Do you have a favorite band? I find it hard to pick just one, but I imagine a lot of you, especially if you like music, have that same problem. Exploration, new experiences, and learning, whether it be about an artist or about ourselves is the cornerstone what makes music enjoyable and because of this it can seem trite or even immature to pick one out and call it a favorite. But we do it anyway, and that’s alright. A few of mine are Deerhunter, Broadcast, Women, Sonic Youth the usual suspects. I like these bands not necessarily because I enjoy listening to their music more than other bands (although that certainly is a component of it) or even that I have some personal connection to them like I grew up with them. No I like those bands because Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon are people I want to be. Trish Keenan is someone I’d like to hear cooing to me in my dreams, and I like Bradford Cox because I get the real sense that’s something that he wants too. These are bands that we see ourselves being a part of, or rather, we see the bands as being a part of us. Whichever it is, it’s irrational, trite and immature, as irrational, trite and immature as having a favorite band to begin with. But we do it anyway, and that’s alright.
So is Woods anyone’s favorite band? I don’t know. I hope they are, but they are not mine. Woods constantly is releasing good albums. The only two that have raised blips on my radar though have been the excellent Songs of Shame, and the record I am currently reviewing Bend Beyond. And that feels alright to me. Would I enjoy Woods’ other five albums? Probably. Am I clamoring to hear them? No. This is an issue of the emotional realm though. Listening to Bend Beyond it is hard to point at anything that they could have done differently, the problem is with me. Looking at it objectively though Bend Beyond is a strong album, certainly stronger then you would imagine if your only exposure to it was what I just wrote above.
Woods combines lo-fi with folk, there sound is something you may hear around a campfire if you somehow crammed all the ambiance and mysticism of a darkened wood into an electric guitar tone. At their best they are honest, and I think that is what made Songs of Shame so good. Whether it be shame of self, country, or whatever, Woods had a song about it. Bend Beyond doesn’t have that going for it, but listening to the record, it just doesn’t seem to matter. The album works on several levels, Woods find new ways within a well familiar formula to write good songs. Bend Beyond has a little bit more psychedelica to it than Songs of Shame, and it fits with their style. I will say that I preferred Songs of Shame’s lo-fi leanings, but that’s more of a personal preference than an actual complaint. Bend Beyond is cleaner, and a little less rowdy at times which probably makes sense for a band that has lyrics worth singing clearly.
I would be hard pressed to find something serious to complain about with Bend Beyond but I keep looking. I don’t completely understand why, but I do it anyway, and that’s alright. If you listen to it though I think you will like it. I like it too, it is my pick of the week after all.