Posts Tagged ‘Woods’

Painted Shrines – “Gone”

Hard to resist this one, with perennial RSTB faves Jeremy Earl and Glenn Donaldson pairing up for a duo that splits the crux of their current outputs — finding a jangle-pop dipped amalgam of the most pastoral fare that inhabits Woods and the more tightly buttoned ‘90s indie that Glenn’s been mining. Like Felt turning in Byrds covers, the work of Painted Shines hits a lot of pressure points around here. Not surerising that the two would find themselves musically entwined, with Glenn’s releases (Art Museums, Skygreen Leopards) finding a home on Woodsist over the years, and some hits at collaboration on their last couple of records. Glenn finds his way into the credits of Sun & Shade while Jeremy pops up in percussion on Glenn’s last LP You Might Be Happy Someday. Seems the back and forth stuck, and the pair decamped to Glenn’s studio in 2018 to record the songs on Heaven and Holy.

The first single “Gone” is a wistful amble through sunny streets with Earl’s voice lending the song his usual bittersweet textures. The song shares a lot of the same heavy sigh signifiers as Glenn’s last LP, finding the Kiwipop pedigree of The Cean and The Verlaines lingering among their more ‘60s saturated jangles. The full record finds its way out March 5th, on Woodsist, naturally. Gonna want to get this one on the list as soon as possible.


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Favorite Albums of 2020

Here’s the year end list. I’m not gonna wax on about how this year was rough, we all know it was a shit year and even more so for artists. It was, however, a great year for recorded music, and I had a hard time not making this list about twice as long to show love for all the albums that lifted me this year. I’ve long been against the whole idea of numbered lists, so once again things are presented in quasi-alphabetical style (I always mess one or two up in creating this, but you get the point). I’ve included Bandcamp embeds where they exist, so if you have the means and find something new, please reach out and support the artists here. Looking forward to 2021 as another year that music makes getting through easier.

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Little Gold – “Rear House”

2020’s full of surprises and this little gem from previously thought defunct Athens band Little Gold is certainly one of them. With Christian DeRoeck (Woods, Meneguar, Shepherds) and the band back at it, this finds them in an introspective mood, kicking at the alt-country crossroads that so many of his peers seem to be finding around the same time. The first cut, “Rear House,” seems like an allusion to his time with the NY crowd, sharing a name with the studio that many in the Woodsist orbit found themselves calling home. With a Jayhawks saunter, the song hits a nice whiskey burn that’s built on bar band looseness and some guitar bite that mows down the melancholy and tears away with the windows locked low. Its easy to see how this was a set of songs that spurred him to get the band outta hock and back to the studio. The new LP lands on Sophomore Lounge November 20th.




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Woods release archival collection Reflections Vol. 1

More Bandcamp goodness today with a new collection of archival material from Woods. Dubbed Reflections Vol. 1 (which bodes well for a volume 2), the comp picks up unreleased tracks, refined demos and live material that showcases the band’s tender folk. The collection includes a track recorded spontaneously on the roadside in the Arizona desert, a previously unreleased live jam from the band’s stint at Party in the Pines, put on by Mexican Summer, and a Brian Jonestown Massacre cover. The material’s quality feels far from b-sides and throwaway tracks, giving the collection the feel of an alternate reality album of Woods tracks that somehow went missing. Check out “Midnight Moment” below which was recorded during the sessions for With Light and With Love and finished this year in their home studio.


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Best of 2020 (so far)

2020’s been a hell of a year, and one that doesn’t feel like definitive statements do it justice. Still, no matter how many seismic changes have occurred during the year, the music has been a source of solace and inspiration. The fact that so many artists have had their livelihoods upended gives it a slightly sour note, especially for some that may have been working years to let these statements out into the world. Keep hitting the Bandcamp revenue shares to support artists and labels directly. If you need some suggestions there’s quite a few below. Keep in mind that ‘best’ is by no means definitive, but these are some of my favorites. We all know that Run The Jewels hits hard, but someone else is gonna tell you about it better than I ever could. Still lots to look forward to musically in the second half, but the first part of the year has been a bounty to be sure.

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Woods

Following 2017’s healing hand that was Love Is Love, Woods return changed, as we all are, but still mining the same mercurial magic that’s always surrounded them. While the last album dealt with finding optimism in the face of crushing disappointment (2016 in a nutshell), Strange To Explain has the benefit, or rather the burden, of having lived in the world a few more years since the bottom fell out. The band spent time growing— nurturing family and the label — and now they return with an album that’s tender, but also bruised. That yearning optimism that surrounded Love Is Love has tempered into a wistful reservation. They’re still looking to spread that love, but Woods seem to understand that it can feel hard to find a foothold on the ladder out of our low points these days. Likewise, despite the inclination there might to lash out, the record lacks the rhythmic turbulence that drove City Sun Eater In The River of Light. In its place there’s a contentedness underlying the album, the feeling that while the outer universe might spin out of control, our own nuclear worlds can still be a center of peace.

There’s some worry too, how could there not be? It melts for the most part, though, under Earl and co’s radiant glow. The band’s been refining their sound for years, and each new album adds a layer of lush comfort that solidifies them as leading their folk peers while constantly existing outside of any established models. Woods and Woodist are inseparable and the community that they’ve built around themselves shimmers through on Strange To Explain. The communal vibes of the label’s namesake festival are threaded through the album. The harmonies hug close. The instruments blend in watercolor coolness.

