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Woods, the psychedelic folk-rock band from Brooklyn, have been prolific artist releasing nine studio albums sense 2006. They have also been one of the most consistent acts within the indie rock circle with each album being exceptionally good. During these releases, they have remained true to their form of music, a distinct combination of rock, tight jams coupled with warm summery folk. Over the past couple years, the band has modestly slowed down their output, spending a little more time in the studio. Their latest, the awesomely titled City Sun Eater in the River of Light, took two years to release – a lifetime compared to their early days of an album per year. This album does not find singer and main songwriter Jeremy Earl and company blazing new trails but focusing on what this band does best.
Opening track “Sun City Creeps” finds the band in top form. The song remains warm in texture, but there is more menace in the lyrics, which Earl delivers in hush version of his well known falsetto. The mariachi-inspired horns give depth and weight, making it the perfect opener. The trippy “Creature Comfort” displays the band’s ability to craft songs with structure and direction, which are grounds that make Woods great studio musicians as well as fantastic road show performers.
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To label Woods as merely as a psych-rock band would be a disservice to the band. Throughout their lengthy discography, Woods have displayed great pop sensibility, evident in the folksy “Morning Light”. The warm guitar chords and laid back attitude make it feel perfectly placed for the Filmore, but there are also huge hooks necessary to make the lyrics pop out to the listener. There are also funk elements that percolate throughout City Sun Eater in the River of Light. “Can’t See at All”, for instance, has a groovy beat and near-perfect guitar hooks to get people moving on the dance floor.
Unlike some albums where the best songs are saved for the beginning, City Sun Eater in the River of Light is a complete record with some of the best songs on the back half. “The Take”, in particular, is terrific. The song starts with a great guitar riff but then takes off with Earl’s beautiful “Ohhh” harmonies and driven home by the brass horns. There are elements of My Morning Jacket in this track, especially with its well-placed yell right before the bombastic final jam.
Woods is a welcome staple in the world of rock music. It is great to have artist like Tame Impala that stretch their sound and who boldly and successfully go in new creative directions. It is equally appealing to have a band that is so confident in their sound and their ability to consistently turn out great material. Woods is on well hell of a run of quality and their latest is no exception.
City Sun Eater in the River of Light is out April 8th via Woods’ own label WOODSIST.
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