Woods WoodsAt Echo Lake
It's very likely that we are looking at one of the albums of the year. A rough, muscular, dishevelled, fabulous vintage lo-fi folk album. The old-fashioned venture of Jeremy Earl and Christian Deroeck (the guys who were tired of following Jarvis Tavierne's lead, the visible head of Meneguar, a small, not-very-remarkable made-in-Brooklyn hype indie group around 2004, a cross between Superchunk and Archers Of Loaf) has hit the big time with “At Echo Lake,” its first eight thousand. Epic folk with background noise (everyone knows very well that Jeremy is addicted to cassettes, a major fan of everything that sounds like a riff from another era). The kick-off, “Blood Dries Darker,” couldn't be more 70's (to give a brilliant, progressive example) which can either hammer on ( “Pick Up”), or slip in calculated off-key notes in rambling walls of electronic sound ( “Time Fading Lines”), or even plunge into instrumental deliriums that seem more fitting to Big Brother & The Holding Company than a 21st-century band ( “From the Horn”). But we had better start from the beginning. Where on earth did these guys come from?
It's clear that the singer, Jeremy, is obsessed with his eyes. And everyone else's. He's obsessed with the concept of the eye in itself. And he's convinced that if you look up at the sky enough, you'll see a giant eye hanging - from what? A cloud, maybe? Jeremy is responsible for the album cover (take a look and you'll see the aforementioned eye) and, as the head of Woodsist, the band's record company, he's also responsible for other album covers. He has even published a book, a collection of his drawings (swords stuck into hearts, weeds and eyes--eyes are everywhere). But the thing is that Jeremy isn't an ordinary guy. As G. Lucas Crane, another member of the band, assures us, Jeremy can get up at five o'clock in the morning for the sole purpose of recording a song. At home, of course. Because let's say that if Woods sounds like anything, it's a bedroom tape touched by Graham Nash's magic wand (in this regard, they did a cover of his “Military Madness” in their previous work, the big “Songs Of Shame,” very much in the line of The Microphones). First he records, then mixes, then saturates the mics, adds the birdsong (Lucas is the one in charge of hunting them down, cassette recorder in hand), the riffs are stretched and deformed endlessly, everything is blurred a little, and it's ready to serve. In LP, CD and, of course, cassette.
Their career took off precisely with a cassette, after Meneguar broke up, around 2007, with “At Rear House,” a bare folk album that played around with a bit of timid sound collage (so timid that it was imperceptible). They consolidated this sound in their second try, “How To Survive/In The Woods,” the band's masterpiece to date, a deep songwriter treatise that still remains in the memory of those of us who kiss the ground that people like Will Oldham or M. Ward walk on. They took the definitive step towards the sound that reaches its peak in “At Echo Lake” with their third album, “Songs of Shame,” which laid the necessary groundwork (vacillations and first good intentions) so that such well-rounded songs as “Death Rattles” (without a doubt, the instant classic of the album at hand, thanks to its disguise as a lullaby from another time) could be possible. Imagine the guys from The Lovin' Spoonful having listened to too much Eels and putting Neil Young in a closet and forcing him to listen to Damien Jurado's “I Break Chairs” over and over again. This is what Woods sounds like. So you can be sure that if they could travel in time back to legendary 1968 Monterrey, they would leave Janis Joplin herself without an audience. And everybody would remember Jimi Hendrix as that guy who burned his guitar the day that Jeremy Earl played. Seriously, “At Echo Lake” is an addictive album, but it's much more than that - it's a record that makes it easy to come to the conclusion that what is old, grinded, and served to taste, rocks. Really. Laura Fernández
Woods - Death Rattles Woods- Pick Up