Behind a nondescript East Williamsburg tenement at 229 Bushwick Avenue in Brooklyn, NY lies Woods‘ home, recording studio, creative refuge and beloved shithole–Rear House. But after 10 long years the band will say farewell to the former live-in practice space turned ramshackle recording studio, which has also housed bands like Real Estate, Ducktails, The Babies and other members of the Woodsist family. To mark the occasion, Woods are releasing a new single on July 9 featuring a cover of The Kinks’ tune “Gods’ Children,” along with a re-recorded version of “Be All Easy.” “God’s Children” comes from the soundtrack to the 1971 British film Percy, while “Be All Be Easy,” originally from 2011′s Sun and Shade, was re-recorded to capture the live form the song has taken since it’s original release. Both are the first to feature new drummer, Aaron Neveu, formerly of Mmoss.
Woods hits the road next month for a tour that includes stops with Parquet Courts and Alex Bleeker & the Freaks. Full dates below.
[Art by Sean Metcalf]
Greetings friends and fellow travelers. As the year comes to a close, we find ourselves looking back on all the great music that came out of 2012. This year offered much hope for the future, including the emergence of folk singer-songwriter Jessica Pratt; Swedish music collective GOAT; Southern England’s Beaulieu Porch; and new Brooklyn based label Beyond Beyond is Beyond, who brought us the debut album from Prince Rupert’s Drops. This was another exceptional year for new releases and we’re psyched to present to you our picks for the best albums of 2012. Tell us about your favorite albums of 2012 in the comments section below.
After the treacherous week that followed in the wake of hurricane Sandy, Woods returned to Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg to shed a bit of light on their old home place. Temporarily freeing the city from its apocalyptic embrace, Woods once again proved why they are Brooklyn’s preeminent psych folk band. Their new album, Bend Beyond—their seventh in six years—is another step forward for the band with what is surely their most accessible collection of songs yet. But on stage, Woods still embody the creep side of their looser early years with extended noise jams and transcendent improvisational journeys. Listen below to the 15 minute “I Was Gone” from Saturday’s show or download the entire recording from NYC Taper.
Purchase Bend Beyond via Woodsist.
Following the release of their highly impressive new album, Bend Beyond, Woods have dropped the B-side to the sun-soaked album single “Cali in a Cup.” While much of the new album offers a more accessible, brighter side of Woods, “Give Your Light Off” turns toward the dark with a spiritual hymn that recalls early Wailers, while coasting atop a haunting undercurrent of tape effects, heavy-handed acoustic guitar strums and Peter Tosh-style wah licks. Another impressive nugget from the prolific Brooklyn outfit.
Purchase Bend Beyond via Woodsist.
As summer turns to fall, Woods have graced us with the first video from their most-excellent forthcoming album Bend Beyond. Directed by Adarsha Benjamin, the video for “Cali In a Cup” was filmed on Super 8 at and around this year’s Woodsist Festival in Big Sur, CA. Check it out below and catch Woods on tour this fall.
Order Bend Beyond via Woodsist.
Greetings friends! It’s been a somewhat longer than planned time since new words and sounds have graced this page. But fear not, for this playlist holds many of the songs that have been circulating through the listening station of your humble editor of late. As some of you may know, we were graced with the opportunity to head down to Austin Psych Fest this year and discover lots of great new artists. Some of these acts are featured on this playlist including the woodland folk MMOSS, the Tuareg Jimi Hendrix Bombino along with the throwback Texas rockers The Golden Dawn. Lots of great stuff. Thanks to our friend Mike Newman from Beyond Beyond is Beyond for introducing us to the sounds of Foxygen and lots more. And lastly, thanks to the incredibly talented Johanna Andersson for providing this month’s art. Enjoy.
