Music

Woods: Bend Beyond

Sinister undertones can't be kept at bay, and Woods explode into something more tangible than their jam-rock past.


Woods

Bend Beyond

Label: Woodsist
US Release Date: 2012-09-18
UK Release Date: 2012-09-17
Amazon
iTunes

Atop a rolling, country-tinged jangly build, Jeremy Earl sings "It's so fucking hard," repeatedly on "Is It Honest". "Can you relieve me?" he continues to ask. Separate Earl's memorable falsetto from the kind of rolling, casual grace (Often reminiscent of War on Drugs frontman Adam Granduciel) of the track, and you'd be walking in fairly desperate territory. Yet buoyed by their craft, that of seemingly effortless jamming, Woods present what at first sounds like strange marriage: dark, contemplative folk and some of the more finely constructed jam rock of the last 10 years.

Yet by the end of Bend Beyond this marriage has broken off, and only repeated listens will provide enlightenment into where the divergence occurred. Bend Beyond is so rich in its aesthetics though that this notion is easier said than done.

Woods manage to break new ground in modern Americana with palpable tension. Throughout Bend Beyond, their seventh record, Earl and Woods seem constantly on their verge of implosion. And this tension benefits the songwriting; whereas past Woods tracks sometimes sounded lazy simply because they suffered from an unfocused narrative and direction, the majority of Bend Beyond moves quickly. Only one of the 12 tracks clocks in at over three and a half minutes, and when it does, on the title track, Earl's voice haunts from a place Woods has never ventured. Past records may have been ethereal in scope, but Bend Beyond is their first release that actually follows up on the initial spook.

"Cascade", an instrumental jam pays homage to the Grateful Dead, as many tracks on Bend Beyond do. But by keeping the track concise and letting it punch early, the power of the track is in what it holds back. Earl sings with a confusion and resentment and Woods get behind him. Bend Beyond doesn't so much evolve into a remarkably full listen; it's intensity shows itself immediately.

And as such, whatever band Woods was on past releases is rendered an afterthought.

Minimalist arrangements are traded for the flushed-out. "Impossible Sky" sounds as if it was performed by an entire orchestra in straw-hats. The mesmerizing acoustic shuffle of "It Ain't Easy" brings forth the immediate intimacy of a campfire and "Find Them Empty" calls upon sharp, razor's edge mentality of Neil Young and Crazy Horse. One would be forgiven for calling Earls' relentless approach brazen if you didn't fear for what might come next.

Very often when bands that cut their teeth on relentless jamming leave everything on the table, very little is left for the imagination of the listener to ponder. Bend Beyond however, peaks with intense bursts of energy, elevating this once stoner-friendly three-piece into a strange new world. Too menacing to be called folk and too precise to anymore be called a jam band, Woods is rolling with a newfound sense of poise and concentration.

7
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Books

Political Cartoonist Art Young Was an Aficionado of all Things Infernal

Fantagraphics' new edition of Inferno takes Art Young's original Depression-era critique to the Trump Whitehouse -- and then drags it all to Hell.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

OK Go's Emotional New Ballad, "All Together Now", Inspired by Singer's Bout with COVID-19

Damian Kulash, lead singer for OK Go discusses his recent bout with COVID-19, how it impacted his family, and the band's latest pop delight, "All Together Now", as part of our Love in the Time of Coronavirus series.

Books

The Rules Don't Apply to These Nonconformist Novelists

Ian Haydn Smith's succinct biographies in Cult Writers: 50 Nonconformist Novelists You Need to Know entice even seasoned bibliophiles.

Music

Siren Songs' Merideth Kaye Clark and Jenn Grinels Debut As a Folk Duo (album stream + interview)

Best friends and longtime musical collaborators Merideth Kaye Clark and Jenn Grinels team up as Siren Songs for the uplifting folk of their eponymous LP.

Music

Buzzcocks' 1993 Comeback 'Trade Test Transmissions' Showed Punk's Great Survivors' Consistency

PopMatters' appraisal of Buzzcocks continues with the band's proper comeback LP, Trade Test Transmissions, now reissued on Cherry Red Records' new box-set, Sell You Everything.

Music

Archie Shepp, Raw Poetic, and Damu the Fudgemunk Enlighten and Enliven with 'Ocean Bridges'

Ocean Bridges is proof that genre crossovers can sound organic, and that the term "crossover" doesn't have to come loaded with gimmicky connotations. Maybe we're headed for a world in which genres are so fluid that the term is dropped altogether from the cultural lexicon.

Books

Claude McKay's 'Romance in Marseille' Is Ahead of Its Time

Claude McKay's Romance in Marseille -- only recently published -- pushes boundaries on sexuality, disability, identity -- all in gorgeous poetic prose.

Music

Christine Ott Brings the Ondes Martenot to New Heights with the Mesmerizing 'Chimères'

France's Christine Ott, known for her work as an orchestral musician and film composer, has created a unique new solo album, Chimères, that spotlights an obscure instrument.

Music

Man Alive! Is a Continued Display of the Grimy-Yet-Refined Magnetism of King Krule

Following The OOZ and its accolades, King Krule crafts a similarly hazy gem with Man Alive! that digs into his distinct aesthetic rather than forges new ground.

Books

The Kinks and Their Bad-Mannered English Decency

Mark Doyles biography of the Kinks might complement a seminar in British culture. Its tone and research prove its intent to articulate social critique through music for the masses.

Music

ONO Confronts American Racial Oppression with the Incendiary 'Red Summer'

Decades after their initial formation, legendary experimentalists ONO have made an album that's topical, vital, uncomfortable, and cathartic. Red Summer is an essential documentation of the ugliness and oppression of the United States.

Film

Silent Women Filmmakers No Longer So Silent: Alice Guy Blaché and Julia Crawford Ivers

The works of silent filmmakers Alice Guy Blaché and Julia Crawford Ivers were at risk of being forever lost. Kino Lorber offers their works on Blu-Ray. Three cheers for film historians and film restoration.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.