Words and Photos by Aaron Richter
The Band: Woods
The Album: Songs of Shame (Woodsist)
What’s Been Said: “Woods can evoke any number of their lo-fi ancestors, from early Guided by Voices to the murkier depths of the Siltbreeze or Flying Nun back catalogs, but they’re still able to retain their own immediately recognizable off-kilter character.” – Pitchfork, Best New Music
“To say that Woods sound like a lot of bands before them isn’t exactly exposing the man behind the curtain, as they don’t try to hide behind much except arguably their lo-fi production and halfway-feigned ruralism. Woods’s surprisingly wide and presumably indie-literate audience must like them exactly because they are so familiar and fit so nicely into parameters set years ago, back when bands reclaiming folk and psych for a generation of alienated white kids had social and political resonance.” – Tiny Mix Tapes
“These guys are hype darlings with some backbone, content to quietly perfect their craft and let the rest work itself out.” – The Decibel Tolls
“Charmingly dilapidated and strangely poignant.” – us
Our Take: Scouring the Googlenet, self-titled found critical response to Woods as a mixed bag, with countless negative reviews littered about and Pitchfork emerging as the main (if only) outlet leading the charge of support for the lo-fi psych-folk troupe. Their Saturday-evening gig at bootleg Brooklyn venue The Shank saw a sizable, diverse crowd–much of which was likely swayed by the group’s Best New Music honors. Crouching near squeaky-voiced singer/guitarist Jeremy Earl, we were trilled by the down-home warmth Woods locked into and chilled by a few out-of-nowhere Malkmus-style guitar freak-outs, even if the set’s pacing began to drag halfway through. Songs of Shame projects an aura of isolation and loneliness–bedroom music for the anti-social 4-tracker, the found secret you keep from your friends and want only for yourself–but reaching a similar vibe was a rough sell live considering the relentless Colt 45-infused audience chatter.
The Verdict: OK, we get it. We understand the whole DIY warehouse-show gas. But holy hell, sometimes it would sure be dandy to hear a quality mix and not sweat away our souls in a window-, stage-, light-less loft, slowly saturating with cigarette smoke. Case in point: Singing backup into a headphone pickup channel, Woods’ C. Lucas Crane knelt before a clutter of cassette tapes and effects pedals. Not that you could hear any of Crane’s noodling. Guess that’s what you get when you set up the soundboard in the dark, with flashlights, only 20 minutes prior to set time. But self-titled favors indulging the emerging hiss-and-crackle tape culture, so we’ll reserve our Songs of Shame listening to stormy nights alone with the office hi-fi and a bottle of whisky.