Archive for Woods

Woods’ “With Light And Love” Bends Just Slightly Beyond Their Prior Masterpiece

Posted in Music with tags , , on April 16, 2014 by johnbuckley100

Last time out, in 2012, Woods’ Bend Beyond shocked the Western world when it beat out Ty Segall to take Tulip Frenzy’s Album of the Year honors.  Maybe their amazing show at DC’s Red Palace helped sway the judges.  But as we noted then, Bend Beyond was one of those mythical Perfect Albums, as rare as a pitcher’s Perfect Game, with an astonishing sound and not a note out of place.

We saw them again in the summer of 2013, and they gave hints at what a good album With Light And Love, released this week, would turn out to be.  It is a bright, confident follow up to a masterpiece, and there is no let down, no disappointment.  Does that automatically make it, too, a masterpiece?  Not necessarily, though it means we have come to expect the extraordinary with Woods, and they seem perfectly at ease in delivering it.

With Aaron Neveu now a full-fledged member of the band, and we presume that’s Kevin Morby on bass — their photo on the Woodsist website does not have Morby, whose excellent solo album, Harlem River, was released late last year, but we think that’s him — the twin-guitar sound of Jeremy Earl and Jarvis Tavaniere continues to ply the line between the best Topanga Canyon 12-string chimes and the sonic-rocket-to-the-moon psychedelia for which their lives shows are so notable.  And Jeremy Earl’s voice continues to be a sui generis marvel, causing Robert Plant, Al Green, and the Dean Wareham of Galaxie 500 to all stand back, their mouths agape.

What’s different here is evident from the start, wherein album opener “Shepherd” has a pedal steel and Nicky Hopkins piano sound, a postcard from whatever country locale Woods has arrived in, far out of town and in touch with their Flying Burrito Brothers.  We suppose that Woods — a Brooklyn band that records Upstate — has a shorter distance to travel than Darker My Love did when they veered into chiming ’60s country rock with Alive As You Are ( another Perfect Album that took Tulip Frenzy Album of the Year honors.  And in fact, Tim Presley plays on this ‘un.) The country vibe sure is lovely, but better yet comes the Dylanesque “Leaves Like Glass,” whose instrumentation sounds like the tape was left rolling during the Blonde On Blonde sessions. We would dare anyone to listen to “Twin Steps” and not immediately plan on proceeding, with the missionary zeal of a programmed zombie, to catch this band live.  And while the 9:07 title track sums up this band’s virtuosity and complexity in spades, it’s “Moving To The Left” that harkens, ironically, to the right of the radio dial, where in a perfect world it would remain, being played over and over throughout the summer months.

This doesn’t mean we expect Woods to storm the record charts.  We’re both realistic and at completely at odds with the way hits are manufactured to by this time have hope that a band this fine will be properly rewarded in this lifetime.  We should note, however, that there is not an insurmountable difference between With Light And Love and a Broken Bells record; we could actually imagine a radio programmer listening to “Moving To The Left” and being inspired to do the right thing, his corporate masters notwithstanding.

Perhaps, you say, it is too much to expect that even a band that creates Perfect Albums can rally the masses.  Perhaps we should think of Woods like that restaurateur that has foodies flock from across the globe to eat in his 32-seat epicurean marvel, the strange combination of sea urchins and wholesome grains utterly beguiling, with a smallish but knowing army of disciples certain they’ve discovered something special, even if it would be hard to get everyone to understand.

No, we reject that concept.  Woods are a marvel, worthy of superstardom, and if you’ve yet to understand this, start here, With Light and Love.

And go see them next weekend, with Quilt, at The Rock and Roll Hotel in D.C.

Quilt’s “Held In Splendor” Is A Patchwork Of Sonic Gorgeousness

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2014 by johnbuckley100

Quilt would prefer it if, when writing about their beautiful second album, Held In Splendor, people wouldn’t immediately invoke the Summer o’ Love, the Mamas and Papas, all those harmonically ambitious bands that played into the wee hours as women in long skirts danced around the driftwood pyre while the menfolk nodded and communed with the shadow of the moon.  Fine then, let’s put ’em in a more contemporary context.

