Plenty of artists have, for better or worse, found inspiration in today’s headlines, much of the resulting music reflecting a dark view on the news of the day. When Woods felt compelled to enter the studio to capture the current mood, the resulting songs were much more optimistic in tone. The mini-album, Love Is Love (stream it below), recorded and released earlier this year, conveys its message in its title track. Taking their evolved sound from last year’s City Sun Eater in the River of Light (stream it below) even further, the new record is awash in pastoral psych-folk amidst upbeat jazz-funk horn fills. Woods (above, performing “Creature Comfort” in studio for KEXP FM) bring the new material and a hefty back catalog of inspired songwriting and spinout jams—and maybe some catharsis—back to The Bowery Ballroom for a Saturday night homecoming. It’ll be a family affair, with John Andrews and the Yawns (plus Cut Worms) opening. —A. Stein | @Neddyo
Tag Archives: Woods
Kevin Morby – The Bowery Ballroom – May 24, 2017
Kevin Morby’s upcoming album, City Music, is an ode to this country’s metropolises, especially New York City. Fulfilling a “dream come true,” he played a packed Bowery Ballroom on Wednesday night, featuring many songs from the new record and filling them with the tangled, contradictory energy of the city. Morby opened with the title track, singing, “Oh that city music, oh that city sound,” two guitars jostling like taxis down an avenue, the music setting the audience in that liminal space between sway and dance before finally kicking into a double-time, double-energy finish that pushed things over the edge. The rest of the show seemed to teeter like this, Morby and the band itself like a city between night and day, romance and stoicism, dreams and reality.
Morby got his start in Woods and it felt appropriate that his band was made up of musicians who either came from other groups or are on their way to solo careers, including Nick Kinsey (Kinsey) on drums, Meg Duffy (Hand Habits) on lead guitar and Cyrus Gengras on bass. Together they were formidable, as equally comfortable creating hypnotic soundscapes as they were unleashing full-on guitar jams. The highlights featured all facets and more, like “Destroyer,” “Harlem River” and “I Have Been to the Mountain,” each opening into a variety of surprises, funky or thoughtful or full-on psychedelic. As inspired as the band was, Morby’s songs stood on their own and “Beautiful Strangers,” played solo “for Manchester,” resonated with every lyric.
I couldn’t have been the only one in the sold-out room who picked up on shades of Bob Dylan and Lou Reed in Morby’s songwriting and voice as he sang songs about New York City, like “Parade” and the album-closing “Downtown’s Lights,” in New York City. So, it was not a surprise, but no less satisfying when he covered a song by each, closing the set solo on a Dylan-birthday tribute of “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here with You” and finishing the three-song encore with a cover of Velvet Underground’s “Rock and Roll.” For the latter, Morby brought out Sam Cohen on third guitar, creating an appropriately city-sized noise to end the night. —A. Stein | @Neddyo
Tags: Aaron Stein, Bob Dylan, Bowery Ballroom, City Music, Cyrus GengrasHand Habits, Kevin Morby, Kinsey, Live Music, Lou Reed, Lower East Side, Meg Duffy, Music, New York City, Nick Kinsey, Review, Sam Cohen, Velvet Underground, Woods
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Ever since amicably parting ways with the War on Drugs, following the band’s tour in support of their debut album, Wagonwheel Blues, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Kurt Vile has made a name for himself with a series of stellar EPs and LPs—that have blossomed from fuzzy, lo-fi affairs into spacious, atmospheric endeavors—done solo and as Kurt Vile and the Violators. Wakin on a Pretty Daze (stream it below), out in 2013, built on his earlier work and became a word-of-mouth hit. And with widespread acclaim, Vile’s most recent full-length, B’lieve I’m Goin Down… (stream it below), made waves among critics and fans alike when it arrived last fall. The Guardian called it a “terrific slow-burner,” and the A.V. Club said it’s “easily Vile’s masterpiece to date…. Kurt Vile loosens up as he continues his astounding roll.” And while Kurt Vile and the Violators (above, performing “Pretty Pimpin”) have earned comparisons to Neil Young and Crazy Horse for their recorded material, it’s probably even more apt for their fiery live performances. Catch one of those terrific performances tomorrow night at Terminal 5. Brooklyn psych-folk outfit Woods and multi-instrumentalist Nathan Bowles open the show.
