HEY! I haven’t mentioned this to you, The Internet At Large, quite yet, but college radio is already all over this thing. This album went for adds last month and has already started climbing up the charts, tying for #17 Most Added then so far getting up to #167 in its second week thus far on the Top 200! Onward and upward I say…this is a Top 50 album if ever I heard one! LET’S GO!
I first met Woodpecker something like four years ago (before The Band Mom was even a thing!), around the release of their first album, and I fell in love and have been pursuing them ever since. And now finally here we are, together at last!! They’re the kind of Americana (mostly bluegrass-y) that transcends its genre by being smart, witty, quirky, funny, and beautiful, by turns and sometimes all at once together.
PLUS, Woodpecker’s frontman Josh Steinbauer is also a film dude, which leads to them having a bunch of really great videos: like check out this creepy one with a weird pizza guy in it for (in my opinion) their best song, “Every Boy in NY”, and also this one for their instrumental “Processional” (those are both also embedded below). Oh also and did I mention that Nate Kinsella is in this band, he of Birthmark and cousin of Tim and Mike Kinsella (Joan of Arc and Owen, whose albums he also played on, plus the legendary Cap’n Jazz)?!? So many reasons to love Woodpecker, it’s hard to pick just one!!!
Once you’ve partaken in the charmingly-bizarre cinematics of Woodpecker’s latest clip “Every Boy In New York,” it should come as little surprise that the band formed nearly a decade ago via craigslist to score a short film. What started as something of a lark, involving bluegrass covers of classic punk and hip hop tunes, has snowballed into the Americana-infused present tense singularity of Thanks Anyway. The Brooklyn-based septet calls forth the spirit of their hometown through a left- field indie-folk hue one wouldn’t generally associate with NYC. Veterans of film and music festivals such as CMJ, Rooftop Films, McCarren Park’s Pool Parties and Bluergrass Music Festival, Woodpecker claims a diverse membership, with previous bands spanning from Joan of Arc to Muchas Bluegracias, from Nihiti to The Whistling Wolves. Their combination of banjo ramble with cello fluidity loosens up the listener to filmmaker frontman Josh Steinbauer’s conversation-like narratives.
Woodpecker’s 2008 debut, F-hole, was highlighted by the fractured realism of “So You’re The Guy Who’s Going To Marry My Ex-Girlfriend.” That manifesto is delivered as a mature, matter-of-fact statement about a unique stage in a relationship which somehow manages to fit in a pedophile joke without sacrificing the song’s sincerity. The band’s sense of humor is a gentle blanket wrapped around the somber reflections of their acoustic oeuvre — Woodpecker makes serious music without taking themselves seriously.
Flash forward to 2012 with the anticipated sophomore effort Thanks Anyway, and we find Woodpecker at the height of a newly-crafted subgenre. The punk energy of Andrew Jackson Jihad collides with Sufjans Stevens-inspired alt-folk, ultimately culminating into a fully-realized tapestry all their own. With half the musicians doubling as filmmakers, the melodies often play like a soundtrack to Steinbauer’s chronicles. Intelligent dissections of affected drama (“Movie People”) unfold alongside love songs drenched in the blood curdling screams of zombie victims (“Married To The Movies”). Like a collection of shorts filmed on location, their hometown breathes behind them in tracks like “Old Photos of Coney Island In The Queens Museum V. Coney Island This Afternoon” and “If You See Something..”; the latter focusing on that definitive moment when one must choose between approaching or ignoring an ex spotted in the subway. Clever one-liners make themselves known for an instant, prior to their envelopment in lush strings and pensive hooks. From the wistful melody of “Every Boy In New York” to the sonic bombast of Lynch/Badalamenti inspired “Black Lodge,” Woodpecker has staked its claim through the warm melancholia of Thanks Anyway.
RIYL: Avett Brothers, early Sufjan Stevens, The Mountain Goats
Start With: 1, 4, 8 FCC: 5, 9, 10 (CLEAN EDITS INCLUDED IN DOWNLOAD)
** Unfortunately 2 of my favorite tracks have bad words in ’em, so make sure ask me how to grab the download which has clean edits wrapped up with the regular tracks if your station has to follow those pesky “laws”.**
Sweet video for that instrumental track “Processional”:
Bonkers video for the Hit Single “Every Boy In NY”:
Contact me for a download link if you’re a radio rep!