Noise Pollution: Woods Survive & Dijon Emerges

Noise Pollution returns with a look at new albums from Woods, Dijon, Peaking Lights, and White Denim.
By    May 22, 2020

Will Schube is a spicy brown mustard kind of guy.

WoodsStrange to Explain

Woods is like that cousin you occasionally forget about or just don’t see that often, but whenever you call them or reunite at some awful family reunion, it’s like you were never apart. Reaching metaphors aside, Woods is the best unassuming band on the planet. I mean that only as the highest of compliments. Overconsumption kills and we’re all being held face down into a toilet bowl of indefinite content. God bless the new Woods album, which reminds us to take a step back and listen to all the Woods albums because they’re brilliant and a forever-underappreciated escapee of early-2010s Brooklyn bands.

For all the shit that’s gone wrong in the past year or so, Woods’ resilience is particularly astounding. After recording the phenomenal, superlative Purple Mountains’ with David Berman, the band was set to tour as his backing band. After his tragic death, the group decided to do what they’ve done almost every year for the past 15: record a new album. Strange to Explain is looser than its predecessor, Love is Love. Playful isn’t the right word, but there’s a discernible return to the band’s songwriting roots.

Their last few LPs have found them moving towards a jammier, Dead-inspired style―which, it should be said, fucking rules―but on Strange to Explain, the band uses simplicity to accent the poignancy of Jeremy Earl’s lyrics. The album is a feat, even more so for a band that has a discography full of them. As it’s always been, Woods is here, and there’s a lot of comfort in that.

DijonHow Do You Feel About Getting Married?

Dijon makes the kind of nebulous post-pop that everyone seems to be making these days, but he just does it better than everyone else. His sense of melody is topped only by his sense of pace and restraint. He’s released an array of singles, each existing in a slowly expanding universe. His voice is undeniably beautiful, just easy and natural and able to move in ways most voices don’t. His new EP, How Do You Feel About Getting Married? is light but deeply impactful, constantly creating a future of music that the singer redefines with each note.

Regarding the EP, Dijon said the following: “Romance is all over these little stories, and so is disappointment and so is desperation; and they are little stories. And maybe they all talk to each other?” It was inspired by close friends stopping by and Lucinda Williams and Little Feat and Burial. That list makes no sense on paper, but when you listen to the EP, it’s kind of stunningly accurate.

How Do You Feel About Getting Married? immerses itself in its own aesthetic, which feels sort of like being awake at 4 AM as the booze and drugs are wearing off but you still chase that fleeting feeling and grab one more glimmer before it fades away entirely. The EP is that last moment before the sun sets for good, right before purple and orange give way to an unending dark. Dijon is enamored by both perspectives, the silence of night and the promise of a new day.

Peaking LightsE S C A P E

Peaking Lights are the sort of distinctly LA band that can move anywhere in the world and still remind you of a particularly dreadful day on the 405 made lighter by their songs blasting harder than the A/C. Their psychic, delirious reinterpretations of pop music are like the memory of a memory, a step removed from the intensity of the experience but vibrant and enjoyable nevertheless. The group is now based in Europe, but the spirit of LA dances throughout all of their work.

Perhaps it’s simply the time they spent in the city crafting krautrock-imbued dance jams and droning meditations that found a home and audience in LA; perhaps it’s personal affiliation with 936 and the spaced out compositions that made experimental music feel relatable and digestible; maybe it’s something else. Regardless, E S C A P E, the band’s first full-length since 2017, is a balm.

More straightforward than some of the duo’s early releases, E S C A P E is dance-obsessed and unrelentingly groovy. It’s the most streamlined version of the band to date―less experimental with the jams and more willing to show off Indra Dunis’ mesmerizing vocals. E S C A P E is the perfect album for this summer, based off of title alone. It’s dark and stormy with just enough energy to keep you upright. Peaking Lights are skeptical mystics, and on E S C A P E, they finally give into their own power.

White DenimWorld As a Waiting Room

White Denim are the pride of Austin, the last vestige of an old world before Amazon and Apple and Google and Indeed invaded and turned Texas’ weirdest city into another 21st century dystopian playground for the rich and almost-rich. They’ve been churning out good-to-great albums every few years since 2007 and have remarkably survived band turnover, city gentrification, and a worldwide epidemic since they debuted with Let’s Talk About It in ’07. For the just released World as a Waiting Room, though, the group had to figure out a way to make an album without being within six feet of each other. The results are predictably stellar.

The group has a studio in East Austin that also occasionally serves as a hub for experimental and jazz concerts, which made tracking the album a possibility at all. The goal was to record an album in 30 days, from writing to mastering and everything in between. Why not throw a pandemic into the fold to mix things up a bit more? Thanks to individual tracking techniques, a shit load of hand sanitizer, and a collection of home studios, the group was able to pull it off.

Remarkably, World as a Waiting Room isn’t just some publicity stunt. It’s one of White Denim’s best albums to date, a 30 minute tour de force of everything the band does well, from disorienting guitar licks that ascend into ecstasy to off-kilter rhythm sections somehow in lockstep amidst the chaos. Austin may never recover and exist as it used to be, but as long as White Denim keep making music (especially like this), there will be some memory of the way the city once was.

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