Tags: Jesse Trbovich, Kurt Vile, Kurt Vile and the Violators, Kyle Spence, Live Music, Music, Nathan Bowles, Neil Young, Neil Young and Crazy Horse New York City, Preview, Rob Laakso, Terminal 5, Video, Wagonwheel Blues, War on Drugs, Woods
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Woods – Music Hall of Williamsburg – May 7, 2016
It felt like two was the number of the night at Music Hall of Williamsburg on Saturday when a stacked bill filled the room with heady tunes for a sold-out crowd. The homemade duo called 75 Dollar Bill opened the show. Stretching just three songs into their 30-minute slot, the two musicians took guitar and percussion to deep places with thrilling blues-raga and trance-out hallucinations that absorbed the murmurs of the early crowd.
Ultimate Painting from London, in the middle slot, embraced their throwback sound, evoking both the Velvet Underground and Brit bands of yore. The set bounced between material from their previous two albums as well as newer songs, gaining strength from the power of two, namely the interplay between guitarists-vocalists Jack Cooper and James Hoare. The vocal harmonies and guitar back and forth brought layers of complexities to the seemingly simple sound. On songs like “Ultimate Painting” and “Central Park Blues,” you could feel a rock and roll explosion bubbling beneath the surface, which finally came in the set-closing “Ten Street” with the band joined by members of Woods. The sound took the additional musicians as fuel, driving the two-drum, two-guitar, sax-and-keys ensemble on a long jam-filled journey that dashed across the surface of multiple sections with a dark “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” energy, Hoare hitting many guitar peaks along the way.
Finally, Woods, home in Brooklyn, played as a six- (and sometimes seven-) piece, but two was still felt in their sound: The band flipping easily between two sides of the same coin, so to speak. Indeed, the dual is-it-a-particle-or-a-wave nature of Woods’ sound was in full effect as they filled their set with contrasting moments of beautiful, rustic folk and vicious, dark psychedelic jamming, a balance few bands since the Grateful Dead of old have had. The performance opened with “Morning Light,” off their acclaimed new album, City Sun Eater in the City of Light, Jeremy Earl’s distinctive falsetto and acoustic guitar countered by Jarvis Taveniere’s slide guitar. The opening section showed off Woods’ prettier side, a guided hike through their musical forest on tunes like “Politics of Free” and “Leaves Like Glass,” off 2014’s With Light and With Love, with its crunch of guitar melody, deliberate rhythms and pensive lyrics. But with a change to electric guitar by Earl and a distinctive change of mood, that hike quickly turned into an off the path, which-way-is-out funked-up mind trip. For “Sun City Creeps” they suddenly had a saxophone-trumpet horn section and a dark, dance-ready, bass-drum groove.
At a couple of moments during the show, the music poured out of one song and into the next as if Woods had heated to the point of evaporation, their vapors no longer contained and flowing into the room. The first of these came out of “Sun City Creeps” and led into “The Take,” a slow burner with an evil hypnotic funk that seemed to stretch on forever, jagged guitar soloing over trippy rhythms. The second occurrence was at the end of the set when the music flowed into the closing “With Light and With Love,” which erupted into a fiery extended jam that found climaxes on top of climaxes. The encore featured a jammy “Moving to the Left” and then Cooper returning to help a surprisingly well-fit cover of Graham Nash’s “Military Madness,” perhaps a statement of some sort or maybe just a song to play, but, in the spirit of the evening, most likely both. —A. Stein | @Neddyo
Tags: 75 Dollar Bill, Aaron Stein, Brooklyn, City Sun Eater in the City of Light, Graham Nash, Grateful Dead, James Hoare, Jarvis Taveniere, Jeremy Earl, Live Music, Music, Music Hall of Williamsburg, New York City, Ultimate Painting, Velvet Underground. Jack Cooper, Williamsburg, With Light and With Love, Woods
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Woods – Rough Trade NYC – June 16, 2015
It was just another mind-bending, sensory-delight Tuesday night at Rough Trade NYC. Quilt got things going with an excellent set centered around new material from their upcoming album. The Boston quartet operated comfortably in that place where Rubber Soul flips over to Revolver, with two-, three- and four-part harmonies infusing a full complement of psychedelic guitar, bass and drums. By the time their set finished, the room was filled and in the proper headspace for the headliners, Woods.
The woods are a great place to hide, so many good spots to disappear and from which to reappear. During their superlative set last night, hometown band Woods showed they had plenty hiding within: at various points there was a folkie singer-songwriter, a full-fledged rock band, an earnest indie and a powerhouse jam band lurking onstage. They opened with a pair of more song-oriented pieces—“Leaves Like Grass” and “Cali in a Cup”—singer Jeremy Earl giving all indie-folk stars a run for their money with his wind-in-the-trees voice and evocative lyricism. A new sound popped out of its hiding spot during “Pushing Onlys” leading to the first of many extended jams. This one featured nebulous, Technicolor zaps of guitar fired across the stage and out into the sold-out crowd.
