This review was originally published at Listen Before You Buy.
I was pleasantly surprised when I recently heard the music of New York based band Woods for the first time. Surprised and, I have to say, a little alarmed that it took me this long to discover them. I often think that everything worth hearing will at some point roll my way from the wide and wonderful world of the internet, but somehow I happened to hear this band for the first time by seeing them live this week. Funny that what used to be such a common occurrence is probably an increasingly rare method of discovery for music-lovers of our generation. It is impossible to replace what it feels like to have your first exposure to a specific act be watching them create their music live. Having said that, “Sun And Shade” is almost as much of a pleasure as that live performance at The Glasslands on Monday was.
“Sun And Shade” sounds like American music to me. Woods manage to incorporate both the strange and mesmerizing rock along with the rugged and folksy music of this young and brazen country. Magical tender ballads like ‘Wouldn’t Waste’ almost don’t sound as if they came from the same band as the nearly ten minute, South-American infused ‘Sol Y Sombra’. Aside from sharing that song title with a Cat Empire song, the phrase also translates into “Sun and Shade” making it a title track of sorts.
Other highlights include ‘Who Do I Think I Am’, a song that twists so far into self-doubt that it almost comes out the other side confident again. The folk strains of this song and its harmonic brilliance remind me of some Grateful Dead or Allman Brothers tracks. Another lengthy piece ‘Out Of The Eye’ sounds like a 70′s Cadillac rolling through the desert at night, and it remains interesting for the full length of its 7 minutes, the same way those black starlit roadtrip miles never grow old.
The American theme holds up lyrically too, with brisk streaks of individualism belying a sense of collective always lurking in the background. ‘Pushing Onlys’ the album opener, seems to be a pun on the phrase ‘pushing daisies’ and the lyrical gem “Too much room in the blink of an eye” seems to confirm this. The song features that jingling, happy sounding guitar that is supplemented by some tension building electronic noise at the end. Typical of Woods, this combination of folk-sound and electronic-fuzz rock works flawlessly.
Grab a download of ‘Pushing Onlys’ here, and honestly, try if you can to catch these guys live. They remind us what rock and roll is supposed to sound like and what musicianship really looks like.