Download Link (right click, save as)
1. The Black Angels – Entrance Song (Rain Dance Version)
2. MMOSS – Kitty Sorrow
3. Bombino – Tar Hani
4. The Brian Jonestown Massacre – The Clouds Are Lies
5. Blues Control – Love’s A Rondo
6. Ween – Buckingham Green
7. Ty Segall & White Fence – Time
8. The Spyrals – Lonely Eyes
9. White Fence – Take Away Life’s Endless Take
10. Woods – Wind Was The Wine
11. MV & EE – Common Ground
12. Kensington Market – I Would Be The One
13. Richard Hell – I’m Your Man
14. Foxygen – Make It Known
15. We All Together – We Live Too Fast
16. The Golden Dawn – This Way Please
Watch Woods explore a lengthy “I Was Gone” from their performance at the Storm King Arts Center in New Windsor, NY on May 6.
As many of you know, the 5th annual Austin Psych Fest took place last weekend with one of the best festival lineups in recent memory. This year’s APF featured over 50 bands from all walks of the psych genre, including Brian Jonestown Massacre, Woods, The Black Angels, The Black Lips, Meat Puppets, Olivia Tremor Control, Golden Dawn, Thee Oh Sees, Wooden Shjips, Dead Meadow and many more.
Set across two adjacent venues—with a courtyard/hippy bazaar between—attendees could easily navigate between the shows to check out at least part each band. Over the course of the weekend, there were lots of familiar names to check out and a few impressive new discoveries as well. Some personal favorites were sets by Tuareg guitarist Bombino (from the same community as the members of Tinariwen), Woods, Sun Araw, MMOSS and Quilt. All in all, the food was good, weather was perfect, and tall boys were only $4.
Below you’ll find a series of AFP videos from some of my favorite performances.
Since their formation in 2005, Woods have continued to build on their unique brand of creepish campfire folk. What began as mostly as a bedroom project for lead singer Jeremy Earl to work on his songwriting has now evolved into a powerful force that helms much of the East Coast psych movement. And with each new release, Woods have, for lack of a better way of putting it, gotten better.
2009′s Songs of Shame brought the group out of Earl’s bedroom and into the light with stellar songwriting on songs like “Rain On” and extended jam cuts like “September with Pete.” Then in 2010 came the impressive At Echo Lake followed by last year’s Sun & Shade (featured on our list of top albums from 2011), which showcased Woods’ best collection of songs to date. That progression has now continued with the release of a new split LP with noisesmiths Amps for Christ, which comes out May 1 on vinyl and April 17 on CD via Shrimper. Two tracks from that collaborative LP have now been made available, and are streaming below. The first, “Wind Was the Wine” falls in line with the campfire creepishness side of the band, while “From Oatmeal to Buttermilk”—a collaborative track with Amps for Christ—showcases the group’s experimental side.
Mp3: “Wind Was the Wine”
[Art by Sean Metcalf]
The following is a list of albums that we found to be particularly engaging this year.
The War on Drugs – Slave Ambient [Secretly Canadian]
After The War on Drugs released their debut LP, Wagonwheel Blues, in 2008, lead Druggie Adam Granduciel retired to his Philly home to experiment with samples and recording techniques. Several years later, that process spawned Slave Ambient, which combines a distinctive blend of psychedelic Americana guitar rock with celestial ambient textures that flow throughout the album in a droning undercurrent. While many bands have struggled to bring their experimental side into the studio setting, The Drugs have done exactly that with Slave Ambient. On tracks like the sprawling ambient outro “The Animator,” this experimental side comes into full view and hints at the complexity involved in the sonic layering within these songs.
“Come To The City”
Woods – Sun & Shade [Woodsist]
With each new release, Woods continue to evolve and impress. As with 2009′s Songs of Shame and 2010′s At Echo Lake, the group continues their trajectory toward a more song-oriented approach on their sixth LP, while still encompassing their creep side through extended jams like the nod to Neu!’s Hallogallo, “Out of the Eye” and spiritual sound quests like “Sol y Sombra.” Lead singer Jeremy Earl’s falsetto tone sounds slightly more polished, however, his Shagg’s style guitar work is still delectably off-kilter. This release shows major step in the group’s songwriting abilities, with many of the songs ranking alongside their best.