With eye-melting lights from Drippy Eye Projections it was impossible to decouple the music from the colorful liquid projections. Woods’ jams seemed to trace the curvature of the emulsions, spiraling and bubbling with a hallucinogenic rainbow. These musical excursions took on many flavors: from the milk-in-coffee slow-curling vortices of guitar and organ around bass to the being-chased-down-by-a-cougar gnashing two-guitar rock-out to the full-band space exploration. The set closed with two ragers from last year’s With Light and with Love. “Moving to the Left” embodied everything Woods in just one song, fantastic composition, with a great Jerry Garcia–melodic hook and spasms of groovy rock and stoner psych. The album’s title track closed the set with a multitiered guitar jam equal parts in your face and in your brain. A sweet two-song encore finished the night before Woods sank back into their hiding place until next time. —A. Stein | @Neddyo
Tags: Aaron Stein, Drippy Eye Projections, Jeremy Earl, Jerry Garcia, Live Music, Music, Quilt, Review, Revolver, Rough Trade NYC, Rubber Soul, With Light and With Love, Woods
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Woods – The Bowery Ballroom – May 16, 2014
In recent years, Woods have gone from just a band to the gravitational center of a small musical universe. Other bands sounding like Woods is a thing. And artists having their albums released on Woods’ label or produced by that guy from Woods are things other bands rightly aspire to. Take Quilt—the opening act at The Bowery Ballroom on Friday night—a far-orbiting body, but orbiting nonetheless with its cross section of weird-folk songs and free-floating jams. Performing live, the emphasis was on the latter, with several Grateful Dead–of-the-’60s excursions, democratically elected brain fodder that were long but not too long. Showing off a real tour-tested cohesion, Quilt were in good form, relying heavily on material from their recent Held Up in Splendor album. The final movement of the set was either multiple songs seamlessly stitched together or a far-reaching opus with twists and surprises, trippy spirals, groovy jogs and hairpin turns.
As enjoyable as Quilt were, the sold-out crowd wanted the source, and it was good to see Woods in their element. Drippy Eye Projections provided the show’s visuals with old school liquid light displays bubbling behind the band. The projections had the effect like Woods were playing in some petri dish, part of a Technicolor ooze on the hinge between chemistry and biology. The music shared in the metaphor, natural, organic folk-based songsmith-ing meeting explosive, entropy-building jam outs. For the most part, the show was a live imagining of the excellent new With Light and With Love album. Each song was recognizably Woods at its core, but small variations on the basic theme and evolution in the sound make large changes. The title track was a representative highlight, Jeremy Earl’s unique falsetto vocals setting the mood and then releasing the tension as the band escalated into an ecstatic improv.
Little spacey ambient noodling filled the spaces between numbers: the primordial ooze from which the songs bubbled through, the medium of the goo as important as the shapes and colors moving through it, superlative songs like “Moving to the Left” as enthralling as the jams they set adrift. At one point, Woods introduced their new bassist, Chuck, for whom the packed crowd enthusiastically boogied down and/or attempted to keep their minds from leaving terra firma altogether as the scrambled rainbow colors cascaded over the stage. The encore featured a dedication to their “Vermont friends” (and fellow orbiteers) MV & EE and an excellent cover of Pink Floyd’s “Green Is the Colour,” Jarvis Taveniere playing an earthly 12-string, Woods making it beautifully their own. It was the end of one of those shows that felt, in its glorious reverie, like it might not ever end at all. But, alas, we were finally released from the Woods orbit, but hopefully not for too long. —A. Stein
Tags: Bowery Ballroom, Drippy Eye Projections, Grateful Dead, Held Up in Splendor, Jarvis Taveniere, Jeremy Earl, MV & EE, Pink Floyd, Quilt, Review, With Light and With Love, Woods
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Cate Le Bon – Mercury Lounge – January 16, 2014
Cate Le Bon’s 2014 is off to a solid start. With her fantastic 2013 release, Mug Museum, finding its way onto several year-end best-albums lists (including Bradford Cox’s list), Le Bon’s supporting the album with a string of U.S. shows, many of which are selling out, including last night’s early show at Mercury Lounge. The venue was practically at capacity for the final songs of opening set by Kevin Morby, bassist of the fantastic band Woods.
