Woods - At Rear House
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At Rear House

Woods is a duo comprised of Jeremy Earl and Christian DeRoeck. Earl runs both the Fuck It Tapes and Woodsist labels, putting out limited-run lo-fi, noise, and psych releases on both LP and cassette (hell no they're not dead yet). The music of Woods falls into two of those three categories, although it's certainly not as inaccessible as one might expect.

Really, the name of the group is sort of a perfect descriptor of their music, as it sounds like the duo went out into a cabin in the woods somewhere and recorded what could easily be pretty straightforward indie folk tracks if they weren't run through a lo-fi setup and mixed in unique ways. These tracks are earthy in a big way, and it's not just the field recordings that seep into the mix at times. There's a lot of hiss, a lot of slightly overdriven sounds that push things into a slightly psychedelic territory, and the odd, nearly-always-falsetto vocals of the two.

Recording wise, it's probably not too far from some of the work of Mountain Goats, although the instrumentation is certainly more diverse, with the two playing ramshackle drums, hand percussion, both electric and acoustic guitar, and other random oddities. As mentioned above, the album is pretty darn straightforward at times, and songs like "Don't Pass On Me" and "Keep It On" have sing-along qualities that are downright infectious despite their somewhat weird qualities. "Be Still" sounds like The Blithe Sons if they decided to rock out and sing, with birds chirping in the background and wind noise while jangling percussion and splayed-out guitar stretch things out a bit.

On the other side of things, the group breaks things apart in places and the results are much more uneven. "Woods Children, Pt. 2" mixes field recordings of singing kids and a cranky cat over a bongo track. "Love Song For Pigeons" is even more sparse and strange, prickling plucked high guitar notes over filtered vocal moans and brushed cymbals. With about half structured songs and roughly half more songs on the album sounding more like sound experiments, At Rear House is definitely frustrating in places. When they're on (as on the outstanding "Night Creature"), they're stunning, but they're also very unfocused in places. If you're a fan of lo-fi experimentation, there'll be plenty to suit you here, but I can't help but wonder how much better they'd be if they wrangled in some of their meandering indulgences.

rating: 6.2510
Aaron Coleman 2007-03-01 20:19:33