“Any Other Day”
Pure X – Pleasure [Acephale]
The debut full length release from Austin’s Pure X has made a profound effect on me throughout the year. You know how, sometimes, upon first hearing an album, it forever reminds you of that period of time? Well, for me, that’s the case with this one and last Winter. I played it endlessly and with each listen I discovered something new. Every one of the stoned-out songs is a sprawling trip through through mimimalist, seemingly-nonexistent melodies that thrive on the textured reverb-drenched squalls of sound as well as singer Nate Grace’s nuanced vocal approach. It’s a listening experience that requires headphones and a ready mind.
Real Estate – Days [Domino]
On Real Estate’s sophomore LP, the New Jersey suburbanites move past the lo fi surf pop heard on their debut, into a territory that is decidedly their own. The combination of dueling guitars blend together like those of Verlaine and Lloyd on many songs like “Easy” and “Green Aisles,” while others show lead singer Martin Courtney’s progression as a songwriter highly capable of evoking images from one’s adolescent years. It’s an album everyone can like, and based on it’s recent success, it seems that most people do.
Quilt – S/T [Mexican Summer]
The debut LP from Boston’s Quilt is a recent discovery that quickly made its mark on my list of favorites. The group dabbles in a wide range of sounds that channel everyone from the Airplane to The Incredible String Band and other west coast 60s psych acts to Raga to British folk influences like The Pentangle and many others. Songs “Rabid Love” and “The Silver Stairs of Ketchikan” even recall a less eerie Woods, taking on a similar minimalist freak folk approach led by the choir-like vocals of Anna Fox Rochinski. The album, produced and engineered by Apollo Sunshine’s Jesse Gallagher, is the result of a series of extended experimental jams and free form songwriting. Many of the songs take on mantra-like form, with repetitive chants and Eastern melodies that guide the listener through dreamy, transcendent sound quests.
“Cowboys In The Void”
White Denim – D [Downtown]
On D, White Denim moves in a more progressive direction. The album’s complex arrangements and near-perfect vocal harmonies showcase the group’s impressive chops and their continually evolving songwriting approach. While D is certainly White Denim’s best effort to date, it only begins to hint at the potential they can still reach.
Gillian Welch – Harrow & The Harvest [Acony]
Gillian Welch and David Rawling’s highly anticipated new release finally made its way to our ears this year, proving that the wait was all worth while. The songs hearken back to a past time, keeping alive a style of music that has seemingly packed up and gone, while still sounding fresh and current.
“The Way It Goes”
Woodsman – Mystic Places [Fire Talk]
On Mystic Places (the only EP to make this list), Woodsman successfully capture their more experimental side with a series of organic, mostly instrumental, tunes that travel through loop-heavy drones and propulsive zoned-out drum beats. Combine all of that with VHS-ripped vocal segments and the group’s nack for kraut-inspired improv and you have one of the finest psych-rock releases of the year.
Twerps – S/T [Underwater Peoples]
The debut full-length release from Melbourne, Austrailia’s Twerps is a welcome extension to the wave of jangly, surf pop flooding onto the scene in recent years. Separating themselves from the pack with the raw, matter-of-fact lead vocals of frontman Marty Frawley, the group channels 80s Flying Nun artists like the Clean, while also nodding to 90s lo fi acts. It’s as though punk sensibilities have combined with those of the pop world to help this seemingly tossed-off effort sound so cohesive and compelling. Most of the album’s warm pop numbers are driven by treble-heavy, Tom Verlaine style guitar riffs and simple, catchy hooks (“Dreaming,” “This Guy,”), while others (“Bring Me Down”) strip all of that away, exposing a far more melancholic side of Twerps’ sound. Both sides come together with the anthemic final track “Coast to Coast,” where Frawley proclaims “The sun’s in my eye, and I’ve never felt so high,” a fair declaration to close out one of 2011’s finest efforts.
Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring For My Halo [Matador]
Smoke Ring for My Halo is Kurt Vile’s fourth and finest LP to date. On this one, the Philadelphia-native steps into a more polished zone, continuing to build upon his unique mix of twangy finger-picked ballads and fuzz-heavy guitar rock anthems.
