Woods Sun and Shade

Woods Sun and Shade
Considering frontman Jeremy Earl runs burgeoning indie label Woodsist during the day, it's amazing that he's somehow managed to uphold the routine of an album a year since 2006 with his NYC-based four-piece, Woods. Their sixth album, Sun and Shade, builds upon the more coherent style of songwriting that made up 2009's breakthrough Songs of Shame and last year's At Echo Lake. Not a whole lot has changed in a year, as their back porch folk collides with jangling West coast pop like a warm, patchwork quilt. But Woods always keep some dichotomizing surprises in their back pockets for good measure. The opening, sun-fried pop trifecta falls into a comfy pattern, but then they interrupt with "Out of the Eye," a lengthy instrumental piece of humming Krautrock that upon ending immediately falls back into pop territory with the raggedly melodic "Hand It Out." Later, another extended instrumental (the sparse, bongo-led "Sol y Sombra") enters the fold to fulfil their itch to jam. These dividing moments don't throw the listener, as Woods have developed the skill to dissolve these digressions into their melting pot of disparate sounds. Where Sun and Shade differs most from their back catalogue is in the production, which is no longer presented in crackling lo-fidelity. It's a slight modification that, thankfully, doesn't jeopardize this band's impressive consistency rolling out album after album with the utmost ease. (Woodsist)