Thursday, December 16, 2010

Woods - Songs Of Shame (2009)

A1To Clean
A2The Hold
A3The Number
A4September With Pete
A5Down This Road
B1Military Madness (by Graham Nash)
B2Born to Lose
B3Echo Lake
B4Rain On
B5Gypsy Hand
B6Where and What Are You?

The first thing that struck me in listening to Woods, and what I continued to fall in love with on hearing this particular album, is their simplicity. It is a similar simplicity that defines many of their contemporaries, like Real Estate, Vivian girls, and The Microphones, but where these groups can occasionally lose melody amidst the droning fuzz, Woods keeps it fresh with natural harmonies and at times spastic fretplay. They still coat the album in fuzz, but the end product somehow comes out natural and clean like the Fleet Foxes, or the Mountain Goats. It is the element of nature that unites this album and sets the overall mood, and with a cover of Graham Nash's "Military Madness"and a rugged, woodland mountain range for cover art it might even get a bit too peacenik at times. The only thing I'm not sure how to analyze is the front man's falsetto voice. He's a large guy with a beard, who is surely capable of belting it, and yet, unlike the similar grizzlyman, Jim James, he's constantly working the falsetto. It works for the most part, but when the times come where it gets a bit old, I always find myself asking, "Why the hell not take a break and show us something new?" At the end of the day it's an interesting take on the indie folk genre that's become so popular, and I certainly hope the group beefs up with some serious attitude and vocals in the coming releases.

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