|Woods — With Light and with Love (2014)|
Woods — With Light and with Love
•♦• Underground psychedelic folk-rockers who alternate between pastoral songcraft and otherworldly strangeness.
•♦• “The versatility of Woods becomes more evident throughout the album, as they spread outwards rather than building upward: you get B3-infused soul (“Leaves Like Glass”), breezy psychedelia (“New Light”) and darker shades of American Beauty (“Shining”), giving jamband types, roots fans, folkies, indie kids and DIY fetishists a place to link up. “Breakthrough”, “masterpiece”, “bold leap” — those aren’t words that really seem applicable to With Light and With Love, or Woods for that matter, but they’re allowing themselves to be extremely likable for a larger crowd.” — Ian Cohen
Formed: 2005 in Brooklyn, NY
Location: New York
Album release: April 15, 2014
Record Label: Woodsist Records (WOODSIST072)
01 Shepherd 3:17
02 Shining 2:32
03 With Light and With Love 9:07
04 Moving to the Left 5:23
05 New Light 2:47
06 Leaves Like Glass 3:31
07 Twin Steps 2:35
08 Full Moon 4:07
09 Only the Lonely 3:22
10 Feather Man 2:49
℗ 2014 Woodsist
Similar Albums: Alex Bleeker & the Freaks — How Far Away; Devendra Banhart — Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon; Juan Wauters — NAP: North American Poetry; The Mountain Goats — All Hail West Texas; Kurt Vile — Wakin on a Pretty Daze; The Dodos — Carrier; Cate Le Bon — Me Oh My; Phosphorescent — Here's to Taking It Easy.
•♦• Al Carlson Engineer, Mellotron, Mixing
•♦• John Andrews Musical Saw, Organ, Piano
•♦• Jeremy Earl Bass, Composer, Drums, Guitars: 12 Str., Ac.+El., Percussion, Producer, Vocals
•♦• Terry Willard Earl Photography
•♦• Samara Lubelski Violin
•♦• Aaron Neveu Bass, Drums, Guitar (Acoustic)
•♦• Tim Presley Slide Guitar
•♦• Jonathan Rado Organ
•♦• Timothy Stollenwerk Mastering
•♦• Jarvis Taveniere Bass, Engineer, Guitar (12 Str.), Guitar (El.), Producer
•♦• Vinyl packaged in a deluxe gatefold jacket with printed inner sleeve and digital download coupon.
•♦• "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
Review by Fred Thomas | Score: ****
•♦• 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 (April 14, 2009, ****), though the band was still indulging in side-long jams and noisy sidesteps. Released in 2012, Bend Beyond (September 18, 2012 ****), stood as the clearest document of Woods to date, sounding like a streamlined update to '70s roots rockers like the Band, Dylan, or Neil Young when backed by Crazy Horse at their most ragged. With Light and with Love sharpens the focus even more, expanding the band's sonic toolbox and experimenting with more adventurous arrangements and studio trickery. The album still echoes the dusty country-rock vibrations of '70s FM radio Americana, but tends a little more toward touchstones of '60s psychedelia and sounds from the dawn of acid rock. Vocals pipe out of watery Leslie speakers in a trick borrowed from the Beatles, and the nine-minute-long title track begins with a single-chord groove, raga-styled guitar lines freaking out on top of the mix a la Sandy Bull or the Byrds. As the song stretches out, it dissolves into a space-brained jam of overdriven organs, driving bass, and all types of auxiliary percussion slowly creeping up in the mix. This type of instrumentation is brand new for Woods, who in their earlier days relied more on ghostly reverb than precisely organized instruments to flesh out their songs. More acoustic numbers fit in nicely among the sprawling jams and busier rockers. "Shepherd" is a straightforward slice of sad-eyed country, coming on like Comes a Time-era Neil Young, but soon filled out with honky tonk piano and glowing pedal steel. "Full Moon" borrows lovesick slide guitar leads from Derek & the Dominos. All of the reference points are just window dressing for the core songwriting that makes Woods stand out in their scene of freaky folksters. Without Earl's nasal falsetto singing lyrics of wonderment, wandering, healing, and hope, With Light and with Love would lack the heart that holds together its heightened performances. The album is easily the most solid offering from the Woods camp to date, besting even the production of its incredibly strong predecessor and presenting the songs with even more clarity and interesting choices than ever before.
