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The Wood Brothers – Loaded (Blue Note, 2008)

The Wood Brothers – Loaded (Blue Note, 2008)
Mp3 / Lame VBR

No, not the classic VU album! Instead a very impressive mixture of alt-folk / jazz / rock from brothers who have sunflower faces!

Actually, the Wood Brothers are musician siblings Chris and Oliver Wood.

Chris was a founding member of Medeski Martin & Wood, and Oliver played second guitar with Tinsley Ellis before forming King Johnson.

Their first studio album, Ways Not to Lose, was released in 2006 on Blue Note Records. Ways Not to Lose was the editors’ number one pick in folk for that year, and the album also made NPR’s “Overlooked 11” of 2006.

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The Wood Brothers are in no particular hurry to impress you. They just take their time and hope that the music will eventually speak for itself. I knew virtually nothing about the Wood Brothers, so I first played “Loaded” with no expectations at all. One by one, the songs glided past, leaving the subtle impression that I wanted to hear it again. Since that first listen, I’ve played this CD numerous times, and it keeps growing on me in ways that I never would have expected. There’s no high-tech production, no musical gimmickry, no forced energy and no pandering to the audience anywhere on “Loaded.” Instead, the songs lope along at a casual pace, enveloping their own space until they seem to physically become a part of it.

“Loaded” is an album built from natural ingredients, with an earthy production built around traditional instrumentation. The songs are full of warmth and space, and benefit greatly from vocals that are expressive yet relaxed. “Postcards From Hell” paints a subtle portrait of a lifer-musician, a man who plays music simply because he must. Oliver Wood beautifully captures the essence of this character, singing “If you ask him how he sings the blues so well, he says `I got a soul that I won’t sell and I don’t read no postcards from hell.” Like most of the songs here, the image is poetic, but straightforward and honest. A similar moment occurs on the title track, which utilizes a few of the many interpretations of the word `loaded’. Accompanied by some brilliant steel guitar, Wood sings, “I was loaded, proud to say I was loaded. Sometimes the tip of my tongue is the barrel of a gun and it’s loaded.” Oliver’s brother Chris (whom you may know from Martin, Medeski & Wood) sings, too, and the brothers usually pair up to write these organic gems.

The album’s pace is well-defined in the chorus of “Fall Too Fast, where the Wood Brothers celebrate the entrapments of passion, singing “Don’t let me fall too fast. I want to fall slowly, I want my fall to last.”” The same can be said of “Loaded.” Sometimes you have to give a record a chance to work its magic. Most programmers will not consider “Loaded” to be `radio friendly’, so don’t expect to hear it that way. Even if you did, a single play of one song is not enough to convey the fullness of this album. If this review piques your curiosity, then you’ll need to take some time and check it out for yourself. As they sing in “Walk Away,” “Time used to make me wait, now time just makes me late.” So far, “Loaded” is my favorite `sleeper’ album of ’08.

A Tom Ryan
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It’s apparent that Chris and Oliver Wood have found a few new ways to build upon the unexpected triumph of 2006’s, Ways Not to Lose. As a debut, the record seemed like a lark and a moment of downtime for Chris Wood, one-third of the ever-popular trio, Medeski, Martin and Wood. But on Loaded, the Wood Brothers have drawn plenty of help from guests such as Pieta Brown and Amos Lee (who delivers a fine vocal on “Angel,” a love song with a rock steady reggae beat), as well as their old chums Billy Martin and John Medeski. More revealingly, the Wood Brothers emphasize the melodies of the folk half of their folk-blues sound throughout, relying less on the weathered blues-rock Oliver perfected in journeyman Atlanta bands such as Kingsized. There are times where the music gets too pretty, but the lighter touch mostly works.

Chris plays a fine bass, and sings backup on much of Loaded, but Oliver is undeniably the star here. His ruminative but never bitter tone and conversational vocals drive songs such as “Still Close” and “Pray Enough.” On “Postcards from Hell,” he describes a homeless musician so talented that people often ask how he sings so well. “I have a soul that I won’t sell/ And I don’t read postcards from hell,” he responds. While unashamedly spiritual, Oliver isn’t a holy roller. On the title track, as he strums a steel guitar, he talks about being so drunk he’s unable to rap to a girl in a bar. Most of Loaded’s tracks concern love of the spiritual and worldly kind, which Chris emphasizes with deep bass plucks. Like a tall glass of lemon iced tea, Loaded balances its sweetness with depth and soul.

– Mosi Reeves

The Wood Brothers perform “Angel”

Part of the Wood Brothers’ cover of “Angel” by Jimi Hendrix at Hal and Mal’s in Jackson, Mississippi on June 5th, 2008.


1. Lovin’ Arms 3:20

2. Postcards From Hell 4:44

3. Pray Enough 3:32

4. Loaded 3:49

5. Walkaway 4:13

6. Don’t Look Back 3:45

7. Twisted 4:08

8. Fall Too Fast 3:49

9. Angel 4:08

10. Buckets Of Rain 3:26

11. Make Me Down A Pallet On Your Floor 3:40

12. Still Close 3:40

Here be wood;

thanks picchionero

Mirror on Lame VBR (H)

The Wood Brothers – Loaded 2008

thanks Miss Demeanour

Big thanks to the original posters

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August 6, 2008 Posted by | Music_Alternative, The Wood Brothers, _MUSIC, _VIDEO | 1 Comment