INCOMING: Speaking For The Trees



“I mean sometimes writers make shit up,” Jarvis Taveniere says somewhat wearily when asked about the perils of being pigeonholed in the press. “But that’s how it starts I guess, right?” Taveniere’s band, Woods, has been tagged with many different genres. Space folk, psych folk — usually something-folk. But Taveniere doesn’t necessarily see it that way. “For me, psychedelia is more about the way the instruments interact,” the Woods guitarist says. “Listening to the first few Leonard Cohen records, they’re mostly just guitar and voice with some light overdubs, but I always think of those records as so psychedelic. It’s a perception thing. You’re sitting there and, like, this big voice is sucking you in and it’s so simple. And then all the sudden the light tremolo guitar comes in out of nowhere.”

To be fair, boxing Woods’ latest album, City Sun Eater in the River of Light, their ninth in ten years, with a single catchphrase-worthy genre is an impossible task. There are many sounds on the new album  that go beyond Woods’ typical blend of woods-sunrock, folk, and experimental. The first thing you notice after hitting play – literally one second into the album’s beginning – is the atypical jazzy horn figure in the first notes of the first song, “Sun City Creeps,” which also happens to be the lead single. Lead singer and songwriter Jeremy Earl calls the album a “city record,” bucolic band name be damned. While walking down Brooklyn’s Greenpoint Avenue during the middle of summer, the title came to him as “this sort of vision that came of the hot, anxious, sunny city day.”

Woods formed soon after Taveniere met lead singer Jeremy Earl while playing in a hardcore band called I Am The Resurrection. It was the early 2000s, and Taveniere had just graduated from SUNY Purchase and Earl was in his senior year. There was an instant connection. “I was like, whatever I do musically, me and this guy can get along,” says Taveniere. “He’s up for it. He can handle it.”  The band name stems from Earl’s childhood, growing up in the “small rural town” of Warwick, in upstate New York, before moving to Brooklyn. “I have this constant love affair — on again off again — with upstate, where I’m constantly back and forth and I kind of need to be in both [New York City and upstate New York] to recharge from the other.” Taveniere concurs: “”We were both from upstate New York. I always thought of the woods as this place where I could do whatever I wanted. When I was younger it was where you’d play games or make a bike track with some jumps and then you get old and you start smoking weed and taking acid in the woods, and it just became this safe hiding place where you could just explore.” — TOM BECK