Artist Biography by Fred Thomas
•♦• Founded as a side project by Meneguar's Jeremy Earl, Woods started as a solitary recording project in 2005. Earl recorded the debut Woods release How to Survive In/In the Woods, a double-cassette that appeared on the Fuckittapes label shortly after the project's inception. The project's acoustic-leaning sounds veered away from the more traditional rock instrumentation of the parent band, and the off-the-cuff, lo-fi recording style cultivated a loose and searching vibe in the early material. In 2007, Woods released a slew of material including the Ram 7", the full-length album At Rear House, and a CD reissue of How to Survive In/In the Woods, this time appearing on Earl's Woodsist label. Woods Family Creeps arrived in 2008 and marked the inclusion of new bandmembers Jarvis Taveniere (also of Meneguar) and G. Lucas Crane.
•♦• The next year's follow-up album, Songs of Shame, was the best received up until that point by the prolific yet still largely underground band, earning tastemaking indie website Pitchfork's Best New Music accolade and exposing the group to new listeners. •♦• Third proper full-length, At Echo Lake, which featured new arrival Kevin Morby on bass, arrived in late spring of 2010 and was followed up a year later with Sun and Shade. Apart from being endlessly prolific, the band's sound was growing from the hushed solo fare of its earliest days into more amplified, roots-leaning rock, placing Earl's high-pitched vocals atop ambling Neil Young & Crazy Horse-esque rave-ups. Drummer Aaron Neveu was added to the live version of Woods, allowing Taveniere to focus solely on guitar instead of the double-duty he'd done on recordings before. Amid a regular touring schedule, the band worked with California outsider circuit-bender Amps for Christ for a collaborative split-LP in 2012, and issued their fifth proper full-length Bend Beyond later that year. The band continued to expand their sound in terms of both recording quality and heightened production with 2014's shinier, fuller sixth LP With Love and with Light.
By Ian Cohen | April 14, 2014 | Score: 7.9
BY PHILIP COSORESON | APRIL 18, 2014 | 6:00AM | Score: C+
By Carey Hodges | April 15, 2014 | 1:11pm | Score: 7.8
•♦• :: http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2014/04/woods-with-light-and-with-love-review.html
WOODS BEND BEYOND (September 18, 2012)
2012 Bend Beyond Top Heatseekers #34
BY ADAM KIVELON | SEPTEMBER 17, 2012 | 1:59 PM | SCORE: B
Essential Tracks: “Lily”, “Is It Honest”, and “Cali in a Cup”
•♦• Underneath the sun-dappled guitar reels, bleary falsetto, and lo-fi hum on Brooklyn trio Woods’ past records, a certain sadness would occasionally surface. Year after year, a new album would show up, replete with pitch-perfect AM pop hooks and crackling, sepia-toned acoustics. At first, the felicitous arrangements would overpower the senses, leading down the garden path to marvel at spring’s bounty. But vocalist Jeremy Earl knew winter would come and if you unpack the poetry of songs like “Suffering Season” (from 2010's At Echo Lake), and you’ll see that Earl’s warbling about the undeniability of pain and loss. Now in their seventh consecutive year of new albums, Woods hit upon some of their clearest depictions of dark emotions on Bend Beyond, while simultaneously offering an escape in the emotive beauty of their music.
