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WOODSIST

Kevin Morby

Harlem River Dub (Peaking Lights Remix)

    I wanted to do something to honor the title track off of my debut album, Harlem River, turning five years old this year. Its been very good to me over the past half decade as well as a staple in my live show. I’ve asked Aaron [Coyes] from Peaking Lights to breath some new life into it and give it a remix and I’m very happy with the results. This December I will be performing an hour long version of the song featuring many special guests. I wrote the song to be about new explorations, and it continues to give me—year after year—just that.” —Kevin Morby.

    “Wisdom comes with age, so it’s no surprise that Woods have grown more sage in the twelve years since they formed, expanding from sylvan drum circles into increasingly elaborate, transcendent psychedelia.” - Pitchfork.

    “We walked down streets and crammed onto trains, our faces masks of fear. Unsure how to react, we, collectively, did not react. We grieved for a country and an ideal we never thought would die. We grieved for a loss of certainty.

    We argued about what we thought would happen. We preached understanding. We advocated for anger. Some people said that we’d at least get some incredible art, other people said that was a small view of a world we were quickly realizing we’d misunderstood. Everyone was right. Everyone was wrong. Art made in precarious times matters as much as we let it matter.

    But what are we looking for from the art we enjoy? Escapism? A reckoning with harsh reality? A temporary shared hallucination? Music can heal because it presents the pain of being human as universal.

    Love Is Love was written and recorded in the two months immediately following the election, but it’s not a record borne entirely of angry, knee-jerk reaction to what America is becoming. Instead, it’s a meditation on love, and on what life means now. Taking cues from last year’s City Sun Eater In The River Of Light, it feels very much like a record made from living, shoulder to shoulder, in a major city: weaving psychedelic swirls of guitar between languid horns reminiscent of the best Ethiopian jazz—Love is Love is a distinctly New York record. It is a document of protest in uncertain times and an open-hearted rejection of cynicism in favor of emotional honesty. It is bright, and then, unexpectedly, a little dark sometimes too.

    There will be parts of life where we will watch as events unfold and we will feel helpless. We will not be sure of the future. On good days, we’ll have each other. On the bad ones, we’ll turn to the art that helps us feel something. Love is Love is a document of the new world we live in, proof that light can come from despair and hope is still possible. We just need a little help remembering it exists.” - Sam Hockley-Smith.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Andy says: Woods sound like a long-lost 60's counter-culture psych pop jam band, but importantly with beautiful tunes to match the grooves! On this record main man Jeremy Earl brings those hitherto rose-tinted vibes right into the real, right into the now, and as a result connects like never before. Immense!

    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!

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Deluxe LP Info: Deluxe Gatefold LP jacket includes digital download.

    Deluxe LP includes MP3 Download Code.

    “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.

    Days of Being Wild was recorded over the course of six weeks in the summer of 2013 with Paul Oldham in a small detached shed in Los Angeles. The album art features original drawings by Max Markowitz.

    “I had worked with Paul on the last record I did, 2013’s Double Exposure, and I was lucky because he decided to move to LA right after that record was finished. My friend Brian Cosgrove has this house in the Echo Park hills, kind of a punk house where everyone who lives in it plays in bands. It’s got a front porch with a refrigerator on it and it’s got a one room shed in the back where bands rehearse. A lot of bands have rehearsed there over the years. Paul and I started meeting there over the summer and I would buy Paul beer. We drank whiskey on the first day, but I think we both got too drunk to do anything productive - well, at least I did, Paul’s from Kentucky, so he has an even higher threshold-so we switched to beer and things went smoothly from then on. I played most of the instruments, Paul played bass, and my friend David Kitz joined in on drums for two of the harder songs. Paul told me some great stories about all of the musicians he’s worked with over the years. He even told me the secret to I See a Darkness - Bunny Wailer’s ‘Blackheart Man.’ Supposedly he and Will were listening to that a lot when they made that record - one of my favorites. So, I started listening to it myself. It’s fantastic. “When I wrote these songs I was trying to do something that felt more social, something that reached out a little bit more to other people and that’s why there are more drums on it. People like to rock! I also wanted to use more electric guitar. I was listening to the radio a lot at this time. I was really sick of my record collection and I started listening to the classic rock stations and for the first time I really started enjoying that music - Led Zeppelin, Tom Petty, The Cars, Fleetwood Mac - I was really feeling that stuff. My friend Eric Deines told me that some of the songs feel like ‘super-minimal, outsider transmissions of “Jesse’s Girl”’ and I kind of like that. Todd Ledford from Olde English Spelling Bee was also very helpful after the recording was done. He was the first person I sent these songs to and he gave me a lot of good advice about mixing and recording and life. He thinks there are a few potential hits on this album … but which ones? I guess we’ll have to watch the Billboard charts to find out.” - Matt Kivel.

