(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Friday, July 8, 2011

CD review - Woods, Sun and Shade (2011)

Dreamy indie folk captures a slice of the '60s and '70s

Woods actually capture a couple of slices. Their gentle folk rock sound recall bands like It's a Beautiful Day or the Flying Burrito Brothers. But they also sprinkle Sun and Shade with a couple of psychedelic jams that merge early Pink Floyd with Velvet Underground and Can.

On the surface, these two directions set up a cognitive dissonance. Both are enjoyable, but they don't quite mesh. But by the time White Out plays, Woods has bridged that gap. The percussion and bass driven groove builds up a trippy feel, while the dreamy, echoed vocals surprisingly ground the tune. The meandering result is a Grateful Dead sounding folk jam.

For a taste of the mid '60s folk rock, give a listen to Any Other Day. The big room reverb, the close harmonies, and chiming acoustic guitar conspire to recreate a 1966 Buffalo Springfield vibe. The effect is subverted by the charred edges of distorted guitar that sneak in the second half, but that balance is what makes Woods enchanting. The contrast between the upbeat, hopeful music and the pessimistic lyrics is another interesting quality:
I won't believe that it can't get worse
It's not impossible to see
To have and to hold for whatever that's worth
We won't be coming back
On the wilder side, Sun and Shade offers two extended jams, Out of the Eye and Sol y Sombre. Both are rich musical explorations of experimental space. Woods take the time to let the tracks develop naturally, which is very much like Pink Floyd's work on Saucerful of Secrets. On Out of the Eye, the hypnotic jam weaves between Floyd, Velvet Underground style discordance, and classic Krautrock. Sol y Sombre takes a Floyd-style space rock groove, built from a bass and percussion foundation and adds some sparse, meditative Jerry Garcia guitar lines.

Embrace the dichotomy that Sun and Shade offers, whether it's the dandelion wine or the subtly dosed Kool-Aid. Either taste will prove worthwhile.

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