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Woods

Perennial

    Woods are in bloom again, inviting you to disappear into a new spectrum of colours and sounds and dreams on ‘Perennial’.

    Formed in Brooklyn in 2004, Woods have matured into a true independent institution, above and below the root, reliably emerging every few years with new music that grows towards the latest sky. Operating the Woodsist label since 2006 and curating the beloved homespun Woodsist Festival for the musical universe they’ve built, ‘Perennial’ is the sound of a band on the edge of their 20th anniversary and still finding bold new ways to sound like (and challenge) themselves.

    ‘Perennial’ grew from a bed of guitar/keyboard/drum loops by Woods head-in-chief Jeremy Earl, a form of winter night meditation that evolved into an unexplored mode of collaborative songwriting. With Earl’s starting points, he and bandmates Jarvis Taveniere and John Andrews convened, first at Earl’s house in New York, then at Panoramic House studio in Stinson Beach, California, site of sessions for 2020’s ‘Strange To Explain’. With a view of the sparkling Pacific and tape rolling, they began to build, jamming over the loops, switching instruments, and developing a few dozen building blocks.

    The album’s resulting 11 songs, 4 of them instrumental, are in the classic Woods mode--shimmering, familiar, fractionally unsettling--but with the half-invisible infinity boxes of Earl’s loops burbling beneath each like a mysterious underground source. From source to seed to bloom, each loop unfolds into something unpredictable, from the jeweled pop of the aching “Little Black Flowers” to the ecstatic starlit freak-beat of “Another Side.” They are blossomings both far-out and comforting, like the Mellotronic cloud-hopping of “Between the Past,” or sometimes just plain comforting, like the widescreen snowglobe fantasia of the instrumental “White Winter Melody,” touched by Connor Gallaher’s pedal steel.

    Woods have long used the studio as a place of songwriting, naming 2007’s At Rear House after their shared dwelling and recording space. But Perennial also carries with it an even longer view of Woods. Emerging from the process alongside the music was Earl’s reflection that “perennial plants and flowers are nature’s loops,” an idea rolling under the album’s lyrics like the loops themselves. It certainly applies to the band, too, who have quietly tended to a long, committed project of being a band in the weird-ass 21st century, both individually and communally. Though separated by coasts, the communal sprit carries through Earl, Taveniere, and Andrews’ collaboration, a living embodiment of the freedoms rediscovered every time a new collectively created piece of music emerges.

    For nearly two decades, Woods have survived subgenres, anchored in the fertile soil below hashtags like lo-fi and freak-folk and psychedelic and indie, and built a shared history that’s something to marvel at. As the flagship band for Woodsist, they’ve accumulated a striking extended family of collaborators (and Woods alum) that have made the label one of the most dependable imprints in the kaleidoscopic low-key underground. It’s a glow that’s transferred whole to the blissed-out Woodsist Fests held in Accord, New York in recent years, which have folded in a wide range of diverse sounds, from the the jazz cosmoverse of the Sun Ra Arkestra and adventurous legends Yo La Tengo, to a hard-to-even-count family tree of contemporaries, like Kevin Morby (who served a few tours of duty as Woods bassist) and Kurt Vile (who released his 2009 debut on Woodsist), a living community in sound.

    Perennial carries all of this, shaped by decades, but made in the moment, and here right now. The smell of the flowers doesn’t remain, but sometimes the flowers do.
    Jesse Jarnow

    Recorded and mixed by Jarvis Taveniere at Panoramic House in Stinson Beach, CA with additional recording at The Ship in Los Angeles, CA and Cottekill Bird Sanctuary in Stone Ridge, NY. Produced by Jarvis Taveniere and Jeremy Earl. Mastered by Timothy Stollenwerk at Stereophonic Mastering in Portland, OR.

    Jeremy Earl - vocals, guitars, drums, percussion, sk-5, mellotron, vibraphone, autoharp, loops
    Jarvis Taveniere - guitar, bass, upright bass, hammond, vocals
    John Andrews - piano, organs, mellotron, drums, vocals
    Connor Gallaher - Pedal Steel
    Kyle Forester - sax, wurlitzer


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Andy says: Another masterpiece from Jeremy Earl and his psych-pop troubadours. They're just fantastic song-writers and vibe merchants. Woods are unique in that they're forever on an upward curve. After all these years this could actually be their best record yet.

