US - New York - Full Moon 241 - 04/22/16
City Sun Eater in the River of Light
Woods threw a super gig during last year's ØYAfestival (the 'night session' called ØYAnatt, at Rockefeller's John Dee stage - a night they shared the bill with Waxahatchee,
and the first of two visits to Norway last year). Woods' last album was the thrilling With Light And With Love. Their new album is a bit more funky and groovy and proves the Woods to be
a superb, mellow and playful pop band. Once more.
As the bio from Woods' Facebook site goes 'the core sound of Woods will always be Earl's strikingly pure falsetto voice spilling dark secrets and
twisted images...'. True words. Singer-guitarist (as well runner of the Woodsist label) Jeremy Earl (also mandolin, drums, percussion, keyboard, etc.) is the central member along with
long-time member, multi-instrumentalist Jarvis Taveniere. Along with drummer Aaron Neveu (also bass and organ) and keyboardist John Andrews (leaving bassist Chuck Van Dyke as a tour member
only...?), Woods has come up with another fascinating album. Their sunny/shadowy guitar rock follows the path a bit to the left off straightforward, mainstream rock, type Americana with a
twist. They present songs odd enough to 'avoid' massive airplay, yet their songs are indeed catchy and tasty, highly charming and seducing. Simple, basic, laidback and shiny guitar pop melodies
which rise up and fly high. Well written (Earl and Taveniere), well performed (Woods plus some additional players), and well produced (Earl and Taveniere).
The Woods have come a long way from their early recordings of psych-folky 'drum-and-drone freakouts', 'Kraut-rock
inspired fugues and Crazy Horse-style romps', and 'pop and psychedelic meditations', 'slowly' (over nine albums, in eleven years!) making
them 'experts at distilling life epiphanies into compact chunks of psychedelic folk'. City Sun Eater in the River of Light is their
ninth album (and their second record made in a 'proper' studio), and it's said to be 'a dense record of rippling guitar, lush horns, and seductive,
bustling anxiety about the state of the world'. I am not sure (yet) if City Sun Eater... will compete with their last two eminent albums, (my favourite) Bend
Beyond (2012) and With Light and with Love (2014), but you will definitely recognise the 'Woods signature'. No doubt. Even though they are
dabbling in zonked out Ethiopian jazz, pulling influence from the low key simmer of Brown Rice [the 1975 Don Cherry album],
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'.
The album leaps off with the six-minute long, stomping 'title track', "Sun City Creeps". A brave opener, for sure. Nevertheless, it works, as they drag you into their 'world' from the very beginning.
One of the more shiny songs this time is the careful "Morning Light". The Woods for sure know how to write sweet and catchy pop songs with splendid vocals and guitars and marvellous instrumental
garnish (additional players on City Sun Eater... count Jon Catfish Delorme on pedal steel guitar; Alec Spiegelman on flute and saxophone and flute; and Cole Karmen-Green on trumpet),
such as "Can't See At All", "Politics Of Free", and "Hang It On Your Wall", plus the chilling and explosive "The Take" with its fine harmonies, cool horns and raw guitar. The real key tracks
for me are the blistering and shiny "I See In The Dark" and the closing track, the delicate "Hollow Home". Another hypnotizing song is "The Other Side". Hey, Woods, see you on the other side.
I am afraid I can't go see them when they (again) come to visit Oslo. See you on the other side of summer, because this is one of the soundtrack albums of the summer, for sure - for chilling,
relaxation and calming down. I guess they might have made one of the better albums of the year. Once again.
(All quotes: Sam Hockley-Smith / Woodsist.)
Copyright © 2016 Håvard Oppøyen