Woods (Warwick, NY)
With a title like At Echo Lake, the fifth album from New York’s Woods intimates a modern rock aesthetic fully informed by historical manifestations of teenage along with a concomitant feel for the specifics of time and place. The distance between 2007’s At Rear House and 2010’s At Echo Lake may at first seem only semantic but it more properly represents a move from a kind of informal back porch jam ethos to a fully-committed vision of the infinite possibilities of group playing.
Over the past few years Woods have established themselves as an anomaly in a world of freaks. They were an odd proposition even in the outré company of vocalist/guitarist/label owner Jeremy Earl’s Woodsist roster, perpetually out of time, committed to songsmanship in an age of noise, drone and improvisation, to extended soloing, oblique instrumentals and the usurping use of tapes and F/X in an age of dead-end singer-songwriters. Recent live shows have seen them best confuse the two, playing beautifully-constructed songs torn apart by fuzztone jams and odd electronics.
At Echo Lake feels like a diamond-sharp distillation of the turbulent power of their live shows, in much the same way that The Grateful Dead’s “Dark Star” single amplified and engulfed the planetary aspect of their improvised takes. Some of the material here – the opening “Blood Dries Darker”, the euphoric “Mornin’ Time” – is so lush that lesser brains would’ve succumbed to the appeal of strings and horns but At Echo Lake is more Fifth Dimension than Notorious Byrd Brothers, nowhere more so than on “From The Horn”, a track that is as beautiful in its assault on form as “Eight Miles High” or Swell Maps’ “Midget Submarines”. But despite the instrumental innovation that the album heralds – G. Lucas Cranes’ psychedelic tapework on “Suffering Season”, guest musician Matthew Valentine’s harmonica and modified banjo/sitar on “Time Fading Lines” – At Echo Lake is all about the vocals.
Woods’ secret weapon is the quality of Earl’s voice, osmosing the naive style of Jad Fair, Jonathan Richman and Neil Young while re-thinking it as a discipline and a tradition. Here he is singing at the peak of his powers, in a high soulful style that is bolstered by heavenly arrangements of backing vocals. At Echo Lake feels like the transmission point for teenage garage from the past to the future. Deformed by contemporary experiments, bolstered by magical traditions from the past, it’s the sound of now, right here, At Echo Lake.
-David Keenan/Glasgow/March 2010
Mmoss (New England)
“Local band cultivates psychedelic garage rock and the cassette tape revival on the Seacoast.
Two dueling projectors splashed trippy images on sheets draped behind the stage at The Barley Pub in Dover on Nov. 17. At one projector, a volunteer held a blue rubber bathmat under the light, casting an image of large azure bubbles on the wall behind the band. She continually folded and rotated the mat, making the bubbles appear to pulsate and undulate. At the other projector, another volunteer manipulated a plastic bag full of multi-colored fluids to produce a liquid lightshow on the adjacent wall. The two projected images overlapped in the middle, resulting in a strangely visceral effect, like bodily fluids coursing between throbbing internal organs.
It felt like a hazy flashback to a Jefferson Airplane concert in San Francisco, circa 1967. But the band onstage was Mmoss, a Dover-based quartet of 20-somethings featuring Doug Tuttle on electric guitar, Rachel Neveu on organ and flute, Justin DeArmitt on bass and Brian Levin on drums.
The group offered a psychedelic stew of retro rock, often with harmonized vocals and strong organ presence from Neveu. Even their physical appearance harkened back to the late ’60s, with Tuttle sporting a mustache, Levin wearing a bushy beard and DeArmitt flaring thick sideburns and wavy hair.
And yet it would be an oversimplification to call Mmoss a derivative band. They have aptly been described as “garage folk” and “garage prog,” mixing elements of post-punk, and shoegaze into their droning, psychedelic sound. ” – The Wire
The Wiggins (Houston, TX)
Lo-fi living… THE WIGGINS have played these cool as f*** bands: DANIEL JOHNSTON, GANG GANG DANCE, INDIAN JEWERLY, THE BLACK LIPS, KONG SAUCE, STEREO TOTAL, QUINTRON, FINALLY PUNK, RUA MINX, TIMES NEW VIKING, and GLASS CANDY!+ some others(you know who you are!!)…. played at SXSW 2007, yeah, rad.. And here’s a recent review from PUNK PLANET!!! check it: Part electro surf punk from outer space, part David Lynch outtake, and part home brewed garage opiate, I’m not exactly sure what The Wiggins are, but whatever it is, it’s in’ rad. Think the redefinition of lo-fi, Lou Reed in a garage disposal, Johnny Thunders’vampire alter-ego, leper underwear parties, and successful amateur noir snake charming. Rumor has it there’s just one local Houstoner behind all this madness, which makes the effort even more impressive. This is the stuff of magic that gluttonous hipster vultures and college radio DJs will be getting all weak the knees about once Pitchfork clocks in a 8.372, so do yourself a favor and get it while it’s fresh. (BM)