsist/Shrimper. Among this series of releases, At Rear House was particularly well received, earning lots of positive write-ups on the Internet. The successive full-length Woods release, Woods Family Creeps (2008), released on Time-Lag Records, marked the inclusion of new bandmembers Jarvis Taveniere (also of Meneguar) and G. Lucas Crane. A 7" vinyl single, Sunlit (2008), was released around the same time on Captured Tracks. Follow-up album Songs of Shame (2009), released on Woodsist/Shrimper, was another well-received effort by the band from a critical standpoint. Most notably, upon its release Songs of Shame was championed by tastemaking indie website Pitchfork as some of the year's "Best New Music," a high-profile accolade that generated widespread buzz about Woods. The singles Dark (released on Captured Tracks) and To Clean/Rain on Radio (issued by the U.K. label Half Machine) appeared later that year. Ever busy, the group released their third album, At Echo Lake, in 2010.
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 fetish 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.
1 Blood Dries Darker Earl, Taveniere 4:29
2 Pick Up Earl, Taveniere 2:28
3 Suffering Season Earl, Taveniere 3:06
4 Time Fading Lines Earl, Taveniere 3:39
5 From the Horn Earl, Taveniere 2:04
6 Death Rattles Earl, Taveniere 3:24
7 Mornin' Time Earl, Taveniere 1:52
8 I Was Gone Earl, Taveniere 1:53
9 Get Back Earl, Taveniere 2:05
10 Deep Earl, Taveniere 1:59
11 Til the Sun Rips Earl, Taveniere 2:23