Yellowbirds – The Color [Royal Potato Family]
The debut solo release from Apollo Sunshine’s Sam Cohen is a highly impressive effort from start to finish. Over the course of 11 tracks, Cohen guides us through a calming psychedelic journey that begins with the very first note of “The Rest of My Life.” Much of the album evokes a throwback 60′s psych sound, but with the addition of an arsenal of effects and an auto-harp, a fresh wave rushes through each song. Cohen’s approach to his solos shines a light on his Berkelee schooling, setting him in place among the top guitarists on the scene today.
“Our Good Days Are Gone”
Colin Stetson – New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges [Constellation]
New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges is the second solo album from Montreal-based saxophone virtuoso Colin Stetson. Using mainly his saxophone, and recording many of the tracks live, Stetson builds lush soundscapes that recall the likes of nothing you’ve ever heard before. While many adventures of this type often come off as failed, free-form sonic experiments, New History is compelling and highly musical throughout.
Sun Araw – Ancient Romans [Drag City / Sun Ark]
Sun Araw’s double LP Ancient Romans, is probably the most accessible grouping of songs in the Los Angeles artist’s cannon. This one isn’t for everyone, but if you can wrap your head around the odd times and complex sound textures that guide this adventure, then you may discover the true genius behind the loop master’s art. Another one that rarely left the vicinity of my turntable this year.
Amen Dunes – Through Donkey Jaw [Sacred Bones]
Through Donkey Jaw is the second full-length release from Damon McMahon’s Amen Dunes project. Meditative, hazy guitar lines and McMahon’s floaty vocals guide the songs through minimalist psych excursions. A highly transcendent listening experience.
Megafaun – S/T [Hometapes]
The fourth full length from Durham, NC’s Megafaun, largely explores the more rugged, American side of the their rural sound. While the self-titled album is largely accessible, it also leans toward their experimental side with tracks like “These Words” and “Serene Return.” One of the year’s most stunningly beautiful releases.
Peaking Lights – 936 [Not Not Fun]
Madison, Wisconsin’s Peaking Lights are a married couple who’s music sounds like Tom Tom Club on a boatload of acid. Infusing dub-style grooves with psychy sounds and effects, 936 is, simply put, a danceable astral adventure.
“All The Sun That Shines”
Tinariwen – Tasilli [Anti-]
Recorded in a remote section of the South Eastern Algerian desert, Tassili, Tinariwen’s fifth studio release, sets a different course than previous efforts. On the long player, the group strips down their sound—trading Stratocasters for acoustics, employing the use of un-amplified percussion—and, for the first time, invites a few notable outsiders to appear. Guests include Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone of TV on the Radio, who ventured to the desert to record with the band, in addition to Wilco guitarist Nels Cline and members of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Returning to the their beginnings, Tassili recreates the origins of Tinariwen’s music—acoustic songs performed by an open fire, much like the refugee camps where they originated.
“Tenere Taqqim Tossam”
Panda Bear – Tomboy [Paw Tracks]
Four years after the release of the Noah Lennox’s groundbreaking album Person Pitch, came the release of the more conventional and structured effort Tomboy. Lennox continues to churn out blissful psychedelia with modern Brian Wilson-style vocal harmonies, although in a more simplistic fashion that shows a progression in his approach to sampling and looping techniques. Deserving of many listens.
Ty Segall – Goodbye Bread [Drag City]
On Goodbye Bread, Ty Segall steps into the singer-songwriter shoes with an album full of Lennon-esque vocals and crashing, fuzzed-out guitar riffs. Another great guitar-rock album from 2011.
“I Can’t Feel It”
Thee Oh Sees – Carrion Crawler/The Dream [In the Red]
At this point I’m pretty tired of writing about albums, but this one happens to be my favorite garage rock album, in a large sea of them, to come out of 2011. Let’s leave it at that.
