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Woods – Songs Of Shame

Vivian Girls did it earlier this year, helping to revive C86 as they went. Crystal Stilts added impeccable influence in the shape of Jesus & Mary Chain’s Pyschocandy. Wavves even added a touch of hit-and-miss, West Coast slacking into his mix. And now, Woods have done it with a dash of folk and psych-rock. Noise is big news, and remarkably all these fine purveyors call the enviable, New York-based Woodsist label home.

Categorised by the scene’s lo-to-no-fi production values and ethereal reverb, Woods have taken the sound outdoors and into the creased hills of their artwork. There is something to be said for experience and Woods have it in spades as former members of the earnest and intricate Meneguar. A slew of low-key Woods releases and one previous studio album all support the adage that practice makes perfect.

But Songs Of Shame is not perfect and that’s why it’s appealing. The muffling qualities of their light affection for noise provide intentional scuffs and fractures. The crackling falsetto of the haunting ‘Born To Lose’ and fuzzy ‘Rain On’ align the record with Devendra Banhart and the so-called freak-folk movement. Magik Markers’ Pete Nolan cameos on the rambling 9-minute, psychedelic jam of ‘September With Pete’, in truth with little note. The instrumental ‘Echo Lake’ is curiously foreign containing both the rhythm from Primal Scream’s ‘Rocks’ as well as swarthy drumming.

Where the persistent folk feel provides bucolic colour, where Americana bleeds onto the arpeggiating guitar-work, Woods become very interesting, gently blurring genre boundaries. On one hand there is the loyal cover of Graham Nash’s ‘Military Madness’, on the other, the melancholic harmonies of ‘The Hold’. And then there are the guitar solos. Some start loose and aimless, some punctuate the conscience unexpectedly. Others drive an emotion far from shame, evoking the all-embracing stoner-psych of Arboretum.

Woods have an album of which to be proud in Songs Of Shame, one that deserves more than the self-depreciating footnote it will likely achieve. And that’s the real shame.

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