Their second album is produced by Woods’ polymath Jarvis Taveniere, which gives you a reference point to which you’ll  affix your navigation quadrant and map their current location.  Physically it’s Boston, and thank Yahweh for that because it’s so much more original than saying they come from Brooklyn, like other bands that sound just like them: you know, bands with jangly guitars, and four-part harmonies, and a bass player who manages to ground the weirdness in muscular urgency.  But let us also say that if the late Bill Doss of Olivia Tremor Control was in the room, he would nod in admiration.  And that another band Jarvis has produced, Widowspeak, would likely manage Quilt’s fan club if they didn’t have their own album to do.  No, we won’t invoke the Summer o’ Love, we’ll just say that when Quilt played Portland the other week, we bet all those kids who love Houndstooth came out in force.

Shane Butler and Anna Fox Rochinski were art-school students when they formed Quilt at the dawn of the Obama years, and we bet their teachers shook their heads in dismay when they veered into music. For the rest of us, art school’s loss is our earbuds’ gain as angels dance around guitar and keyboard weirdness that can call to mind both Magic Trick and the Magic Castles in the span of a single song.  Where Widowspeak lacks fiber, Quilt has just enough bulk to maintain a consistent weight.  Held In Splendor is wonderfully produced, weird in the way Prince Rupert’s Drops are weird, thrilling in the way Woods are thrilling.  Yeah, this is a good ‘un, and we’ll just state the obvious: if these guys really were from the late ’60s Bay Area, Altamont would never have happened, and by 2014 the land would be harmonious and we’d all be happy vegans.  ‘Course, they’re in the here and now, and so you have the chance to hear ’em now.

They open for Woods at the Rock & Roll Hotel on April 26th.  We know you’ll be there.

Kevin Morby’s Got His Own Album To Do

Posted in Music with tags , , , on November 26, 2013 by johnbuckley100

The Harlem River is not the Big Muddy, it’s not the Colorado, it’s not the Snake.  By the standards of American waterways it’s something of an afterthought, better known for the highway that runs along it than its noble role separating Manhattan from the Bronx. Let’s put it this way: to most people, its most important aspect is that without it, Manhattan would not be an island.  It’s a curious body of water to lend its name to an album as pretty as Kevin Morby’s Harlem River, promising something as pure as the Allagash, though we assure you, you wouldn’t want to drink from it.

But drink deep of this lovely, quiet, sometimes mesmerizing album.  The title track is haunting, and would easily be a hit in that perfect world that so honors nine-minute songs.  “Miles, Miles, Miles” is a piece of Americana stolen from the after-hours of the Blonde On Blonde sessions.  It doesn’t take Cate LeBon to make “Slow Train” that perfect song for a Saturday morning when it rains outside, but it helps.

Morby has a nice voice, and we already knew he was a stellar musician from his work fronting The Babies and playing bass in Woods.  The Babies — with their Pixies antecedents and their Brooklyn barroom roots — are not an obvious reference point for a quiet, soulful album like this.  So it’s like Woods, right?  Uh uh, for whereas the brilliance of that brilliant band is projected like a Titan rocket by the strength of Jeremy Earl’s voice, nothing Kevin Morby does is meant to announce itself.  He’s just made a lovely, quiet album we’ll be playing on those rainy Saturdays, on those long car rides, for a long time to come.

Like Ron Wood before him, long, long ago, Morby’s got his own album to do, and we’re glad he did it.

We’ve Been Streaming Kevin Morby’s “Harlem River,” And What A Treat It Is

Posted in Music with tags , , , on November 22, 2013 by johnbuckley100

If you like the music Kevin Morby makes with the Babies, where he sings and plays guitar, and wonder what it might be like were he to go into the studio with, oh, the musicians who recorded Blonde on Blonde, then a treat awaits you Tuesday, when Harlem River is released on Woodsist.  And of course it’s on Woodsist since Morby’s day job is playing bass for Woods.

Can’t wait til Tuesday to listen?  You can stream the whole thing from Pitchfork, bless their little souls, right here.

More next week.

 

We Will Hold Up Announcement Of The Tulip Frenzy Top 10 List For Kevin Morby’s “Harlem River”

Posted in Music with tags , , , on October 26, 2013 by johnbuckley100

Ordinarily, we put out the Tulip Frenzy Top Ten List (c) over Thanksgiving.  We do this in part so that we are not influenced by all the other Top Ten lists that come out in December, and in part because we want to give folks a chance to do their holiday shopping early.