Best New Release From The Past:
The Beach Boys – The Smile Sessions
Best Live Releases:
Miles Davis – The Bootleg Series, Volume 1: Live in Europe 1967
Grateful Dead – Europe 72 Vol. II
Phish – Hampton/Winston-Salem ’97
Frank Zappa – Live at Carnegie Hall
The Paperhead – S/T
Middle Brother – S/T
The Barr Brothers – S/T [featured on last year's list]
The Feelies – Here Before
Wilco – The Whole Love
Bonnie Prince Billy – Wolfroy Goes To Town
MV & EE – Country Stash
Bon Iver – S/T
Beyondo – Free The Twin
Ducktails – Aracade Dynamics III
Stephen Malkmus- Mirror Traffic
Oneohtrix Point Never – Replica
Julian Lynch – Terra
Rangers – Pan Am Stories
Wooden Shjips – West
It’s that time of year when Holiday music is nearly inescapable. But it seems it’s been a long time since one of our favorite artists did a spin on one of these holiday classics. This year, Woods would like to wish you a Merry Christmas with this creepy take on Vince Guaraldi’s classic “Christmas Time Is Here” off the timeless A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack. Enjoy, and happy holidays.
Just days after Crosby and Nash performed a set of unamplified acoustic tunes at Occupy Wall Street, I thought it fitting to revisit a cover of one of the tunes the legendary duo performed. Woods’ cover of “Military Madness,” the opening cut from Graham Nash’s often overlooked 1971 solo debut Songs for Beginners, is an example of a band breathing new life into an otherwise forgotten song, making it relevant and meaningful to a whole new generation. While the cover stays mostly true to the original, lead singer Jeremy Earl’s haunting falsetto croon brings new life to the song’s words with Woods’ trademark eeriness lurking in the shadows. Woods’ cover of “Military Madness” comes off their 2009 release Songs of Shame, which you can purchase via Woodsist.
Woods have just announced a series of December tour dates. Kicking off in Burlington on December 7, the band will be on the road for the better part of the month joined for parts of the tour by label mates Jovontaes as well as Wooden Wand and MMOS. Check out the full list of dates below.
WOODS DECEMBER TOUR
Wed-Dec-07 Burlington, VT TBD
Thu-Dec-08 Toronto, ON Horseshoe Tavern
Sat-Dec-10 Chicago, IL Subterranean
Sun-Dec-11 Lexington, KY Cosmic Charlie’s
Mon-Dec-12 Nashville, TN The End
Tue-Dec-13 Birmingham, AL Bottletree
Wed-Dec-14 Athens, GA 40 Watt
Thu-Dec-15 North Carolina Kings Barcade
Fri-Dec-16 Richmond, VA Strange Matter
Sat-Dec-17 Washington, DC Rock & Roll Hotel
Sun-Dec-18 Baltimore, MD Ottobar
12/11 – 12/14 with Jovontaes
12/11 also with Wooden Wand
12/15 – 12/18 with MMOSS
[Photo by John Ruscher]
In the spring of 1968, when Bill Graham’s Fillmore East opened its doors in the East Village of Manhattan, a man named Joshua White was chosen as one of the resident visual artists to conduct liquid light shows behind the venue’s musical acts. White and his team became known as the Joshua Light Show, going on to collaborate with artists such as Frank Zappa, the Grateful Dead, The Who, Jefferson Airplane and Jimi Hendrix. Since then, they have continued to operate, only after the closing of the Fillmore and a shift from the ’60s counterculture, their focus turned more toward television, museum and classical exhibits.
But in recent years, psychedelic visual effects have seemingly found their way back to the musical stage. Video projection artists are now commonplace at DIY venues, and, for many bands, light shows and visual effects are an integral part of their performance.
So it’s not surprising that Mr. White and his team have also found their way back into certain corners of the musical world, even if these are extremely seldom occurrences. In 2009, the Joshua Light Show resurfaced for a rare collaborative performance with indie legends Yo La Tengo at New York’s Roseland Ballroom, and then in 2010 declared a four night residency at the Abrons Arts Center in the Lower East Side with different artists each night (one early and one late show. Fillmore style).
