The A.V. Club reviews a lot of records every week, butĀ someĀ things still slip through the cracks. Stuff We Missed looks back at notable releases from this year that we didn't review at their time of release.

Brooklyn band Woods is cleaning up its act. As Bend Beyond, the title of the groupā€™s seventh album, suggests, Woods songwriter Jeremy Earl and multi-instrumentalist Jarvis Taveniere have stepped out of their lo-fi comfort zone and gone for tighter and more holistic arrangements. Following 2011ā€™s Sun And Shade, Earl is still dealing with loneliness, describing an ascetic rural existence in upstate New York. Luckily, heā€™s now softening those sometimes-downer sentiments with earworm-worthy melodies.


Before the release of Bend Beyond, Earl and Taveniere talked to Pitchfork about going into the sessions with plans to eschew the spontaneity of their early work. The band has found a sweet spot somewhere between the not-too-polished Americana of early-ā€™70s studio Grateful Dead and the experimental Krautrock of bands like Can or Neu! A pair of mid-album songs in particular reveal the latter campā€™s influence: ā€œCascadeā€ is a spacey white-noise freak-out, while ā€œBack To The Stoneā€ manages to hang on a discordant minor chord and have one of the albumā€™s catchiest choruses.

Ultimately, the songs that hit hardest are Earlā€™s meditations on his fatherā€™s death. ā€œIt gets hard without much to say / I piled stones in lieu of your grave,ā€ he sings in a strained falsetto on ā€œIt Ainā€™t Easy.ā€ Here, acoustic guitars serve as fragile, rhythmic pattern generators, and Woods works well to find the right space for each instrument, maintaining the balance between accuracy and capriciousness that continues to define the band.