    TRACK LISTING

    Side A
    1. THE SEED
    2. BETWEEN THE PAST
    3. ANOTHER SIDE
    4. WHITE WINTER MELODY
    5. SIP OF HAPPINESS
    Side B
    6. LITTLE BLACK FLOWERS
    7. DAY MOVING ON
    8. THE WIND AGAIN
    9. WEEP
    10. DOUBLE DREAM
    11. PERENNIAL

    John Andrews & The Yawns

    Love For The Underdog

      John Andrews is something of an open secret in a certain corner of the music scene: a versatile musician and animator. A film school drop out whose work hat-tips tradition as much as outsider anti-aesthetics. He’s spent over a decade on the DIY circuit, playing early house shows alongside then up-and-coming peers Weyes Blood and Daniel Bachman. Today he is still out there projecting his sketchy hand-drawn animations during his performances in coffee shops, small galleries and non-traditional venues. Andrews’ painterly approach now introduces the listener to his version of New York City, the place he was bound to end up after years of dwelling in Pennsylvania farm towns and New Hampshire barns. There is handmade vibrancy to the world he’s imagined here: intimate moments seen from the interior, looking outward from hole-in-the-wall restaurants, theaters and the fragments of peace found within the restless and dirty street corners.

      Love For The Underdog, his aptly titled fourth release with the Woodsist label, was tracked live to tape in various studios and apartments across the Empire State with help from his bandmates in Cut Worms’ touring outfit, Max Clarke, Keven Lareau and Noah Bond. Buoyant melodies are supported by timeless string arrangements, translated from Andrews’ head to page with the help of friend Simon Hanes. The string quartet follows the tradition of Francoise Hardy, Harry Nilsson, Margo Guryan and Belle and Sebastian, giving the whole thing a cinematic ambience with stark shadows of an Edward Hopper painting. The lyrics tie together narratives of cynical heroes and troubled lovers. Put on the record and sink into well-worn red velvet theater seats, when the lights go down and the flickering of projectors run the title: Love For The Underdog, indeed.

      TRACK LISTING

      1. Checks In The Mail
      2. Never Go Away
      3. Fourth Wall
      4. Starving Artist
      5. Walking Under My Loves Ladders
      6. Cloudy
      7. Only Heart
      8. I Want To Believe

      Bobbie Lovesong

      On The Wind

        Bobbie Lovesong is the alias of American recording artist Madelyn Strutz. On The Wind is the debut full length from Bobbie, who produced, performed, recorded, and mixed the album herself in Taos, New Mexico. The album is a collection of psych-pop oddities and fizzy space-age interpretations of jazz standards that are informed in equal parts by Larry Heard’s breezy dream sceneries, LSD blotted Americana and kaleidoscopic ’60s pop. Bobbie went to Taos, New Mexico in 2020 to live communally with a small group of musicians as the lockdown stretched on for months. Retreating into an unfinished Earthship, she passed the days writing and recording music, with nothing more than a laptop microphone and a few instruments. At once surreal, timeless and extraterrestrial, On The Wind can be heard as a hallucinatory sonic love letter to Taos.

        TRACK LISTING

        1. Organic Orange
        2. Watching From A Window
        3. Desert Air
        4. Eat The Apple Before It Falls
        5. Fly Me To The Moon
        6. Into Blue
        7. Sun Star & Moon
        8. Road For A Moment
        9. Inner Sea
        10. Two Faces In The Castle
        11. Interlude
        12. Doses
        13. Reincarnation Of A Lovebird
        14. Why'd It Gotta Take So Long?
        15. Misty

