We gave it a B+
Like many moderately successful indie-rock bands these days, Brooklyn psych-rockers Woods have found a niche and are sticking to it. Since 2006, the group has put out nine albums of folk-tinged psychedelia — the type of stuff that sounds straight out of a Haight-Ashbury jam session circa 1967 — and their latest, City Sun Eater in the River of Light, is another accomplished album that’s just strong enough to differentiate itself from the pack.
The group’s studio expertise soars to new heights on City. And while the songwriting may skew generic, tracks like “The Take” are spiced up with trumpet fanfares, syncopated percussion grooves, thumping bass and distorted guitar riffs — there’s a lot to digest. Opening cut “Sun City Creeps” is even denser and moves through multiple styles seamlessly. It’s no wonder why Real Estate’s Martin Courtney tapped Woods bassist Jarvis Taveniere to produce his solo album, or that the band operates a respected indie label: They make solid records, and City is no exception.
Most importantly, when the band is on, they’re on. The spooky “Can’t See At All” sounds like a hippie’s reading of James Brown, while “I See In the Dark” is among the best psychedelic freakouts Woods has in their catalog. And the lush euphoria of “Morning Light” should cement its place on any wake-and-bake playlist. Highlights like these make City a worthy addition to the Woods saga and offer proof that their tried-and-true formula doesn’t need much tweaking.