Midwest Lo-Fi Psycho-delic Attack: A review of Woody Records’ artist sampler CD by Mackenzie Thomas

It’s always tempting for the cooler-than-thou to think that the kids are out of touch with what’s really cool, but I would refer those misguided individuals to Local H’s “All the Kids Are Right,” and its warning line: “They won’t wear your t-shirts now.” Recently, the best thing about Kansas in this day and age, Woody Records, sent a package to Hickman High School’s Academy of Rock, hoping–daring–that some kids would sample the musical merch and find it…good. In fact, it happened. What follows is Hickman 10th grader Mackenzie Thomas’ take on Woody’s CD sampler–she makes the most of an opportunity I dreamed of at her age but had no way of making real (it was ’78–and neither the underground or technology had erupted)–and I think you’ll see a DECENT and fair music writer at work. Enjoy. And visit Woody Records. (The Editor.)

I am quite new to the lo-fi media scene, but the more I keep listening to the Woody Records Compilation disk, the more I begin to like it and understand the hard work put into it. This compilation contains fifteen tracks by various artists from the midwest area who are all a part of Woody Records, a small label out of Kansas. (Check out Woody Records’ Soundcloud page here to sample these artists yourself. – Ed.)

“If A Man Made A Machine” and “Mild Violence” by Fake Fancy, the first two tracks on the album, immediately caught my attention. “If A Man Made A Machine” has a sweet sound to it, and the rhythm moves to the same rate as my heartbeat. The song makes me feel alive. “Mild Violence” is a little heavier, with grooving bass and lyrics that are quick to the point, the singer stating that he has nothing, and no time for anything: “I’ve got nothing, I’ve got nothing, got nothing, but sunshine to keep me wide awake…” After hearing these two tracks, and assuming that a label would put the best of best on a compilation disk, I wouldn’t mind listening to more by Fake Fancy. Their songs seem to be short and sweet, and with fairly understandable lyrics.

It’s really hard for me to wrap my head around why a band would record and release a song where the vocals are so distorted that it’s impossible to understand what the singer is saying. For example, in “Salsa That One,” by Cucumber and the Suntans, the instrumental intro to the song started off nicely, but as soon as the vocals were added in, it became unenjoyable. All I could hear was “Wa, wa, wa ,wa…”– but that could possibly be the actual words to the song. Cucumber and the Suntans, however, redeem themselves with “Lifes,” a short, folksy tune that would be appealing to those listeners who spend their Sundays down at Cooper’s Landing south of Columbia, watching the muddy river flow by, a cold beer in hand and ears tuned into that weekend’s entertainment, usually something along the lines of country/folk/bluegrass/acoustic.

A doom rock/metal band by the name of Merlin takes their music a whole different direction than that of Cucumber and the Suntans. Their 11-minute instrumental track, “Christ Killer,” starts off with acoustic guitar for the first six minutes, then fades into eerie psychedelic rock. After listening to “Christ Killer,” I went on to listen to Merlin’s self-titled album , which consisted of “heavy hours of drinking, smoking, and worshiping the Dark Lord in a beer soaked, incense filled basement to produce our finest release to date. Implementing all the mystical, doomy, psychedelic, evil vibes from everything we’ve put out thus far, we have created a witches’ brew of all the Elements of MERLIN,” according to their Bandcamp page. Throughout their years of playing and making music together, they’ve seemed to maintain the same overall sound in their songs, while still creating new masterpieces each time.

I believe that Woody Records releases this lo-fi material because it’s cheaper on both the artist and the label, but it also sends out a creative vibe that is hard to find in albums by modern rock/pop artists. This album feels more natural because it hasn’t been auto-tuned and doesn’t consist of electronic beats and bass drops. There is definitely something special about lo-fi music–and this album. The Woody Records Compilation would be appealing to anyone who’s really open-minded about music and loves to support local musicians. This disk ranges from punk to electro-indie to psychedelic rock. It has something for everyone!

Mackenzie Thomas review picture

Mackenzie Thomas is a sophomore at David H. Hickman High School in Columbia, Missouri, the bass player in Graveyard Youth, and a member of that school’s Academy of Rock. This is her first professional review, and it’s five times better than my first one.