REVIEW: Woods [Brighton Music Hall 7/2]

Last year, collaborative folk band, Woods planned and hosted the festival Woodsist, in California as they gained popularity within the scene. The lineup included many up-and-coming artists, making it apparent that the way the band thinks about music is synergistic. Singer and composer of the band, Jeremy Earl founded indie Brooklyn label, also called Woodsist, where the band releases their music.

This past Sunday, three Northeast bands took on Brighton Music Hall to share intimacy. Cut Worms, a Brooklyn native singer-songwriter started off the bill shrugging over his tiny acoustic – accentuating the high and treble frequencies, to balance his warm tonal voice. Like a folky Beach Boys with Dylan-esque lyricism, Cut Worms’ Max Clark won over listeners as a solo acoustic act with his intoxicating honesty. Keeping simplicity of language and rhyme scheme close to heart, his poetry speaks for itself. To paraphrase some; “oh what a rotten child you’ve turned into, oh what a shame this world should go to you.”

John Andrews & the Yawns were next on the bill, pairing organ-led folk with good pop-sensibility. The sliding guitar, and lazy, sighing vocals make way for the flute to stand out, giving the band a natural, woodsy sound. Andrews himself employs falsetto and gentleness to his vocal style, and often played the organ dry. This made the use of a wah pedal in the final jam even more extraordinary.

When Woods took the stage, they were accompanied by John Andrews, on drums – just another example of the unity of the scene, as well as the band’s own personal artistic vantage point. The set began sounding quite grounded in more folky roots, and then took a psychedelic twist. As they progressed through the high-energy set involving harmonica, saxophone and rhodes keyboard, the sound became progressively more ambient. The group jammed through whirring, dark intermissions that sounded like a desert breeze with surfy, distorted and wah-ing guitar that would shake Link Wray from his grave.

Their live sound is rewarding and more improvisational than their recorded works. The songs themselves were percussion-heavy, with the addition of occasional woodblocks, and a strong rhythm section. The darker half of the set became far less about vocals, and sounded more quizzical, with Santana-like guitar solos. Woods will be on their “Love is Love” North American tour for a few more weeks, hitting cities like Burlington (7/5), DC (7/13), Philly (7/14), and New York (7/15).