Unlike many other singer-songwriter Brits, Le Bon’s accent finds its way into her singing voice, adding a certain degree of endearing charm to her airy alto voice floating above her band’s treble-filled syncopated guitar lines. It has traces of Nico’s singing voice with the Velvet Underground, just in a slightly higher register. For those who have ever listened to her recordings and wonder where the high backing vocals come from, it’s not Le Bon’s voice double tracked but the falsetto voices of her all-male backing band. There’s something pretty astounding about watching three guys sing backup harmonies in falsetto.
And it’s all the more astounding considering they can pull it off live while playing other instruments, like on the jaunty guitar riffs carrying out the end of the wonderfully catchy “Are You with Me Now?” The multitalented Le Bon switched between guitar and organ throughout the set. One song even featured a recorder solo (yes, those recorders), after which she made the audience promise not to publish any photographic proof of it because “that’s just not fair.” Le Bon wraps up the remainder of her January with the second half of her U.S. tour before returning to England for a string of shows. So catch her while you can, just make sure not to Instagram any recorder pics.—Dan Rickershauser
Woods – The Bowery Ballroom – July 27, 2013
“Get ready for the harmonica,” said a friend when I told him I’d be seeing Woods at The Bowery Ballroom on Saturday. But bassist Kevin Morby brought out his mounted harmonica only once, as if in a nod to the Newport Folk Fest happening at the same time a few hundred miles away, for the sun-dappled sway of the set opener, “Pushing Onlys.” The rest of the time, the Brooklyn-based psychedelic folkies hypnotized the comfortably packed room with heavy drones and raga freak-outs, the swirling visuals of inkblots and kaleidoscopic geometry behind the stage casting a candy-colored shadow over them.
On record, Woods allow their skillful manipulation of guitar textures and tones to dominate. As with many bands, more often than not the rhythmic section is more of a means to an end than the centerpiece. Live, however, Morby and drummer Aaron Neveu led the proceedings with a relentless thumping and pounding that took the songs off Bend Beyond to the next level. The title track, “Size Meets the Sound” and “Find Them Empty,” in particular, spiraled into trance-inducing jam sessions with enough different noodlings to keep them interesting without losing the propulsive power of the bass and drums. That’s not to say the guitarists colored within the lines: On “Is It Honest?” Jarvis Taveniere thrashed out so hard during a solo that he knocked over his microphone stand, sending it spinning into the audience.
But all good things must come to an end, and after about an hour, Woods finished their set. They came back on after a mercifully brief interlude for a two-song encore, starting with the wistful acoustic number “It Ain’t Easy.” For the final song, they pulled on Real Estate bassist Alex Bleeker, whose band Alex Bleeker and the Freaks served as one of the openers. After some instrumental switches, Bleeker and Woods launched into a fairly faithful cover of “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” with the audience joyfully singing along. —Harley Oliver Brown
Photos courtesy of Peter Senzamici | petersenzamici.com
Tags: Aaron Neveu, Alex Bleeker and the Freaks, Bend Beyond, Bowery Ballroom, Jarvis Taveniere, Kevin Morby, Newport Folk Fest, Photos, Real Estate, Review, Woods
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About eight years ago, singer-guitarist Jeremy Earl began recording a solo project that eventually blossomed into the lo-fi freak-folk Brooklyn band Woods. G. Lucas Crane (tape effects), Kevin Morby (bass) and Jarvis Taveniere (multiple instruments) joined Earl to round out the sound when playing live, and they’ve gone on to release seven acclaimed albums—highlighted by 2009’s Songs of Shame—in seven years, including 2012’s Bend Beyond (stream it below), which was recorded very quickly in order to capture the band’s magnetic live sound. Of course, you can check out their live sound for yourself when—along with Endless Boogie and Alex Bleeker and the Freaks, with trippy visuals provided by Drippy Eye Projections—Woods (above, performing “Bend Beyond” for Windows Have Eyes) play The Bowery Ballroom tomorrow night.
Tags: Alex Bleeker and the Freaks, Bowery Ballroom, Drippy Eye Productions, Endless Boogie, G. Lucas Crane, Jarvis Taveniere, Jeremy Earl, Kevin Morby, Preview, Songs of Shame, Video, Woods
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There were no opening bands on Friday night at Music Hall of Williamsburg, just an amazing self-contained festival on one stage. Woodsist Records packed the bill, and no one was going to miss any of these acts. The balcony tables were secured long before Moon Duo took the stage to deliver their screaming fuzz-guitar and organ jams. It was something of a milestone, bringing these acts together. From the West Coast, San Francisco-based Moon Duo, Sic Alps and the Fresh and Onlys bonded with Brooklyn’s own Woods’ and Real Estate’s sunny vibes. Hearing them all together like this, there’s no doubt they’re all rooted in those ’60s mind-altering sounds, relying heavily on effects and abstract melody.
