Woods & Spectrals – Deaf Institute, Manchester – 15th March 2011

Posted on March 19, 2011

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written for High Voltage

Manchester’s Deaf Institute played host to three bands tonight as Woods, Spectrals and The Doozer were each given an opportunity to impress a room full of organic food lovers and long beards. Each band had their own approach and each band had differing fortunes on the night.

First up was The Doozer, an unspeakably bad Cambridge two-piece with few ideas. Monotonous music that differed very little from track to track was coupled with vocals that were so poor it was cringeworthy, and they quickly alienated themselves from their audience. What’s most staggering about them is their audacity; it really does take a large dose of chutzpah to climb up onto a stage and play songs of this calibre. Their odd attempt at making left-field pop fell firmly on it’s face, boring the pants off everyone unlucky enough to be in attendance during the early stages of the evening.

Spectrals have become the resident support act for the Brooklyn bands that regularly descend on the Deaf Institute and each time they impress greatly. Their hazy, 60s influenced sound is always a joy to listen to and they look set to make a serious breakthrough soon. Louis, the driving force of creativity within the band, is an excellent songwriter, ably assisted by a young guitarist whose ear for a sweet guitar line is exceptional. They wear their retro influences with pride, bringing together sounds of the early-60‘s to create modern garage-pop songs that ooze style. A touch too much reverb blighted Louis’ vocal on the night, making it difficult to decipher the lyrics and fully connect with the songs, however, this small technicality did not detract too much from an otherwise stellar performance.

Finally, Woods took centre stage and delivered a set of compelling psychedelic folk numbers. Here in England, Woods are one of Brooklyn’s least well-known music acts but their live sound stands up to the best New York has to offer. They are so well-tuned and in-synch with one another that they could seemingly play all day, with their penchant for extending songs in a live format a formidable technique. An incense stick burned slowly throughout as they conjured an atmosphere that captured the imagination of each and every hipster packed into this brilliant small music hall. Jeremy Earl is a star performer, with a falsetto vocal that swoops and dives in unexpected fashion. His melodies are brilliantly off-kilter, constantly taking the listener by surprise, with such feeling and emotion that it’s difficult not to warm to him instantly. Jarvis Taveniere was the most accomplished musician of the night, doubling up on the drums and a Stratocaster guitar with aplomb. His guitar tone was excellent and his playing superb, a hallmark of Woods’ overall sound. Each song was packed with heartfelt honesty, musical brilliance and artistic design, making this a performance to be remembered.

words by Rob Pollard

photograph Sam Ellis

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Posted in: Music