    The Skygreen Leopards’ latest outing continues the group’s tradition of skewed sunshine pop with lyrics focused on the bummer side of the eternal rock ’n’ roll summer. Donovan Quinn (New Bums) and Glenn Donaldson sing and strum tales of real and imaginary companions, delivering impressionistic rants about losing love, getting high or feeling uncomfortable. They record and mix straight off a nice tape machine run by Jason Quever of Papercuts (who also plays in the band sometimes, along with Jasmyn Wong and Nick Marcantonio) and resist the temptation to use digital erasers, preferring to leave in the mistakes and rough edges.

    For those who have followed Skygreen Leopards since the psych CDR boom, came on board after their gnarled country opus Disciples of California, or are a newcomers to the Skygreen’s jangling world, Family Crimes is the perfect expression of their patented brand of blemished pop.

    “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.

    “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.

    “For their seventh album, Bend Beyond, Woods got dark. It’s not that they weren’t dark before—when you really get in there and listen, Jeremy Earl is singing about some heavy stuff, but it’s hidden under his gorgeous falsetto and sometimes obtuse lyrics. On Bend Beyond, though, Earl and company fully embrace that darkness.

    Album opener ‘Bend Beyond’ has long been a jammy live staple, but here it’s compact and tight with a stuttered guitar line and a world-ending collision of instruments. Meanwhile ‘Is It Honest’ jangles along happily until you notice Earl is in a more destructive zone than the bright music initially suggests, singing ‘It’s so fucking hard to see’ as both a form of comfort and an act of despair.

    Instrumentally, Bend Beyond is certainly the most full Woods record yet; guitars weave and bubble across peppy drumming, but lyrically Earl is at his most direct and spare. While previous albums sounded like they went directly from Earl’s brain to tape with minimal outside interference, Bend Beyond is lush and full-bodied, the work of a band in perfect, heavy harmony. Listening to the record as a whole, it feels like the most daring leap Woods has made yet: It captures the band’s live intensity, but keeps the intimate sadness that made them so great in the first place.” - Sam Hockley-Smith.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Darryl says: Another superb album from Woods, and their seventh in total. Beautiful and lush sun-dappled sounds that brings to mind early Neil Young, the Byrds and 'Deserter Songs' period Mercury Rev. Highly recommended!!

    “MV & EE” is slang for zero gravity, and even though they’ve been doing it consistently better since forever, they still want to give you more of their best.

    The DIY wall of sound of 'Space Homestead' was recorded over the course of a year in nine different studios, presenting as clearly as circumstances permit a living idea right here and now of what it is all about. These are sonics in motion, the satiate plural perfect supply of the hunger unusual, the picturesque in sound. Grab a shuttle for your spectra-sound furniture any time in any aeon and dig the volume of their trip.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Darryl says: Another top notch example of beautifully lilting Americana folk from the core duo of MV & EE aka Matt Valentine and Erika Elder. Kick back on the porch and drink in the sounds of 'Space Homestead'.