        Real Estate

        Real Estate - 2022 Repress

          Real Estate waft in on vibes of hazy summers past. The New Jersey quartet of Martin Courtney IV, Matthew Mondanile III, Etienne Pierre Duguay and Alex Bleeker cut the sleeves short and the pop smooth to shade you from the midday heat. Every song works its way to that part of your consciousness that revelled in the fleeting waves of freedom that eked in once classes broke and the sun lingered a little longer over suburban roofs. And with three quarters of the band holding down Garden State roots its no surprise that a bit of Jersey indie-pop heritage sneaks its way into their sound, lifting the most sun streaked moments from The Feelies and Yo La Tengo and filtering them through the kaleidoscope of memories aimless drives through parched neighbourhood streets. Martin Courtney's songwriting has a way of wrapping up the immediacy of youth with the ennui of age for the perfect shade of bittersweet bliss, mind you though, much heavier on the sweet than the bitter. Add to this Mondanile's (Ducktails/ Predator Vision) shimmering guitar strains full of equal parts sea foam and beer foam, pepper in the boardwalk clatter of Duguay's drums Bleeker's staccato low end and the perfect afternoon is just a lawn chair and boom box away.

          STAFF COMMENTS

          Darryl says: An awesome debut, mellow, hazy and beautiful.

          Laura says: This would've been in by Top 20 Albums Of The Year if it had arrived in time. It missed out by a week!

          TRACK LISTING

          1. Beach Comber
          2. Pool Swimmers
          3. Suburban Dogs
          4. Black Lake
          5. Atlantic City
          6. Fake Blues
          7. Green River
          8. Suburban Beverage
          9. Lets Rock The Beach
          10. Snow Days

          Kevin Morby

          Still Life - 2022 Reissue

            Still Life is the second solo album from Kevin Morby. The namesake of the record is an art piece by Maynard Monrow entitled “Still Life with the Rejects from the Land of Misfit Toys.” The album’s title has several meanings. On the surface, it refers to Morby’s change in lifestyle that came with moving to Los Angeles from New York in August of 2013. But he also admits that the title is ironic. The songs from Still Life were written during yet another period of tour and travel for Morby, as he spent almost all of 2013 on the road with Woods (with whom Morby parted ways amicably last year), The Babies (who are currently on hiatus) and as a solo artist. The album reflects both this time in transit and the quiet confines of his new home in Montecito Heights. Scenes of performers, audience expectations and the paradoxical confines of a roving individual perpetually caught in a crowd percolate the songs, notably in “The Jester, The Tramp & The Acrobat,” and “Parade.” (Morby calls the latter an elegy of sorts for one of his major influences, Lou Reed.) Violent fates, wrestling with destiny and the nature of death creep into songs like “The Ballad of Arlo Jones,” “Bloodsucker” and “Amen.” Even Morby’s more obvious love songs like “All of My Life,” “Drowning” and “Our Moon” are highly bittersweet; the characters seem to never quite find each other, but perhaps they find themselves. As with Harlem River, Still Life is produced by Rob Barbato (Cass McCombs, Darker My Love) who adds his signature guitar and bass playing to the album. The album was engineered and mixed by Drew Fischer, who also worked on Harlem River and The Babies’ second full-length album Our House on the Hill, and recorded between March and June of 2014 at Barbato and Fischer’s new studio, Comp’ny. Morby is also once again joined by Justin Sullivan (The Babies) on drums and percussion. Sullivan is a fixture in Morby’s live band, which completed a full US tour in January of 2014, supporting Cate Le Bon. Solo artist (and Le Bon guitarist) H. Hawkline handled bass duties for Morby on the tour and contributes bass to three songs on the record that were a live staple. Multi-instrumentalist Will Canzoneri (Le Bon, Cass McCombs, Jessica Pratt), who also performed live with Morby on the tour and who was a contributor on Harlem River, performs piano and organ on the album.

            Woods

            Reflections Vol. 1 (Bumble Bee Crown King)

              With no touring in 2020, and possibly this year, Woods decided to take a deep dive into their archives and put together the first volume of their much discussed archival series, Reflections. Featuring rare and unreleased recordings from 2009 - 2013, including a ghost town desert jam off the side of the highway, their first live performance in Big Sur, the first recorded version of “Bend Beyond” and some shelved diamonds in the rough that were finished up during quarantine. Their hope is that it plays like a “lost record” from an extremely strange and fruitful period in Woods history.

