Release Date: Apr 15, 2014
Record label: Woodsist
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Lo-Fi, Indie Folk
In 2014, Woods still stand tall, having morphed from a lo-fi weirdo electric folk band on their own fringe label into a veritable lighthouse on the now populous independent coast. Scratchy four-tracks and G. Lucas Crane’s tape manipulations in the decaying Rear House have been swapped out for Jarvis Taveniere’s very well-aging studio prowess and a pared down four-piece configuration.
Review Summary: The shape of summer to come. As much a collective and an ethos as a functioning band, the increasingly well-groomed Brooklyn outfit Woods had released five albums in five years up to and including 2012’s high water mark Bend Beyond, yet it never really seemed like they had strayed far from their roots. The psychedelic jams were a bit more clear-eyed, and the production increasingly sharp, sure, but Woods remained Woods – a quirky, stony Americana band letting their freak folk flag fly.
The eighth album from stoner folk quartet Woods, With Light and With Love is their first recorded in a professional studio. Next to the digitized, future-slicked sounds of other latter-day psych totems such as Lonerism or Merriweather Post Pavilion, it feels like a reverent, immersive ramble through the corridors of lysergic pop history. .
There’s something in the consistency of Woods’ records that makes the band difficult to talk about. It’s hard because the draw of these songs—ramshackle acoustics, Jeremy Earl’s honeyed falsetto, tangled yet sunkissed hooks, and experimental edge—are easy to spot, but the overall, often fascinating effect of these elements is tougher to pin down. There’s something you can’t quite put your finger on, even if the feeling these dusty songs give is deeply textured.
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.
On Brooklyn’s Woods’ seventh album in nine years, they continue on their ever-evolving psych-folk trajectory. It sparkles with the light and love mentioned in the album title, lending the 10 songs the lackadaisical summer vibe of the Berkeley Street hippies in ’60s San Francisco, especially on the nine-minute title track that swoops around with no boundaries. It’s strikingly and impressively different from the sluggish and lethargic output of their debut, 2006’s ‘How To Survive In + In The Woods’.
Combine their rustic, throwback image and prodigious work ethic and Woods is about as literal as the term “cottage industry” gets in indie rock—not only do they run a label, they also throw an annual get-together in Big Sur consisting of “two days of mellow music and celebration.” And it's possible that attending the Woodsist Festival is the only way to find people who engage in heated debate about how one would rank Woods’ discography. By 2012’s Bend Beyond, they’d released five proper LPs in as many years, all just about equally good. Their impeccable consistency can make you wonder if Woods have the impulses or incentive to truly go for it.
With Light and With Love finds Woods mining the trippiest corners of their trademark psych-folk sound. A singing saw, a slide guitar and a saloon piano all make an appearance on the Brooklyn quartet’s eighth—yes, eighth—album since forming in 2005, and Jeremy Earl’s falsetto is more bewitching than ever. For fans of the band’s more off-kilter offerings, this is good news.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. It's difficult to put your finger on one specific reason for Woods' continued obscurity; it's likelier that a host of factors are responsible for them having flown under the radar since releasing their debut, At Rear House, back in 2007. Their name, whilst certainly in-keeping with their music's solid folk foundations, is relatively uninspiring.
Prolificacy is a double-edged sword. A steady stream of new music keeps the fans serviced while allowing bands to tour continuously, but it eliminates the idea that a new album is an event worthy of a celebration. It also leads to an increasingly impenetrable back catalogue for n00bs. Brooklyn lo-fi roots rockers Woods have released five albums in the last six years, not to mention numerous splits and seven-inches, all of them good.
Since forming in 2005, Brooklyn’s Woods have evolved from a sweetly ramshackle folk act prone to burying their tunes in layers of hiss and found sound, to a dynamic indie-rock force. With Light And With Love sees them make their most accessible and ambitious statement to date. Key to its success is the band’s willingness to shake off their lo-fi roots, bringing Jeremy Earl’s distinctive falsetto to the fore and emphasising their songwriting strengths.
Brooklyn outfit Woods have been slowly polishing their sound since the intriguing breakthrough ‘Songs of Shame’. It mostly culminated in a move away from their lo-fi jams, resulting in a more tightly melodic direction. ‘With Light And With Love’ is the true melding of both sides of their collective personality, standing as perhaps their most immediate, but also most expansive release yet.On this eighth album, Woods have decided to reincorporate their creepy interludes around their melodies.
Brooklyn’s Woods have combatted the “jam band” label for almost 10 years now by releasing albums filled with intricate folk-rock tunes. But tracks like the instrumental September With Pete from 2009’s Songs Of Shame have made this an uphill trudge, courtesy of those who associate seven-plus-minute songs with the jam band tag. So admittedly, Woods are not without blame for this impression.
Woods’ sprightly new record, With Light and With Love, is the type of album that can really sneak up on you if you truly let it. The leisurely, retro-tinged arrangements and subtle but striking guitar work consistently colour these vibrant numbers, which coalesce elegantly into an understated but accomplished artistic step forward by the Brooklyn indie quartet. The breezy opening numbers float by tranquilly, as the placid, sunny swing of “Shepherd” and the Byrds-like bounce of “Shining” both set a serene tone and tenor that the rest of the record doesn’t waver too far from.
Woods With Light and With Love (Woodsist) You build a reputation when you put out a new album every year, so Woods created a stir when 2013 came and went without a new release. The Brooklyn art-folk quartet and psych veterans may have been bored or burnt out or simply working on other things, but all that washes away on seventh LP With Light and With Love. A few moments of woozy, crystal-strewn guitar, and we're right back where we left them.