    'Woods is a two-headed dog asleep on the porch and a butterfly on the windowsill... a Janus, a Gemini and a screen door. The sun won’t fade and the earworms will not leave, but the jams go on too long for the girl in the back who wonders if her friends are at another bar. Still, the ballads always make her cry. Woods is up there relaying the Woods-feel: Folk-rock, fuzz, tambourines, tapes and raw lunch pulled straight from the yard. Pop songs and other things: Sun and Shade.' - Glenn Donaldson.

    'Loose, shuffling and tuneful, the abridged Woods experience sounds more like Wowee Zowee than Workingman’s Dead, but it hits just the right contradictory note of tight arrangements and breathing-room playing to get that back-porch, weird America vibe.' - Pitchfork.


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Darryl says: A superb West Coast psyche pop influenced album with splashes of folkieness and kosmische jamming, the latter particularly evident on the monster 7 minute plus groove laden track "Out Of The Eye". Almost every track on "Sun And Shade" has that warm and familiar 'is this a cover' feel about it, a sure sign of a quality album in my book! The ever reliable and fairly prolific Woods having been knocking out lo-fi gems over the past few years, but this is their crowning glory so far.

    "Innings" is the second full-length from garage-pop trio Nodzzz and their first for New York imprint Woodsist. Its simple title is a nod to their origin: songwriting core Anthony Atlas and Sean Paul Presley met playing baseball in Olympia, Washington, and started Nodzzz upon relocating to San Francisco. The album offers fourteen discretely memorable songs in the band's growing idiom-neurotic power-pop antics and jangly, shambolic post-punk-and follows a string of acclaimed records that began with their debut single in 2007, I Don't Wanna (Smoke Marijuana), which jumpstarted San Francisco cult-DIY label Make a Mess Records (subsequent home of similar debut records by Grass Widow, Brilliant Colors, White Fence and more), and was followed by a beloved, albeit short, seventeen-minute selftitled LP and the True to Life single, both on NYC's What's Your Rupture? label.


    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.

    San Francisco’s Moon Duo was formed in 2009 by Sanae Yamada and Ripley Johnson (Wooden Shjips). Inspired initially by the legendary John Coltrane and Rashied Ali, Moon Duo counts such variant groups as Silver Apples, Royal Trux, Moolah, Suicide, and Cluster as touchstones. Utilizing primarily guitar, keyboards, percussion, and vocals, the pair plays space against form to create a primordial and disorienting sonic stew. They released two acclaimed records in 2009: the "Love On The Sea" 12-inch single on Sick Thirst and the "Killing Time" EP on Sacred Bones.

    "Escape", their debut long-player on Woodsist, marks the fullest realization yet of the young group’s evolving sound. 'Moon Duo are the combined forces of Wooden Shjips’ Ripley Johnson and Sanae Yamada, and following a couple of singles this year, they’re releasing a debut full-length on Woodsist in 2010. "Stumbling 22nd St.", a gauzy, lo-fi rock number built on a repetitive riff, goes on for nearly seven minutes and presents a pretty epic introduction to this band'.  - Pitchfork.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Darryl says: Simply awesome, Ripley Johnson of Wooden Shjips fame has done the impossible and bettered his Shjips output. ESSENTIAL!!!

    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.

    Brand new seven song mini album. New album due early 09 on In The Red. 'Blank Dogs are actually singular: It's the insanely prolific one-man Brooklyn-based band of Mr. Blank Dog. We don't know too much about the biography of the guy behind the bedroom new-wave pop/punk and he's usually covering his face with masks or bedspreads, but that's fine. The aura of anonymity allows you to focus on the sounds - and, really, he might be releasing a ton of things, but there's definitely a higher jam to crap ratio. It's like Joy Division vocal lines with the Cure's synth and guitar melodies filtered through ancient submerged keyboards and eroded recording equipment. And that voice? All the feedback in the world can't hide his knack for melody.' – Stereogum.


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