Woods adds gasoline to the flames of their new album with five bonus tracks
A neo-psychedelic, freak-folk band from Brooklyn aren’t exactly words that go together, but that is what Woods is. Synthesizers, bongos and acoustic guitars aren’t exactly sounds that go together, but that is what Woods does. Forgoing long-time conclusions about how folk is supposed to sound, this five-man group has forged new paths and sounds.
On July 23rd, Woods delivered five more bonus tracks to add onto their already stellar full-length project entitled, Strange to Explain [More Strange (Deluxe Edition)]. Though this review will solely focus on these five new songs (two new singles, two outtakes and on alternate version from a track on the original album), much can be said for the original album. From the hard-core alt rock of “Can’t Get Out,” to the ethereally poppy “Fell So Hard,” each track contradicts and twists itself in a way that keeps the music fresh and intriguing. Cover to cover, Strange to Explain [More Strange (Deluxe Edition)] is a continuously phenomenal album that was only made better by the addition of five new pieces.
Of the new tracks, they begin on a psychedelic happy note with their lead single, “Nickels and Dimes.” Lofty guitars straight out of today’s alternative scene dance around until lead singer Jeremy Earl’s ethereal voice vaults itself onto the cosmic soundscape. Throughout the song, acoustic, electric and steel guitars play around with one another, creating a sort of mystery and completion to the song. About this specific track, Earl recently told Stereogum, “It’s kind of my way of asking if anyone is still listening.” Taking into account the pleasing melodies intertwined with organized chaotic instrumentation, it’s safe to say that people are still listening.
“Waiting Around For A New Me,” the other single of the five new tracks, starts off slower and forgoes power chords for minor, sadder note choices. “You cut your teeth on somebody’s tongue,” goes the first line, further adding to the melancholy image that the music has presented already. However, instead of a beaten-down lament on the past, as the sound might suggest, this track transforms into a hopeful apathy for change. Nothing will be done about the issues—the narrator is just “waiting around for a new me.” The gentle guitars and steadied drums pair perfectly for the comfort of solitude the speaker is taking.
What do you get when you cross “Flight of the Bumblebees” with the theme music from Interstellar and a little bit of Tame Impala? You get the intro to “Daylight Push,” the third song (first outtake) on the project. Synthesizers, keyboards, drum pads and guitars twinkle lightly while building tension. When the tension is too much, it snaps, and a groovy, acoustic guitar sound is revealed. Drums start and stop every few seconds in direct accord with the muting of the chords from the guitars. These little pauses create a feel the Counting Crows would be proud of.
“Be There Still (Alternate Version)” represents a different sort of sound for Woods. Coming across as a demo more than a cut song, it begins with Earl’s count of “1,2, 1,2,3” and is then joined by simplistic percussion and two acoustic guitars. When it comes to melody, this song catches the ear more than most. With the stripped-down instruments, the listener can focus on Earl’s unaccompanied voice.
Sticking with the percussive, stripped-down version of their music, the last song on the album (second outtake) is titled “Sun Jammer.” However, while they stick with this musical style, no lyrics or vocals are featured at all. Staying true to the word “jammer” in the title, guitars riff off of each other in a Grateful Dead-type-manner. An interesting choice to conclude their project, the melodies and sounds are enough to make the listener remember how great this album is.
It seems as if Woods laid genres, decades, moods and ideas across a table like puzzle pieces. They then began to assemble—some 70’s here, a little hope there, sprinkle in some Jam-band era and wild vocals—and turned out an album capable of reaching and impacting many different types of music fans. The lyricism, the creativity, the melodies and the overall feel of the album is unlike anything you’ve heard before. With Strange to Explain [More Strange (Deluxe Edition)], from the original album to the bonus tracks, Woods has slated themselves to be at the peak of psychedelic folk.