(A digression: never have we been so pleased as to hear from a friend that she had handed our Top Ten list in a given year to a clerk at a record store — remember them? — asking him if he would be so kind as to collect each of the CDs — remember them? — from the racks.  The clerk looked at the list, then back at my friend, and said, “Oh, so you have a 13-year old son, huh?”  We grinned from ear to ear. Seldom have we been so proud.)

But this year, we may have to hold things up to wait and see if all of Woods/Babies guitarist Kevin Morby’s Harlem River is as good as the initial release, made available via Stereogum, not to mention the second song they made available this week.  Listen to those two songs and you’ll see why we will be happy to wait for the November 26th release of Harlem River.  That’s only two days before Thanksgiving.  Perhaps by that weekend we’ll have been able to place the album in the context of all the great music that’s been released this year.  (Yeah, we’re thinking Thee Oh Sees, Mikal Cronin, Bowie, Crocodiles, and that’s just off the top o’ our head.  Lotsa good music to consider…)

We can’t wait.

Woods Do-Over On “Be All Easy” Reveals A Welcome Impulse

Posted in Music with tags , , , on July 16, 2013 by johnbuckley100

Yesterday we asked the question of whether, with Bend Beyond, it was possible that Woods had peaked.  It was pure speculation, rumination, based not on evidence but the mathematical logic that when you’ve achieved perfection — and we believe that 2012’s Bend Beyond was, in fact, perfect — the odds tilt in favor of the next one being less so.  Which means a decline.

So when we noticed last night that somehow, escaping our attention, Woods had just a week ago released a new single, and that the A-side was a remake of “Be All Easy” from 2011’s Sun and Shade — an album that was good, but not close to perfect — we avidly downloaded it.  We’ve been listening to both the A-side and to the new “God’s Children.”  Here are some quick observations for Woodsheads, or Woodstocks, or whatever we fanatics may be called.

A do-over is always an interesting development among recording artists.  When Alejandro Escovedo recorded “Guilty” on two successive albums, it was clear — seemed clear — that he felt he hadn’t gotten it right the first time.  But Woods’ redo of “Be All Easy” is notable both for the two-year gap between versions (we assume; we know when it was released, but not necessarily when it was re-recorded), and for the softer, more melodic, increasingly Byrdsy, decreasingly edgy production.  Jeremy Earl and his compadres have made a pretty song gorgeous, and that’s not an impulse you’ll see us reject.

But then there is this: we noticed the other night in Portland that it seemed like Earl was singing some songs with slightly less of a pronounced falsetto.  Go listen to “God’s Children.”  It is sung in an ethereal, high voice.  But falsetto? Not really… It bears the same resemblance to Earl’s typical singing as, say, Dean Wareham’s singing in Luna bore to his singing in Galaxie 500.

I don’t know what this means.  And clearly, were Earl to sing on a new album with a lower-registered voice, it would simultaneously render Woods less distinctive, if less freakish.  Would that be a bad thing?  Not based on the results of “God’s Children.”

UPDATE: See below from Woods’ website.  Also, please note we now have the name of the incredible drummer.  Finally, please note that “God’s Children” Is A Kinks song!  All of the above still stands.

LIMITED TO 1,000 COPIES

The recording of these songs serves as a farewell to Rear House, Woods’ home, recording studio, creative refuge and beloved shithole for ten long years.

“God’s Children” is a classic Kinks tune from the soundtrack to the 1971 British film Percy; “Be All, Be Easy,” originally from 2011’s Sun and Shade, was rerecorded to capture the live form that’s taken shape since its original release. Both are the first to feature new drummer, Aaron Neveu.

Woods And Parquet Courts At SPACE Gallery In Portland Was The Center Of The Universe, For Just One Night

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on July 15, 2013 by johnbuckley100

Woods Portland Main

iPhone 5  Woods

We introduced to the team at Tulip Frenzy the concept of a weekend road trip, magnanimously offering to fly them to the best rock’n’roll show anywhere in the world, wherever it might be.  One participant, a little long in the tooth, suggested we fly First Class to London to the see the Stones, with Mick Taylor, play at Hyde Park.  We were tempted, until we checked our bank statement.  Thankfully, it was at this moment that one of our younger folk — remembering well how we had named Woods’ Bend Beyond Tulip Frenzy’s 2012 Album of the Year ™, not to mention our having gone bonkers over them live last fall — pointed out that Woods was playing in Portland, Maine on Sunday evening.  Not only was it a little bit closer than London, but because Southwest Airlines flies there, we were now free to move about the country, and as a further inducement, our faves Parquet Courts were on the bill.  The matter settled, we opted for lobster roll + rock’n’roll.  We’re rather glad we did.

