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Songs of Shame

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iTunes Review

Songs of Shame is the fourth full-length release from the shady Woods, who — to this point — have kept their sprawling and elusive brand of dark, lo-fi folk in the underbrush. Songs of Shame lets some sunshine in, and is a beautiful, impressive outing. Opening track “To Clean” is warm and sweet, echo dripping off of melancholy vocals and a strummed guitar clanging with nostalgia; by songs’ end, however, a raucous, howling guitar takes over, setting the tone for much of Songs of Shame. “The Hold” is reverb-laden, post-folk that ends in spastic, acidic guitar work, but “The Number” is all delicate, acoustic floweriness, and Jeremy Earl’s airy falsetto completes the tune without rude assault. “Rain On” succinctly weaves together influences as disparate as Pavement and Neil Young, while ‘60s psychedelia flavors the lovely instrumental “Echo Lake” and the tambourine-laced “Gypsy Hand.” There’s even a cover of Graham Nash’s “Military Madness,” done with a healthy dash of reverence in an apparent poke at our current military quandaries. The best yet from Woods.

Customer Reviews

Just like home, only quirkier.

Songs of Shame pulls off a neat trick. From an instrumental standpoint, this album should not alienate anyone who is familiar with guitar based folk rock produced between 1960 and today. However, any listener who puts in an investment will find it fascinating. The first unique characteristic is the falsetto delivery of lead vocals, which veers from haunting to almost laughably saccharine. The lyrics (like nearly all good lyrics) stand up by virtue of being universal and a bit amorphous at the same time. But beyond that, they evoke a sort of "sadness as truism" vibe that proves irresistable after a few listens. About every notion I've conveyed so far is exemplified by the chilling "The Number", which oozes over with sentiment, while remaining alien enough to enchant you every time. Elsewhere, "Rain On" takes this formula to a slightly more rockin' conclusion, peppered with lines like "and it feels like it should today, falling back on a better place". Backed with sometimes off-kilter fuzz guitar and a drum kit you could see in your own bedroom, it's pretty undeniable. "To Clean" rounds out the trilogy of crucial tracks here, with vocals that seem to go just a few notes higher than they should be allowed to and a succinct melody that's unshakable. Missteps here are rare, but their are a fair number of tracks that seem to serve more to sustain the vibe than to build on it in any way. "The Hold" has some interesting guitar play, but is ultimately disposable. "Down This Road" shows promise but peters out long before it can really deliver. "September With Pete" - a nine-plus-minute psych-jam - is actually pretty entertaining given the right mood, but breaks up an otherwise fluid set in a way that seems more bothersome than interesting. On the other hand, the two-minute instrumental "Echo Lake" actually bridges some of the more substantial tracks nicely. And I'll give it up for the Stephen Stills cover (or is it Graham Nash...I really don't feel like Googling right now) "Military Madness". It's an exciting little riot, recontextualized and delivered with integrity. By the time the carefree "Gypsy Hand" and timeless "Where and What Are You?" hit, you'll feel somewhere implacably between your own backyard and a foreign town.

My patience is at an end.

Hold on, now. For those that are comparing Woods to Fleet Foxes, you sicken me. They can not be compared. Two completely different sounds. This album is one of the best albums I've ever heard, and I think we can expect even more fantastic material from them in time. Some might say that the freak folk genre is a trend, but I see no reason why it shouldn't last, and with spectacular groups like Woods, it never will. And stop reviewing albums that you've never even heard!

Shut The F(ox) Up!!!

Fleet Foxes. They're a band. They exist. This is Woods. This is a different band. They are NOT trying to be Fleet Foxes. This album is beautiful; intimate at times, lonely at others. It is a rewarding, folksy album writ on a small scale. Nothing like Fleet Foxes' modern channeling of CS&N's most expansive work. It is not useful to rate this album on how the two bands compare. What, they're both tenors? So was Pavoratti. So what.


Formed: 2005 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Founded as a side project by Meneguar's Jeremy Earl, Woods started as a solitary recording project in 2005. Earl recorded the debut Woods release, How to Survive In/In the Woods, a double cassette that appeared on the Fuckittapes label, shortly after the project's inception. The project's acoustic-leaning sounds veered away from the more traditional rock instrumentation of the parent band, and the off-the-cuff, lo-fi recording style cultivated a loose and searching vibe in the early material. In...
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