Sic Alps, which just recently opened for Pavement and Sonic Youth, brought heavy guitar experimentation to the table, drawing out their hazy blues into laid-back explorations in scuzzy feedback. Whatever song structure they originally had was abandoned, and they repeatedly broke them down with ear-splitting volume. Up next, the Fresh and Onlys took a traditional garage-pop approach to the swirl of effects, favoring a catchy melody over an extended jam. Tim Cohen, a friendly flannel frontman, cracked jokes and led the four-piece in tracks off their self-titled release, which leans toward a dense, smooth harmony-laden good time.
Woods played with their trademark blend of high falsetto and the mysterious technical wizardry of G. Lucas Crane. They were taking obvious pleasure in teasing out the tracks into oblivion and reeling them back again long into the night. Finally, Real Estate, with themes of nostalgia for the Jersey Shore, was completely at home onstage before a packed audience. Matt Mondanile and Martin Courtney on guitar, playing off each other’s surf-inspired melodies, was the key to Real Estate’s lighthearted summer jams, with rivers and beaches making their way into the lyrics if you weren’t already staring into the sun. The band left the satisfied crowd to walk out into the humid night, with a comfortable dream-pop soundtrack for those slow 8 mm films of the boardwalk, the jerky home movies of friends running into the surf under the blinking lights of a run-down casino. —Jason Dean
Get ready for a flurry of indie rock in Brooklyn this weekend because The L Magazine’s second annual Northside Festival, today through Sunday, brings more than 100 bands to Greenpoint and Williamsburg. Of course you know The Bowery Presents is gonna get in on that, beginning tonight at Music Hall of Williamsburg with Thao and Mira with the Most of All and These United States. Tomorrow brings the Woodsist Records Showcase featuring Real Estate and Woods to Music Hall of Williamsburg while Brooklyn Bowl hosts the Fiery Furnaces (below, playing “Keep Me in the Dark” for Seattle’s KEXP), who will also be at Mercury Lounge the next night. On Saturday, Music Hall plays host to a Brooklyn Vegan showcase, with Memory Tapes, Twin Sister, Dom and ZAZA on hand. And, finally, close out this festival in style on Sunday when Islands hits Music Hall of Williamsburg.
Tags: Brooklyn Bowl, Brooklyn Vegan, Dom, Fiery Furnaces, Memory Tapes, Mercury Lounge, Music Hall of Williamsburg, Preview, Real Estate, Thao and Mira with the Most of All, The L Magazine, These United States, Twin Sister, Video, Woods, ZAZA
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Woods – Music Hall of Williamsburg – March 12, 2010
How often do you stop to think about bands like Woods and Real Estate being from our backyard, here in Brooklyn? They’re waking up late, buying coffee at the corner deli, doing their laundry and playing the Music Hall of Williamsburg at night. It goes far beyond the slightly-cheaper-than-Manhattan rents: The sheer amount of talent in one place attracts a huge number of musicians who struggle to be half as successful as Woods. And this press-shy band doesn’t just play great music. No, lead singer Jeremy Earl is expanding discographies with his own Woodsist label, home to Blank Dogs, Kurt Vile and Wavves.
With that same community-cooperative feel, Woods kicked off the first show of their “No Rain” Tour alongside Real Estate. (And when you tempt fate with a name like that, it should be no surprise that the precipitation came with such force.) Earl, singing in the highest registers of Neil Young or Jimmy Scott, strummed sensitive indie country on a well-worn acoustic. G. Lucas Crane—singing into an old pair of reverse-polarity headphones—twisted knobs on the tape players laid out in front of him and added an old tin-can telephone layer of harmony to Earl’s already impossibly high falsetto.
The end result was an eerie, distant Siren’s cry that didn’t sound like it could come from just the guys onstage. Their songs open up, and given this room to roam, Woods let the freedom of their live performance take over. The familiar structures were recognizable, like in “Rain On,” but as a bottle of Maker’s Mark was passed around, the songs expanded into psychedelic proportions. And then Real Estate returned to join Woods for an all-out jam party on a staple of ’90s nostalgia, Blind Melon’s “No Rain,” which is when I realized the tour had nothing at all to do with the weather. —Jason Dean