              STAFF COMMENTS

              Barry says: It's always a testament to the strength of a band's output when they can release a compilation of previously unhears recordings and have them be every bit as good as the ones comercially released. This is definitely the case with 'Reflections..' and brilliantly highlights the depth of talent and wealth of skill Woods have. Superb.

              TRACK LISTING

              1. Bumble Bee Crown King
              2. Midnight Moment
              3. Be Kind My Love
              4. Skull
              5. Party In The Pines
              6. Space And Time
              7. Ballad Of Jim Jones
              8. Bend Beyond (First Version)

              Hurt Valley

              Glacial Place

                During a trip to Death Valley, California in 2010, two friends decided to drive an old Saturn station wagon down a four wheel drive road into the wilderness. After a few hours of driving through the canyons, ever so slowly so not to bottom out the car, they came upon a clearing. It was filled with burned out vehicle carcasses and double wide trailers that had all been shot at, set on fire, vandalized, and finally left to become relics of the desert. It was surreal in the sunset of painted rocks and dead silence. Upon returning home to an A-frame house in Sugarloaf California, Brian Collins started Hurt Valley as a recording project. Many ideas and songs were fleshed out next to a wood burning stove and firelight. Fast forward a few more years, and with a relocation to Los Angeles in 2014, Hurt Valley became a routinely worked on project. What happened next, along with the comings and goings of many different friends and neighbors, was the recording of a series of songs over the course of a few years. Days, nights and weekends, and anytime in between, songs were crafted and recorded in a living room, in an apartment, in Los Angeles. This is what would become Glacial Pace, an album that is part memoir, part dream, part feeling—good, bad, and in between

                Woods

                City Sun Eater In The River Of Light

                "Woods have always been experts at distilling life epiphanies into compact chunks of psychedelic folk that exists just outside of any sort of tangible time or place. Maybe those epiphanies were buried under cassette manipulation or drum-and-drone freakouts, or maybe they were cloaked in Jeremy Earl’s lilting falsetto, but over the course of an impressive eight albums, Woods refined and drilled down their sound into City Sun Eater in the River of Light, their ninth LP and second recorded in a proper studio. It’s a dense record of rippling guitar, lush horns, and seductive, bustling anxiety about the state of the world. It’s still the Woods you recognize, only now they’re dabbling in zonked out Ethiopian jazz, pulling influence from the low key simmer of Brown Rice, and tapping into the weird dichotomy of making a home in a claustrophobic city that feels full of possibility even as it closes in on you. City Sun Eater in the River of Light is concise, powerful, anxious - barreling headlong into an uncertain, constantly shifting new world." - Sam Hockley-Smith.

                STAFF COMMENTS

                Andy says: Woods' second album in a proper studio continues where "With Light.." left off with superb tunes, cool grooves (now funky and even jazzy) and their usual mellow 60's vibe. There's also a tangible reggae flavour here, which is a tasty addition to their template (all things transcendent) whilst The Song is still, of course, king. Really good record!

                TRACK LISTING

                1. Sun City Creeps
                2. Creature Comfort
                3. Morning Light
                4. Can't See At All
                5. Hang It On Your Wall
                6. The Take
                7. I See In The Dark
                8. Politics Of Free
                9. The Other Side
                10. Hollow Home

                “Kyle Field, professionally known as Little Wings, is a living legend. He is the modern embodiment of the traveling bard and the singing troubadour. Kyle’s discography is vast and impressive, full of tunes plucked from the lexicon of great American songwriting. On his latest effort, Explains, he crafts melodies so haunting and familiar, it’s as if he’s not composing them at all. He is tapping into something greater, acting as a vessel for the collective unconscious that is folk music.

                “This is an album that is immediately accessible and also unfolds slowly, revealing greater depth with each listen. Kyle’s lyrics are direct yet poetic, funny yet sad. Explains is a fantastic record that celebrates the enduring spirit of a great artist. Its release on Woodsist is all too fitting - a label whose very foundation seems based on lasting creative integrity.”  - Alex Bleeker.

