A secluded approach to writing and recording music can yield something authentic and all to its own — it’s a commonly known practice for bands or solo artists to depart to the mountains, the random boondocks or maybe even paradise, determined to create or polish new material.
But with lead vocalist and songwriter Jeremy Earl, based near the Catskills and Shawangunks, and his longtime bandmate Jarvis Taveniere living on the West Coast, the familial posse known as Woods has found a way to not only thrive but become a gold standard for what can be achieved by independent musicians, as seen recently at Comet Ping Pong.
Formed in Brooklyn way back in 2004, Woods just recently released Perennial, its 12th studio album and a clandestine work of art representing its progression into one of the most visionary and alluring outfits making music today.
Listen to the newest Woods album, Perennial, via Spotify:
Rarely a touring band these days, Woods hit the road for an early fall string of dates, bringing this enigmatic and evolving squad to DC on the night of Sept. 26 for an astonishing set in the small backroom of Comet Ping Pong.
Earl’s peaceful accent and Taveniere’s thrilling presentation on the electric guitar, along with Jeremy’s own refined guitar sound, give the Woods catalogue its distinct escapist quality, a truly lasting form of psychedelic folk that is unlike anything else heard today but undeniably addictive upon first listen.
In the concrete confines of Comet, uncommon compositions like the 2014 album title track “With Light and with Love” exploded on a dime to show the incredible precision and wild, riveting interplay of guitars and other instruments on the stage. And tunes like “Where Do You Go When You Dream?” from 2020’s Strange to Explain made a case that this band can concoct forever songs, those fit for fantasy and destined to score the minds of listeners.
Watch the video for Woods’ “Between the Past” via the official Woodsist YouTube channel:
Often referred to as the “Woods Family Band,” the group has morphed over time — some noteworthy members have contributed to tours and recordings along the way — but Jeremy and Jarvis have nourished their longtime project to vitality from separate coasts, exploring and fine-tuning Woods melodies and harmonies to fulfilling effect, particularly across the last five records.
All of those have been released on Woodsist, the independent label Earl founded in 2006 and has operated ever since; the label is also the host of the annual Woodsist Festival held in Accord, NY. With Jeremy helping bring more than 100 albums to the ears of choosy indie fans — including Kurt Vile’s solo premiere — and Taveniere emerging in recent years as a regarded, go-to mixer and producer, the reality and quality of Woods’ offerings is that much more impressive as these two hyper-influential fellows have made a permanent impression on modern music.
In its current touring form, Woods includes longtime keyboardist Kyle Forester, drummer Ryan Jewell and bassist Matt O’Keefe, and together this squad brought out the best in not only the new album but a handful of Woods favorites to make the night that much more memorable for those wise enough to be there last Tuesday.
Revisit Woods’ 2014 album “With Light and with Love” via Spotify:
Sharing some of the most exhilarating cuts from Perennial, including “Weep” and the stunning foray that is “Another Side,” Woods showed itself to be a masterful group testing its own limits and, in the process, absolutely bewildered a group of enthusiastic onlookers.
Earl, Taveniere and crew weren’t necessarily planning to encore, but they were essentially cornered, so they succumbed to the warm crowd and delivered anyhow with “New Light,” capping the night with a rescuing, timeless hymnal and a reminder of the beauty and power in this band’s songs.
With Light and With Love
Sun City Creeps
Between the Past
Where Do You Go When You Dream?
Little Black Flowers
Is It Honest?
White Winter Melody
Moving to the Left
Anna St. Louis Setlist
Anna St. Louis