Don’t let the smooth taste take away the band’s bite, though. The headiness that positions them high atop the list of bands who can knock the hell out of a live set pokes out from under the lacquered veneer. Album closer Weekend Wind, pushes the album out of its sun-in serenity and into a few gnarled grooves that catch the Cosmic Americana wind. “Fell So Hard,” feels like it might lend itself to ten-minute extension once the amps are warm and humming. There are probably few who need an introduction to what Woods are about at this point, but if you need a reminder of why they’ve remained vital this past decade or so, Strange to Explain is more than up to the challenge.




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Woods – “Strange To Explain”

News that Woods has an album on the way was among the best reliefs of the year. The band’s been lying low for a little bit, letting themselves ease into their own lives and focus on the label and festival. With the reveal of the first two singles from Strange to Explain, though, they prove that their time to rest has resulted in one of Woods’ deepest, most endearing records. The band revealed the title track this week and it’s a bittersweet, yearning song that tackles strange feelings of familiarity. The band’s sound is fuller than ever, fleshed out from the early days of their psych-folk sojourns into lush orchestrations that nestle into the greenery of their Upstate environs. Woodist fam and RSTB fave Glenn Donaldson (Skygreen Leopards, The Reds, Pinks and Purples) shows up on background vocals and the whole thing sighs into the summer with an ease I hope is just over the horizon. The record is out May 22nd.



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Woods – “Where Do You Go When You Dream?”

Well I’m sure I’m not the first to tell you about this one, but its not every day that Woods give word of a new record on the way. The band’s been working on this one for a comfortable stretch, coming in as their eleventh album after 2017’s Love Is Love, with only a collaboration with Dungen sneaking in between. Their last was a response to political shift following the upsets of 2016, but now the feelings have had a bit more time to simmer. The first single “Where Do You Go When You Dream?” continues to act as balm, but this is also a decidedly mature and elegiac Woods. The song floats on a breeze of keys, drifting away from some of the sunny strums that have marked their past works. Its a melancholy track, steeped in memory, family, and friendship. Ochre-hued harmonies, full-fleshed production, and Jeremy Earl’s wistful vocals herald an album that moves the band into a new phase of their career with grace and ease. The record is out May 22nd on Woodsist.



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Kyle Forester – “Know What You’re Doing”

On his sophomore LP Kyle Forester (Crystal Stilts, Ladybug Transistor, Woods) finds himself enmeshed in worn-in comfort and cracked bittersweet soul. It’s easy to feel the warmth of the record from the glow of “Know What You’re Doing,” but there’s more at work here than just a hummable melody. The song bends in the breeze, soaks in the late autumn sun, but it also sighs with an aged soul that’s quietly restless. The song has an ache to it that’s hard to shake. For all the auburn shimmers, the song has a lonesome shadow that trails long behind it – tied up with age and doubt.

Despite the melancholy mood, Kyle found the song came naturally, slipping out of his fingers quickly. He muses, “I read this thing one time about how John Lennon’s favorite songs of his own were the ones he wrote in one sitting, like “Across the Universe”. I’m no John Lennon, but I also wrote this song really quickly and it’s probably one of the reasons I feel a lot of fondness for it. I suppose it’s about being surprised by the expectation one feels as a adult to “know what you’re doing”, like just in general. That’s never felt particularly natural to me. Michael O’Neill (Crickets, High Time, MEN) plays what is in my opinion a killer guitar solo in the middle and I’m really proud of the fact that this one has a real “outro”, I really like outros.” His new LP, Hearts In Gardens is out February 21st.


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Modern Nature

Following the unfortunate fallout from Ultimate Painting’s implosion, the band’s Jack Cooper heads inward, which is saying something. His previous outfit had a particular proclivity for introverted indie-pop that felt like it carved a distinct connection with each and every listener. While he’s shying away from the pop aspect of his writing, that core connection and folk formulation remains on Nature. The EP, built on the cavern coolness of purred vocals and bubbling cosmic grooves, gives his work a psychedelic tweak, but its the work of someone spiraling down the depths of the unconscious coil rather than exploring the etchings in the dayglo painted stars above. He’s assembled a crack team to pull off his new vision as well, pulling in members of Woods, Herbcraft, Sunwatchers, and Beak on these four engrossing tracks.

While the propulsion of the title track begs Neu-nerds to come out of the woodwork, the track is self-professed in its allusions to the more experimental bend of ’69 Fairport Convention (in particular “A Sailor’s Life”) and the trend of bucolic English psych-folk toward the creep of drone’s embrace becomes a touchstone for the album. The opening and closing tracks are different visions of the same oasis, with “Supernature” taking the listener much further into the catacombs of consciousness. Elsewhere Cooper explores the sun-licked peace of acoustic thrum on “Flats,” and throws in a cover of the perennially inspiring “Blackwaterside” folk-tale, skipping just Ren Faire aesthetics that lesser artist can cave to and finding the meditative beauty that Jansch and Denny brought to the traditional piece.

Cooper seems to admit that this EP came out of something beyond him, and whether it becomes the beginning of something longer term or just a watershed to tide him through the transition remains to be seen. I’m hoping that he continues down this road, though. The experimental folk badge looks good on him and should the band begin rotating in talent like those assembled so far, it could be a great new chapter in Cooper’s pop cannon.

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