                TRACK LISTING

                1. By Now
                2. Light Brang
                3. Fat Chance
                4. Hill Hidden Nog
                5. Old Apocalypse Style
                6. A Blade Of Grass
                7. A Sky
                8. Around This World
                9. Hollowed Log
                10. This Evening
                11. Where

                Kevin Morby

                Still Life

                  Still Life is the second solo album from Kevin Morby. The namesake of the record is an art piece by Maynard Monrow entitled “Still Life with the Rejects from the Land of Misfit Toys.” The album’s title has several meanings. On the surface, it refers to Morby’s change in lifestyle that came with moving to Los Angeles from New York in August of 2013. But he also admits that the title is ironic. The songs from Still Life were written during yet another period of tour and travel for Morby, as he spent almost all of 2013 on the road with Woods (with whom Morby parted ways amicably last year), The Babies (who are currently on hiatus) and as a solo artist.

                  The album reflects both this time in transit and the quiet confines of his new home in Montecito Heights. Scenes of performers, audience expectations and the paradoxical confines of a roving individual perpetually caught in a crowd percolate the songs, notably in “The Jester, The Tramp & The Acrobat,” and “Parade.” (Morby calls the latter an elegy of sorts for one of his major influences, Lou Reed.) Violent fates, wrestling with destiny and the nature of death creep into songs like “The Ballad of Arlo Jones,” “Bloodsucker” and “Amen.” Even Morby’s more obvious love songs like “All of My Life,” “Drowning” and “Our Moon” are highly bittersweet; the characters seem to never quite find each other, but perhaps they find themselves.

                  As with Harlem River, Still Life is produced by Rob Barbato (Cass McCombs, Darker My Love) who adds his signature guitar and bass playing to the album. The album was engineered and mixed by Drew Fischer, who also worked on Harlem River and The Babies’ second full-length album Our House on the Hill, and recorded between March and June of 2014 at Barbato and Fischer’s new studio, Comp’ny. Morby is also once again joined by Justin Sullivan (The Babies) on drums and percussion. Sullivan is a fixture in Morby’s live band, which completed a full US tour in January of 2014, supporting Cate Le Bon. Solo artist (and Le Bon guitarist) H. Hawkline handled bass duties for Morby on the tour and contributes bass to three songs on the record that were a live staple. Multi-instrumentalist Will Canzoneri (Le Bon, Cass McCombs, Jessica Pratt), who also performed live with Morby on the tour and who was a contributor on Harlem River, performs piano and organ on the album.

                  “Woods’ brand of pop shamanism has undergone several gradual transformations over their past few albums, but on With Light and With Love, the tinkering reveals an expanded sonic palette that includes singing saw, heavier emphasis on percussion, and a saloon piano that sounds like it was rescued from a flooded basement. Distinct from both the stoned volk of their earliest recordings and the kraut-y dalliances of more recent fare, With Light and With Love showcases a more sophisticated brand of contemporary drug music that owes more to Magical Mystery Tour than motorik.

                  “If you’ve ever thought of Woods as a pop group comprised of weirdos, or a weirdo band that happens to excel at playing pop songs almost in spite of itself, With Light and With Love provides a corrective in the form of songs that show these two elements as natural, inextricable bedfellows. Throughout the album, vocals are frequently emitted through Leslie speakers and guitars perform one-string ragas like Sandy Bull reared on shoegaze and skate videos. With Light and With Love is an album of deeply psychedelic, deeply satisfying songs for a new age of searchers, of Don Juan and Animal Chin alike.” - James Toth.

                  • Features guests Tim Presley (White Fence) on slide guitar and Jonathan Rado (Foxygen) on organ.

                  STAFF COMMENTS

                  Andy says: Woods started life as a collective, running a label, putting on gigs, and releasing home-spun music. Based in Brooklyn but looking West to late 60s /early 70s California, they've arrived here on their sixth album with a rich, hazy, classic vibe, taking in Dylan and The Band, The Byrds, and ‘White Album’ era Beatles . The results are country / folk / psych-tinged gold. With each record Woods have become less ragged, less lo-fi and less experimental, but main man Jeremy Earl has always had a way with heart-rending melodies, and recording, at last, in a proper studio has inspired his best collection yet. There's a groove here, washes of Hammond, pedal-steel and jangling guitars, warming words of hope and longing, perfectly illustrated in the hymn-like “New Light”. But it's the nine minute title track that truly entrances. A freak-out jam and pop song in one, it's an “Eight Miles High” for the 21st century.