•♦• It helps that Earl’s vocals have never been clearer — pushed to the fore rather than filtered by effects or buried in lo-fi haze. The constant tones and intentional enunciation pass him off as a more present Nico, certainly more aware of exactly what he’s singing. Because of that clean delivery, the darker lyrical tones are that much more apparent, more dominant in the mix. They’re still colored by that lilting falsetto, though, a major factor in keeping Bend Beyond from wallowing in its own darkness.
•♦• Even in the purest saccharine pop musical moments, Earl’s noting the fading sun. On the joyous “Cali in a Cup”, harmonica hills and loping bass propel a easy-crooning melody. While the triumphant Simon & Garfunkel melodies sweetly sing about moving past weakness, Earl’s not going to ignore the fact that this is a moment, not an eternity. Our weekends are showered, he says, “with flowers from their graves,” the past and future surrounded in death. This reminder, though, manages to compel a more present sense of self, the urgency to embrace the bright moments when they come.
•♦• Perhaps this, then, is the act of bending beyond. On the title track, a single chord droning verse builds to the importance of seeing and knowing in the chorus. Reveling in experience seems to be the escape from the darkness. The slinky bass and southern gothic acoustic guitars pulse darkly, but the chorus tames them some. The track finds the borders of normalcy, pushes past them into dark, spacy ether, and returns.
•♦• The dark feelings often come in abstract statements of difficulty and anxiety, rather than specific moments of displeasure. This is perfectly summed in the sublime “It Ain’t Easy”, in which Earl laments admitting pain over elegantly plucked acoustic lines and soaring steel counterpoints. “Ain’t it hard to say it ain’t easy?” he twangs, readily admitting that he’s spent time “looking for different ways to make things stay the same.” Again, he’s lost in the fact that the moment cannot be eternal, that instead nothing can always be the same. Similarly, “Is It Honest” talks about how “fucking hard” things can be, even dipping into the primal imagery of how “blood drips from bones.”
•♦• While the bubbling tape effects and shambolic rhythms of the instrumental “Cascade” provide some light escape from the typical formula, the super-fuzzy guitars and trilling organ of “Find Them Empty” provide the first true counterpoint. The ’60s psych crowds the spectrum, more claustrophobic than the typically open air freedom of the album that’s best exemplified on “Back to the Stone”.
•♦• The haunted beauty of “Lily” cements the album’s themes as it winds to a close, its mix of pastoral and drippy, trippy pop elements fusing under rich, nostalgic warmth. A simple pop melody drives the song’s first half, while a drone of multi-layered acoustic strumming and clapping rhythms drives closes. Earl’s thin falsetto sings the melody, and rich baritone moaning provides harmony. The swipes of guitar are clean and constant, but the chopped tape effects drift into nothing. The constant, though, is Earl’s urgent reminder that even the seemingly inconsequential moments will one day be important: “what a wonderful waste/ oh those were the days.” When recalling life’s pains can sound this nice, wallowing just isn’t an option. It’s better to take the lessons of Bend Beyond to heart, and latch onto the beauty that constantly surround even those dark moments.
01 Bend Beyond 4:25
02 Cali in a Cup 3:21
03 Is It Honest? 2:38
04 It Ain't Easy 2:23
05 Cascade 1:55
06 Back to the Stone 2:53
07 Find Them Empty 2:15
08 Wind Was the Wine 1:29
09 Lily 2:09
10 Size Meets the Sound 3:01
11 Impossible Sky 3:02
12 Something Surreal 2:36
•♦• Jeremy Earl 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12
•♦• Jeremy Earl / Jarvis Taveniere 5, 8
•♦• Josh Bonati Cut, Mastering
•♦• G. Lucas Crane Tapes
•♦• Jeremy Earl Composer, Engineer
•♦• Samara Lubelski Violin
•♦• Kevin Morby Bass
•♦• Jarvis Taveniere Composer, Engineer, Mixing
•♦• Matt Valentine Harmonica, Lap Steel Guitar
|Woods — With Light and with Love (2014)|