Woods announce their new album, Perennial, out September 15th on Woodsist, and share the single, “Between The Past.” Formed in 2004, Woods have matured into a true independent institution, above and below the root, reliably emerging every few years with new music that grows towards the latest sky. Operating the Woodsist label since 2006 and curating the beloved homespun Woodsist Festival for the musical universe they’ve built, Perennial is the sound of a band on the edge of their 20th anniversary and still finding bold new ways to sound like (and challenge) themselves.
The 11 songs on Perennial are both far-out and comforting, like the Mellotronic cloud-hopping of “Between The Past,” and sometimes just plain comforting, like the widescreen snowglobe fantasia of the instrumental “White Winter Melody,” touched by Connor Gallaher’s pedal steel. The accompanying ‘Between The Past” video, directed by Ian McNaughton, is a psychedelic split-screen voyage.
Perennial grew from a bed of guitar, keyboard, and drum loops by Jeremy Earl, a form of winter night meditation that evolved into an unexplored mode of collaborative songwriting. With Earl’s starting points, he and bandmates Jarvis Taveniere and John Andrews convened, first at Earl’s house in New York, then at Panoramic House studio in Stinson Beach, California, site of sessions for 2020’s Strange To Explain. With a view of the sparkling Pacific and tape rolling, they began to build, jamming over the loops, switching instruments, and developing a few dozen building blocks.
Woods have long used the studio as a place of songwriting, naming 2007’s At Rear House after their shared dwelling and recording space. But Perennial also carries with it an even longer view of Woods. Emerging from the process alongside the music was Earl’s reflection that “perennial plants and flowers are nature’s loops,” an idea rolling under the album’s lyrics like the loops themselves. It certainly applies to the band, too, who have quietly tended to a long, committed project of being a band in the weird-ass 21st century, both individually and communally. Though separated by coasts, the communicable spirit carries through Earl, Taveniere, and Andrews’ collaboration, a living embodiment of the freedoms rediscovered every time a new collectively created piece of music emerges.
The songs on Perennial are in classic Woods mode, — shimmering, familiar, fractionally unsettling — but with the half-invisible infinity boxes of Earl’s loops burbling beneath each like a mysterious underground source. From source to seed to bloom, each loop unfolds into something unpredictable. For nearly two decades, Woods have survived subgenres, anchored in the fertile soil below hashtags like lo-fi and freak-folk and psychedelic and indie, and built a shared history that’s something to marvel at.
Perennial carries all of this, shaped by decades, but made in the moment, and here right now. The smell of the flowers doesn’t remain, but sometimes the flowers do.