                  TRACK LISTING

                  1. Shepherd
                  2. Shining
                  3. With Light And With Love
                  4. Moving To The Left
                  5. New Light
                  6. Leaves Like Glass
                  7. Twin Steps
                  8. Full Moon
                  9. Only The Lonely
                  10. Feather Man

                  “New Jersey-born Alex Bleeker is an old soul. For his sophomore album, How Far Away, he lets that come into play fully. Over eleven tracks, he deals with the autumnal phase of lost love, the point after the grieving subsides and you start figuring out what you’re supposed to do next. As with his last album, Bleeker cobbles together a ragtag collection of ‘freaks,’ including Mountain Man’s Amelia Meath, who provides gorgeously weighty backing vocals on four tracks, Woods’ Jarvis Tanviere, Real Estate’s Jackson Pollis, Big Troubles’ Sam Franklin, among plenty other like-minded musicians who lend sparkling instrumental flourishes and a full-bodied backbone to Bleeker’s pained yowl.

                  “Album opener ‘Don’t Look Down’ feels like a mission statement for the rest of the record. Over upbeat guitar jangle and smooth organ runs, Bleeker’s voice cracks and lilts: ‘Don’t look back on the way we met / Don’t look back at me now / Don’t retract all the things you’ve said / Don’t back out on me.’ In the hands of plenty other songwriters, this would come off as self-pitying, but Bleeker just seems wise.

                  “The key to How Far Away isn’t just Bleeker’s lyrics, which [are] both universal and intensely specific, but also the relaxed dynamics of the players. Bleeker is a jam band fanatic, and he takes the core ethos of The Grateful Dead—let things unfold naturally—and distills it into concise pop songs: tracks like ‘All My Songs’ and ‘Rhythm Shakers’ are brief, but they shift from crystalline guitar to weighty bass effortlessly, with Bleeker working as a heartbroken bandleader, keeping things moving organically. Nothing is hurried, but nothing overstays its welcome either. Though How Far Away is packed with singles, the album works best as a narrative about the dissolution of a relationship. You could call it a breakup record, but that wouldn’t quite be giving it enough credit. Instead, it’s about growing older and figuring out what you need to do to keep moving. It’s never overly sad or angry or obsessed with itself, it’s just true.” —Sam Hockley-Smith

                  STAFF COMMENTS

                  Darryl says: Sophomore album from Real Estate's bassist Alex Bleeker. Whilst recalling the sun-dappled jangle of Real Estate, 'How Far Away' brings us an offbeat selection of songs ranging from delicious heartbroken Americana to ramshackle psychedelia with plenty of concise outright indie-pop inbetween.

                  TRACK LISTING

                  1. Don’t Look Down
                  2. See You On Sunday
                  3. Leave On The Light
                  4. Home I Love
                  5. Time Cloud
                  6. Who Are You Seeing?
                  7. Rhythm Shakers
                  8. All My Songs
                  9. Steve’s Theme
                  10. Step Right Up (Pour Yourself Some Wine)
                  11. Love Fadeaway

                  Excepter

                  Late

                    The 23rd Excepter record: The Late EP. The Black Rust Rush Tour of “High Noon” lore. One track recorded at Oberlin Dionysus Disco, Fall 2009, in I-94 palindrome dubby R/N. One track recorded at 382 Jeff Street by Lala with the TR-808. 2009-2010 edit. Two tracks live on “Presidence Day” at the Glass Lands, February 16th, 2010, by Derek Maxwell, sound engineer. The Late EP returns Excepter to Woodsist. All four tracks are previously unreleased. The Tank Tapes are included as a complimentary bonus digital download with the record. Excepter is New York City’s premiere improvisatory, vocal-and-electronics cosmic beat-box band. Whether on stage, on record or on video, Excepter never gives the expected, and this is no exception…

