The other day I covered one of my all time, desert island, top five records. Of course, I’m talking about Blonde Redhead’s 2007 LP 23. Today, I’m talking about another one. Like 23 was to Blonde Redhead, Bend Beyond is the 7th studio LP by psychedelic folk band Woods, and it was the last to feature another favorite artist of mine, Kevin Morby, on bass.
Before we dive too far down the rabbit hole, here’s the video coverage of Bend Beyond from my YouTube Channel if you’d rather watch:
Bend Beyond Album Review
Where prior albums had been pretty stripped back and lo-fi, filled with more psychedelic haze, Bend Beyond felt stronger and slightly more produced with a light injection of rock-based hooks, yet with plenty of call backs to the band’s signature sound.
Then again, with the falsetto vocals of Jeremy Earl at the forefront, it’s hard to stray far from that signature.
Not only did it find the band remaking much of their sound, which by the way they continued to do in many of the albums that followed, they did so in a way both highly diverse and entirely enticing.
On one hand, there were powerhouse tracks with deep psychedelic hooks and guitar solos like title track and album opener “Bend Beyond” and the glorious midpoint favorite “Find Them Empty.” I credit both tracks as the ones that took my fondness of the band to an all out obsession.
Here’s “Bend Beyond:”
Hell, throw “Size Meets the Sound” in there as well. And “Cali in a Cup,” though where that one lacks the major psychedelic riffs, it makes up for in solid vocal hooks and a pleasant melody.
On the counter side, there are some truly haunting mellow tunes on Bend Beyond that strike deep chords with me. “It Ain’t Easy” is a folk ballad that tackles the topic of death and the loss and emptiness that it brings. “Something Surreal” is equally as haunting, though with more elusively thematic lyrics.
Listen to “It Ain’t Easy” below:
What I love about Bend Beyond, and what keeps me coming back to it again and again, is just how well rounded it is. There are upbeat tracks, powerful tracks, mellow tracks. And, there are happy songs, sad songs, and everything in between. It’s well rounded in the truest sense of that phrase, touching on the full spectrum of sound and emotion. Given that, I’ll always hold this one close.
The Vinyl Variants of Bend Beyond
There are really only two versions of this on vinyl, both released in 2012. My copy is the gatefold version, which according to Discogs was limited to 3,000 copies. The vinyl of this pressing has yellow labels. The other is not in a gatefold sleeve and was pressed to an unknown quantity. This version has red labels.
For now, there are only three copies available on Discogs, and it’ll run you between $30 and $60.
Take a look at a few more shots of my copy below:
More by Woods
It ain’t easy (see what I did there?) to snag a low price copy of Bend Beyond. The record, which I picked up for a cool $12.99, will currently run you closer to $30 USD on Discogs. However, a few of the band’s more recent releases can be found on Amazon for quite the decent price!
First, if you like Bend Beyond and you don’t check out any of the other albums below, at least give Sun City Eater in the River of Light a chance. It is a truly phenomenal record! The band’s latest, Strange to Explain, dropped in 2020 and is pretty solid as well. And then there’s their 2017 LP Love is Love, which covers hope for the future when it seems all is lost. Finally, I’ll toss in Kevin Morby’s This is a Photograph because he’s on this album, and it was high on my list of the best albums of 2022.
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