Seattle combo The Redwood Plan conquered hearts, ears, and dancing feet with its 2010 full-length Racing Towards the Heartbreak. Propelled by succinct, melodic hooks and riffs, songs like "Push" leapt forth from the speakers and defied listeners to forget them. On Green Light Go, the music of the Seattle quartet evolves further, revealing a denser, dynamic, and more eclectic sound, one that more fully reflects the aesthetics of the musicians behind it. "It's still very much the Redwood Plan, but bigger and more dynamic," insists front woman Lesli Wood. A synthesis of punk rock energy and bristling electronic sounds, one that accommodates both guitarist Sydney Stolfus' background in metal bands and Lesli's riot grrrl roots.
There is simply more going on, all the time, on Green Light Go. More melodies to lodge in the noggin, more textures to tease the ear, more moving pieces whirring in interlocking rhythms. Twists and turns abound. On opening "Panic On," dramatic electronic textures give way to a frenetic dance beat and Lesli's exhortations to seize the moment, while the unfolding instrumental intro of the chugging "Something Like This" suddenly subsides to spotlight an unusually vulnerable vocal performance. From the jittery rhythms and percussive fillips underscoring the nervous energy of "Your Fair Share," to the lightning fast keyboard lines and distinctive bass countermelody running through "Slam," every element of Green Light Go works in tandem.
The making of the Redwood Plan's second full-length album proved more protracted than the fierce urgency of its sound might suggest. The band started working with longtime producer Martin Feveyear (The Presidents of the United States of America, Brandi Carlile, Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter) at Jupiter Studios, with a completely different batch of songs, two years ago. Then family matters dictated that all the players take some time off. For Christmas 2011, Lesli's husband, bassist Larry Brady, gave her a copy of Ableton Live. She promptly vanished down the rabbit hole, committing herself to learning every aspect of the popular music-making software with her trademark drive and tenacity.
Three months later, she had a whole new set of songs, more variegated and stratified than the material previously earmarked for the band's second album. With a tour supporting Mr. Gnome fast approaching, she pressed her band mates—Stolfus, Brady, and drummer Betty ST—into animating this new material, transforming Lesli's multi-layered home demos into fully realized Redwood Plan songs.
"I didn't give the band much time to think about things," she admits. At first, the members struggled to figure out how to inject their own skills and strengths into the complexities of these unfamiliar songs, but the payoff justified any growing pains. Via the thoughtful interplay of these four distinctive, dynamic musicians, the Redwood Plan of Green Light Go comes off as more than the sum of its individual players. "It sounds as if we brought in three or four more band members and made them all do fucked-up shit, too."
The enthusiasm and drive informing both the inception and execution of Green Light Go reveals much about Lesli Wood and her band mates. Here is a young woman that demanded piano lessons at age four, and was booking shows in the sixth grade. Even as she studied law and pursued a parallel career as a personal injury lawyer that eventually saw her elevated to senior associate at her firm, Lesli continues to oversee every aspect of the D.I.Y. band—just as she had in her previous outfit, Ms. Led—from booking tours to releasing records.
The Redwood Plan circa 2012 sounds darker and stronger than before. Myriad emotions spring forth from Green Light Go, but the one that rings out loudest is joy, the sheer joie de vivre of a band swept up and carried aloft by the rush of forging ahead—as it should be. From here the Redwood Plan only intends to keep pushing onward and upward. As lyrics like "Latest Excuse" and "Panic On" reinforce, it's really the only way Lesli Wood knows. "I need to maintain that momentum to be happy," she concludes, her face beaming. Crank up Green Light Go and share the joy.
"Just the kind of energy and attitude that the Seattle scene was missing. ...The Redwood Plan blew me away"
- John Richards: KEXP 90.3FM
"Riveting, energetic, dance punk music"
- Kevin Cole, KEXP 90.3FM
"I didn't think Lesli Wood could sound more energetic, or write songs more pointed and concise than she did in Ms. Led, but she proved me wrong."
- Kurt B. Reighley: writer: MSN Music, The Advocate, The Stranger
"Makes me want to dance and kick some ass. Possibly at the same time."
"one of Seattle's greatest dance punk bands."
- Megan Seling, The Stranger