                    Various Artists

                    Welcome Home / Diggin' The Universe - A Woodsist Compilation

                      A scene (of sorts) defining compilation of major proportions, Woodsist has consistently released great record after great record, 2010 in particular has vintage stamped all over it because of the new Woods album, the Moon Duo album, and now this comp snapshots a label in its ascendancy: exclusive tracks from Fresh And Onlys, Woods, Run DMT, Moon Duo, Skygreen Leopards, Nodzzz, Ducktails, Art Museums, City Center, The Mantles, Alex Bleeker, and Cause Co-Motion.

                      'It's true - the sons and daughters of Homestead, Xpressway and first-wave Drag City (et al.) are now making good music. The 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s are all there, bound together by shitty tape machines, reverb and easy chord changes, but melody is back and so is the joy of jamming a perfectly mangled pop song. "Welcome Home" might hit some new kids the way Human Music or Nuggets did back in their day. In any case, it’s one of those rare compilations you can play straight through and over again'. - Glenn Donaldson.

                      Great new album from Woodsist's flagbearers: Woods, and there's a damn fine bio to go with it too... 'The distance between 2007's "At Rear House" and 2010's "At Echo Lake" may at first seem only semantic, but it more properly represents a move from akind of informal back porch jam ethos to a fully-committed vision of the infinite possibilities of group playing. Over the past few years, Woods has established themselves as an anomaly in a world of freaks. They were an odd proposition even in the outré company of vocalist / guitarist / label owner Jeremy Earl's Woodsist roster, perpetually out of time, committed to songsmanship in an age of noise, drone and improvisation, to extended soloing, oblique instrumentals and the usurping use of tapes and F/X in an age of dead-end singer-songwriters. Recent live shows have seen them best confuse the two, playing beautifully constructed songs torn apart by fuzztone jams and odd electronics.

                      "At Echo Lake" feels like a diamond-sharp distillation of the turbulent power of their live shows, in much the same way that The Grateful Dead's "Dark Star" single amplified and engulfed the planetary aspect of their improvised takes. Some of the material here - the opening - "Blood Dries Darker", the euphoric "Mornin' Time" is so lush that lesser brains would've succumbed to the appeal of strings and horns, but "At Echo Lake" is more "Fifth Dimension" than "Notorious Byrd Brothers", nowhere more so than on "From The Horn", a track as beautiful in its assault on form as "Eight Miles High" or Swell Maps' "Midget Submarines". But despite the instrumental innovation the album heralds G. Lucas Cranes psychedelic tape work on "Suffering Season", guest musician Matthew Valentine's harmonica and modified banjo / sitar on "Time Fading Lines", "At Echo Lake" is all about the vocals. Woods' secret weapon is the quality of Earl's voice, absorbing the naïve style of Jad Fair, Jonathan Richman and Neil Young while rethinking it as a discipline and a tradition. Here he is singing at the peak of his powers, in a high soulful style bolstered by heavenly arrangements of backing vocals. "At Echo Lake" feels like the transmission point for teenage garage from the past to the future. Deformed by contemporary experiments, bolstered by magical traditions, it's the sound of now, right here, "At Echo Lake". - David Keenan, Glasgow, March 2010.

                      TRACK LISTING

                      1. Blood Dries Darker
                      2. Pick Up
                      3. Suffering Season
                      4. Time Fading Lines
                      5. From The Horn
                      6. Death Rattles
                      7. Mornin' Time
                      8. I Was Gone
                      9. Get Back
                      10. Deep
                      11. Til The Sun Rips

                      Eat Skull return with a follow-up of sorts to last year's Siltbreeze released debut, "Sick To Death". Three new tracks, "Jerusalem Mall" is a newer Christmas time jingle for these hopeful times. Backed with two "Sick To Death" outtakes unavailable on vinyl till now. Limited edition pressing.

                      STAFF COMMENTS

                      Darryl says: An essential slab of distorted noise scuzz from this Portland, Oregan four piece.


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