One of the many highlights of the Whole Children benefit concert held at the Calvin Theatre on June 21 was the appearance of area resident and Sonic Youth co-founder Thurston Moore.
Performing with his band Demolished Thoughts (titled after his recent solo album of the same name), Moore treated those in attendance to a festive set full of psychedelic folk jams, which frequently featured thrilling crescendos and heroic displays of acoustic guitar prowess.
However, perhaps lost in the shuffle of a night that also included appearances by fellow indie stars – Henry Rollins, Lou Barlow, and J Mascis – was the on-stage presence of musician and Demolished Thoughts band member Keith Wood (see photo).
As the primary force behind indie rock act Hush Arbors, Wood is more than just your average sideman. And after witnessing him play live, I was given new reason to revisit his most recent studio album Yankee Reality, which was released by Thurston Moore’s Easthampton-based Ecstatic Peace record label in 2009.
While I admit that I was none too blown away by the record as a whole during my first listening, I still feel now, as I did then, that many of the tracks manage to reside in a realm far above the usual dreck that typically lands on my desk next to my morning coffee (which, by the way, is far from dreck, and absolutely delicious).
For example, the song “Coming Home” ambles along nicely as a country rocker with a slight ‘60s tinge and “For While You Slept” (featuring guitar courtesy of record producer J Mascis) begins briefly with the opening riff from Tom Petty’s “American Girl” before evolving into a strident march.
“Hold out / your lovely hands/ Take this weary man,” Wood sings. And upon hearing the words it’s not difficult to picture a pair of lovers walking arm-in-arm towards the sunset.
Watch the video for Yankee Reality track “Coming Home” here:
Elsewhere, album opener “Day Before” ably sets the stage for what follows. Namely, Wood’s voice remains in the spotlight as acoustic guitars strum around him and cymbal crashes drive the tune home.
Though overall there doesn’t seem to be enough material that truly grabs a listener’s attention, as a testament to the single-minded creativity of an artist who’s not afraid to follow his own course, Yankee Reality is that rare work that manages to create a world all of its own.
Or, according to fellow musician and label mate James Jackson Toth (of Wooden Wand fame):
“Yankee Reality is a credit to Keith Wood’s vast talent as a songwriter and performer, but also, stands as a shining example of his breadth of focus and versatility. How many fools out there love Merle Haggard, The Dead and Dinosaur Jr equally? I know one.”
For more information on Hush Arbors or to see future tour dates please visit www.husharbors.co.uk.
And, don’t forget to follow the Northeast Underground on Twitter @NE_Underground. Plus, check out concert footage featuring artists like Dinosaur Jr., Garland Jeffreys, and more on the Underground’s official YouTube page.