On the second of these nights, Brooklyn psych folk outfit Woods performed the late set with the Light Show’s swirling meld of color behind them. NYC taper was on hand to capture an excellent recording of the show, which has since become one of the more sought after tapes in the Woods live catalog. Fueled by the energy of the light show, the band stretched out their songs even further on this night, offering good reason as to why they had been chosen for this rare show by the legendary Joshua Light Show. Below, listen to two of the songs from the show or head to NYC Taper’s site to download the full performance.
Download Link: Woods 2010-05-13 Abrons Arts Center, New York, NY
[Art by Jeremy Earl]
A few weeks ago, we shared a 15 minute Woods jam from their August 13 performance at Bowery Ballroom in NYC. Today, we have three videos from that show for your viewing pleasure, courtesy of Ian Perlman. This was one of the more powerful performances I have seen this year, and, for those who were unable to attend (which I assume is most of you), these videos help to capture the energy that Woods brought to the stage that night.
For the past week, Woods and Kurt Vile have been on tour together in Europe. At each of these shows, a limited Woodsist 7″ is being sold containing a new song from both Mr. Vile and Woods. Over at Pitchfork, you can listen to a song off Woods’ half of that 7″ called “Skull,” which is also the name of singer/guitarist Jeremy Earl’s art book. Click here to listen to “Skull.” Also, check out a song off Vile’s half of the EP called “In/Out Blues” via Disco Naivete.
For the past week, Woods and Kurt Vile have been on tour together in Europe. At each of these shows, a limited Woodsist 7″ is being sold containing a new song from both Mr. Vile and Woods. Over at Pitchfork, you can listen to a song off Woods’ half of that 7″ called “Skull,” which is also the name of singer/guitarist Jeremy Earl’s art book.
Click here to listen to “Skull.”
Also, check out a song off Vile’s half of the EP called “In/Out Blues” via Disco Naivete.
[Photo by Marianne Ventrice]
A couple weeks back, Woods made their way across the bridge for a Woodsist family gathering at NYC’s Bowery Ballroom. The highlight of the night came during a 15 minute jam tucked into the dark psych drones of “Bend Beyond” with Matt Mondanile (Real Estate/Ducktails) sitting in on drums. Here’s the recording, captured by NYC Taper.
MP3: “Bend Beyond”
Head over to NYC Taper to download the entire show.
It was two years ago today that I launched this blog. To celebrate, I’ve assembled a playlist featuring some jams that I’ve been listening to lately. Thanks to everyone for reading and supporting the blog!
2. The Slip – Broke the Promised Land (7.14.11)
3. Phish – Tweezer (6.29.94)
4. Grateful Dead – Playin’ in the Band [excerpt] (5.13.73)
5. Woods – To Have in the Home (6.17.11)
6. Phish – Storage Jam [excerpt] (7.2.11)
7. Phish – Piper (10.2.99)
8. Grateful Dead – Mountains of the Moon > Dark Star (2.22.69)
[Psych art by Max Capacity]
Just months after dropping what is arguably the album of the year, Brooklyn psych rock quartet Woods will release a new 7″ on July 19 via Sacred Bones. I’ve been sitting on one of the two tracks, “Find Them Empty,” for a week or so and I’m sorry for not sharing it sooner. The heady mix of jangley lo fi fuzz and cool sun bleached harmonies are the signature sounds we’ve come to know and love from this band. You can check out the song below, and if you haven’t already I suggest you pick up their new LP Sun & Shade.
Earlier today, the folks at Pitchfork shared a new song off of Woods’ upcoming LP Sun & Shade. The highly anticipated new album from the Brooklyn psych rockers comes out June 14 on their very own Woodsist label. You can stream “Out of the Eye” over at Pfork, and also check out another song off the LP below. If “Out of the Eye” doesn’t remind you of Neu’s “Hallogallo,” then I don’t know what will.
Also, check out my recent interview with Alex Bleeker of Real Estate where he discusses his new theatrical collaboration with G. Lucas Crane of Woods.