At Echo Lake



by Xenophanes STAFF
December 31st, 2010 | 8 replies

Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Woods seem to deftly avoid buckling under the weight of their glaring faults by swallowing them whole; playing up on their weaknesses, and making them part of their sound. Let’s face it, Woods have never been the most technically impressive band, with their previous releases displaying a fairly weak group, and one in dire need of progression. Vocally and instrumentally, there just isn’t much there, the band is largely weak, lurid, and unskilled. However, it somehow all comes together very well, and by all rights better than it should, keeping At Echo Lake from becoming the mess it could have been.

With At Echo Lake, Woods have indeed progressed as a band, but only marginally. The vocalist still can’t hold a steady tone to save his life, and his falsetto is often grating, which is a shame because it is used so very frequently. The rest of the band has brought about the same changes as well, with the guitars being played with only a tad bit more fervor and skill than a young man who has just discovered the instrument. Yeah, there are some charms to found in their playing, but as a whole it all come off as a little underwhelming. In fact, the band itself comes off as underwhelming, with other acts in their niche genre doing exactly what Woods are doing, and doing it much better.

Woods genre is somewhere around straight forward indie-rock with folk leanings. However, they’ve kind of latched on to the whole ‘lo-fi’ craze permeating the genre, and honestly, it helps At Echo Lake quite a bit. The whole affair feels so organic and off the cuff, that it can’t be helped feeling that the band jammed a bit at the recording studio and left things as they were. It’s the minor imperfections in sound that make At Echo Lake better than the sum of its parts. It’s wonderfully campy, like something you would hear next to a bonfire. The warm but hollow feeling makes the album welcoming and personable, and detracts from the band’s weaknesses.

Yet even with its faults, At Echo Lake is charming in its own right. It’s blissfully upbeat, with songs like “Suffering Season” feeling like impelling sunshine. The majority of the album feels like that, making it frighteningly inoffensive. That being said, there is more to the album than cute, upbeat songs however, with “Pick Up” feeling like a slower, more deliberate tune, with the a suffocating production covering the entire track. “From the Horn” is a purely instrumental piece, and has a very apparent “jam band” aesthetic. “Death Rattles” is sang with the feeling of a lovelorn man, with the more meandering mood being conducive to somberness and longing. These tracks actually give quite a lot to At Echo Lake, hoisting it above what would otherwise be a vapid, saccharine affair.

Woods manage to impress with their sophomore release, going above Songs of Shame (if only a little), and creating an intensely enjoyable experience. However, the band’s intrinsic faults and blemishes do in fact bring down the album, with the members themselves being to blame. That aside, the band is clearly improving, with At Echo Lake being evidence of that. Sure they’re baby steps, but it is nice to see Woods, a band with promise, take the initiative to realize their potential.

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user ratings (38)

Comments:Add a Comment 
December 31st 2010


No summary again? Good review X-Man, but probably too folksy for me. Nice dig by the way!

December 31st 2010


yeah this is okay

Staff Reviewer
December 31st 2010


Solid review Xeno. Have a year-ending pos from me. You've had a very productive year (although I only saw the last four months of it to be honest), and I hope it continues into 20111. That's right. The year twenty thousand and one hundred and one.

Happy New Year 2011 from your favourite Malaysian in Canada (let's face it, you prolly only know just me XP)

PS - Suffering Season = Sowing's long lost brother.

December 31st 2010


solid review. Reviewed Songs of Shame, pretty much sums up my thoughts on the band. They have some good melodic moments and hint at being able to write a good album, but constantly fall into the trappings of relying on a particular aesthetic. But enough of this SHIT IT'S NEW YEARS TIME TO GET FUCKED UP

December 31st 2010


I love it when I stumble across a thread and I have already been mentioned in casual conversation. Pos'd

Digging: Belle and Sebastian - How To Solve Our Human Problems Pt. 1

December 31st 2010


Album Rating: 3.5

Such a great album. I was really surprised this album turned out so well after Songs of Shame. "Time Fading Lines" is so pretty

April 13th 2011


Album Rating: 4.0

This was a solid review. At Echo Lake is more concise and much improved from Songs of Shame and I think they could be a GREAT band.

December 23rd 2012


Album Rating: 4.0

I really don't think you get what woods is supposed to be. woods was never looking to be a very technical band. they are more about a simple lofi psychedelic sound. Jeremy (vocals) is not supposed to sound polished and beautiful he's supposed to be gritty and eerie. why would anyone even bother listening to woods if what there looking for is technical ability, why would anyone one to the lofi folk genre at all really

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