Woods – At Echo Lake

January 01, 1970





As someone who grew up in the Hudson Valley area of the wide
swath of land known to most city folk as Upstate, New York, there is nothing
more annoying to me than the recent trend of Brooklyn-based hipsters relocating
to my territory and acting like they run the damn place. Woods, the art-damaged
psych folk band led by Woodsist Records honcho Jeremy Earl, prove to be the
exception to this rule.


Having migrated to the historic Orange
County village of Warwick,
the band has allowed the earthy Catskill vibes inspire their creativity rather
than merely utilizing it as another talking point for some shallow,
self-important conversation its members might have at the local pub. Upon
listening to At Echo Lake (originally
the title of a tune from the group’s 2009 LP Songs of Shame that may or may not be named after a family-owned
sleepaway camp in the Adirondack Mountains of the same name), one can instantly
pinpoint the Upstate atmosphere that exists within the framework of these 11
songs, which range from ghostly lakeside country (“Pick Up”, “Death Rattles”)
to a strange Byrds/Pavement-type jangle rock hybrid (“Suffering Season”) to
tunes clearly designed to help augment singer Earl’s high-pitched voice come
off even more like Neil Young than it already does (“Blood Dries Darker”, “Time
Fading Lines”).


Unfortunately, what At
Echo Lake
utterly lacks is the sense of peaky psychedelic improvisation
that has been the highlight of Woods’ outstanding concert performances as of
late (some of which you can cop for yourself at the great Metro Area-based
music site NYCTaper.com). For instance, on the album the mostly instrumental
cut “I Was Gone” is merely an interlude that fades away in less than two
minutes. Live, it becomes a 10-minute acid party jam that really showcases the
band’s growth as musicians who’ve fully transcended the lo-fi cassette scene
from which they originated. Had this record employed more of the energy of a
Woods gig as they exist in 2010, this could have been a contender for one of
the best rock albums of the year. But at least these guys harbor some panache
in their Upstate-copping ways.


“Blood Dries Darker”, “Suffering Season”, “Death Rattles”



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