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: Jarvis Taveniere
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 – 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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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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