Nine albums in, ;Woods ;have changed course a few times, albeit marginally. Just compare “Sun City Creeps,” the opening track of the upcoming ;City Sun Eater in the River of Light, ;to the opener from their ;last album: ;”Shepherd,” with its Sweetheart of the Rodeo ;pedal steel, was warm and beautiful. ;”Sun City Creeps” ;veers away from country sheen, instead riding a sort of world music noir. A horn section opens things on a gentle, mournful note, and their staccato guitar and languid horns ;nod to old Ethiopian jazz records, mariachi bands, and Ennio Morricone soundtracks. For most other bands, these sort of aesthetic shifts from record to record rarely work, and worse, tend to look like desperate attempts at staying vital.
Most other bands aren’t Woods, though. And given their pace—nearly a record a year for 11 years—it can be easy to forget that they’re phenomenal musicians. But when the song calls for it, they’re expertly flashy, coming through with a frantic electric blues solo at the song’s midpoint. They’re arguably even better when hammering out the details—how they suddenly double up a melody, the way Jeremy Earl’s trembling voice adds tension, how they shift from minimalism to their all-hands-on-deck funk jam, and so on. It’s thoroughly captivating. Considering how many genres you could peg in “Sun City Creeps”—and despite how they’ve never made a song quite like it before—it’s impressive that this sounds definitively like Woods. Perhaps Earl’s vocals provide a through line, but it’s heartening to see this band consistently head in new directions without ever losing their voice.
Read more at: Pitchfork