As the jolly summery beats ring out below a smooth falsetto voice, I feel like I’ve being transported to a summer festival. This is Woods, New York’s answer to folk/psychedelic pop with their album Sun And Shade.
Opening track ‘Pushing Onlys’ begins with a wholesome riff that would go nicely with a vintage gravy advert. It’s happy and uplifting with a hazy smudge of summer, ending with what sounds like a UFO abduction.
Track two ‘Any Other Day’ continues this warm summer feel until track three ‘Be All Easy’ cools down and sounds like something from the Juno soundtrack with its naked acoustic guitar and cute lyrics. Track four ‘Out Of The Eye’ is Woods’ version of Krautrock and the most interesting on the album. The 7 minute long track is seriously progressive, building layers until it becomes unbearable and desperate to resolve, ending with a satisfying bang. Normally sceptical of songs over 5 minutes, I find myself hooked and unable to pull out of the hypnosis.
Then we have a break from the heavy layers and are given two happy songs, ‘Hand It Out’ and ‘To Have In The Home’, featuring tambourines and dancey beats. But it’s not long before the krautrock returns…
‘Sol Y Sombra’ the title track (albeit in Spanish) sounds exactly like its title suggests. I feel as if I’m watching a long build up to a shoot-off in the desert, all that’s missing is a whining harmonica. The tension builds above a bluesy bass, and it’s here that you really understand why it’s labelled as psychedelic. Eight minutes in, the cloud of noise breaks down and disperses. The anticipated gun shots never happen.
‘Wouldn’t Waste’ comes next, a much cleaner yet haunting track that comes as a breath of fresh air after the scratchy krautrock. ‘Who Do I Think I Am?’ and ‘What Faces The Sheet’ are the most catchy tracks, and those most likely to stick in the mind, yet I find these songs a bit too simple compared to the dense complexity of the others on the album.
Track 11 ‘White Out’ brings in an ethnic drumming and the lead guitar reminds me of Vampire Weekend, gradually falling into another progressive jam until the album ends with ‘Say Goodbye’, a great track that provides a quick and gentle swoop back into reality and works as a peaceful ending to a dynamic album.
Throughout Sun And Shade are signals of ethnicity which feel raw and authentic, but overall the album is just too dirty for me, and it’s sketchiness makes it sound like a work in progress or a first draft. The hazy effects get a bit tiring, and I’m not over impressed with the UFO sound effects and the out of place wah wah pedal. Despite this, the album is definitely interesting and demands to be listened to without any distractions.
Released on June 14th 2011 by Woodsist Records