As you can hear below on "Cali in a Cup," Woods have a way with breezy jams that seem to belong more to the west coast than to upstate New York, with strum-along grooves, sweet harmonica, and muted fuzz guitar. Front man Jeremy Earl sings the band's cozy, lived-in melodies in a modest, candied falsetto that seems to be a love-it-or-hate-it proposition for some folks (my wife hates it in no uncertain terms), but I'm not one of them; I find it acceptable but don't adore it.
The terse instrumental "Cascade" collides the Grateful Dead and Krautrock, the title track recalls the stomping groove and wailing leads of Crazy Horse, "Size Meets the Sound" jacks up the ringing Rickenbacker twang of the Byrds with blammo soloing, and "It Ain't Easy" is delicate folk-pop a la Simon & Garfunkel. But enumerating the album's many references isn't that much fun—certainly not as much fun as just taking in its mood of sunshiny joy. Woods bring the same feeling to their live show, where they occasionally get sidetracked by Summer of Love jamming. On each record they've sounded more and more focused, though, so with any luck their live gigs will soon follow suit.
Woods, "Cali in a Cup"
Noah Kaplan Quartet, Descendants (Hatology)
Various artists, The Karindula Sessions (Crammed Discs)
Ted Curson, Blue Piccolo (Why Not)
Mats Eilertsen, Skydive (Hubro)
Gabor Szabo, Jazz Raga (Light in the Attic/Impulse)