It’s all good news.  First, the next release by Parquet Courts is going to be a killer.

Parquet Portland Main

iPhone 5 Parquet Courts

They played the best songs from Light Up Gold — “Borrowed Time,” “Donuts Only,” “N Dakota,” closing with a (very) long “Stoned And Starving” — but at least two of the new songs were so good we stood there, 100 or so of the coolest people in the state of Maine surrounding us, our jaws demonstrably agape, and we didn’t care.  This one long, slow song in the middle was like seeing Television play “Marquee Moon” at CBGB or something.  And the penultimate song, with Austin Brown playing this batter-dipped lead line while Andrew Savage sang like a goddamned pop star was so good, we took the tee-shirt salesman by the lapels to demand he give us a release date. (He was vague, but fall seemed reasonable, and he set us straight that it’s an EP, not an LP, that you’ll see next.)

Parquet Courts are one of the very few contemporary bands that play as if nothing much has happened since the summer o’ ’79, and we say that as a high compliment.  They may be transplanted Texans living in Brooklyn, but they so easily would have fit in with downtown bands in Manhattan from that era that you feel like you are in a joyous time warp when punk wasn’t a style to be celebrate at the Met, it was the only way these kids knew how to play.  Take one part Feelies, a twist of early Fall, a soupcon of Richard Hell’s Voidoids and it all adds up to as glorious an expression of real rock’n’roll as exists these days.  And the  long, loping psyche jamming they elided into — and it is true that bands that are as comfortable playing songs that are ten minutes long as songs that are one minute long always bring a smile to the faces of the Tulip Frenzy hordes – make them a worthy underbill to Woods.

Jeremy Earl was in fine voice, which is to say hogs in Quebec were stampeding across the border by the time he’d finished “Cali In A Cup.”  He was quite nattily dressed in espadrilles, white-ish slacks, a proper blue shirt, and for the first time in recorded history, with trim hair ‘und beard and no hat.  He looked like when the set was over, he was going right on over to the Portland Yachting Club to trade sea chants with Thurston Howell — not as we remembered him!

Everything about Woods says force of nature.  Earl’s falsetto is a strange gift from the forest deities.  Jarvis Taveniere playing electric 12-string while Earl sings and plays acoustic, or bears down on satori while playing a pretty boss lead, is one of the wonders of the post-Byrds world.  I don’t know if the drummer is G. Lucas Crane — that’s the name listed as playing tapes and other gee gaws, but not necessarily the pounding of stretched animal hides with wooden sticks — but whomever he is, he’s a delight in concert.  And when Earl and Taveniere have set their course on astronomy domine, and they’ve shed their folk-rock booster engines in order to exit the atmosphere in psychedelic fireworks, well, it’s just at that moment that you realize all this racket is being both propelled and tied down by the remarkable Kevin Morby on bass.

Woods played our faves from Bend Beyond, including an alchemical version of the title track in which our brain matter liquified and our eyes spun like flywheels, and they too finished with a long jam of what we think is a new song but could well be mistaken.  Whatever it was, by this time many of the hard-working lobstermen and their whaling wives had left to prepare their nets, or whatever it is they were compelled to do at a comparatively early 11:45, Woods concluded the festivities, a smattering of applause rang out among the 50 of us still there, and we emerged into the streets wondering… well, several things.

One, how is it that the center of the rock’n’roll universe, on this particular Sunday night, ended up in Portland, Maine?  (Is it that Portland and Brooklyn bear such a locavore affinity, that the former has been absorbed into the latter, which would claim this part of Maine as a suburb of NYC?) Two, how is it that bands can be as great as Parquet Courts and Woods and not have it be them standing up before the multitudes in Hyde Park, instead of those skinny septuagenarians in the Rolling Stones who should have retired before Parquet Courts was born? How many evenings in a year does magic occur in a small space such as this with a 100 or fewer people there to recognize it?  Will Woods’ next album be as great as Bend Beyond, or might that be their peak? Finally, how is it that, among all the spots on earth where we could have been last night, we were lucky enough to have been there, to see Woods and Parquet Courts make an old sea port come alive like Moby ‘effin Dick was still on the loose?

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