For anyone not yet immersed in the New Weird America psychedelic-folk movement, Hush Arbors’ new self-titled album makes for a nifty point of entry. Not only does the project’s central figure, Virginian Keith Wood, serve as a frequent contributor to several of the scene’s other key outfits—Six Organs of Admittance, Sunburned Hand of the Man, Wooden Wand—but his latest disc also stands out for its surprising accessibility.
Compared with 2007 predecessor Under Bent Limb Trees, which played like a midnight crawl through a graveyard, Hush Arbors feels like a post-hibernation awakening. Droney opening instrumental “Water” sets the more energetic mood straightaway, and over the next seven tracks Wood chucks the whispery vocals of Trees and proves he can actually sing, with a voice reminiscent of late-’60s Brit-folk.
- Hush Arbors
- Beyond the Weekly
- Hush Arbors
Okay, so tunes like “Rue Hollow” and “The Light” sound as though they might have been swiped from a minstrel at the nearest Renaissance fair. But along with his apparent passion for the Medieval, Wood has a flair for the melodic. “Follow Closely” rollicks on the back of dueling guitars. “Sand” recalls Robert Pollard’s best psych-pop balladry. And “Gone” wails more savagely than a guy who dabbles in field recordings has a real right to.
In short, it’s a useful primer for the uninitiated. And for those already following along with freak-folk, a less weird but no less interesting installment.