Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Wooden Shjips-2 Albums

Wooden Shjips-Vol. I (2008)

"Vol. 1 is a collection of Wooden Shjips’ vinyl singles. The Shrinking Moon for You 10” has been long sold out after its run of 300 was given out for free (and now fetch $100 plus on EBay). The song – maybe the band’s best – features a Kraut-cum-hips groove and guitar oscillating between blistering squeal and low-frequency breakup, reminiscent of legendary Japan psychsters Les Rallizes Denudes. “Dance, California (Radio Edit)” from the 7” of the same name is another highlight, built out of a Steppenwolf-style riff and Middle Eastern-vibing staccato soloing. The “SOL ’07” 7” is the final component. It’s title track mixes it up with some heavily echoed vocals and trumpet, but at 10 minutes is overlong for a song built from a single phrase.

In a sort of paradox, Vol. 1, as a collection of singles, showcases the band’s best work, but finds itself limited as an LP statement. Little figurative license need be taken to say that Wooden Shjips are a one-note act (“Death’s Not Your Friend” contains the only real chord progression on the record). As individual tracks, these distill infectious psych bliss. But the record lacks the range of gears its length requires. This is great as a catch-all for one of today’s most exciting psych-rock acts, but we’ll probably have to wait for the next studio full-length to see just how much of that promise will be realized."

Sail 1

Wooden Shjips-Wooden Shjips (2007)

"On their self-titled full-length debut, the Shjips drop five tracks of throbbing hypno-groove that weds influences as divergent as Suicide and Hawkwind into a mass that manages to soothe and shred.

“We Ask You to Ride” is the most overtly ’60s sounding track here, with a three-note organ lick and spoken/sung vocals that sound like a particularly tuned-in Jim Morrison. Meaty-fingered bass lines, metronomic drumming and simple organ motifs get the proceedings swaying before in-the-red guitars – turned just a touch too high – kick things into overdrive.

“Losin’ Time” moves at a pace that could almost be called lively, though without sacrificing any of the spell-casting repetition of the opener. “Lucy’s Ride” is heavy rock haze played loud and hard with vocals groaning through a mask of echo. “Blue Sky Bends” features an appropriately epic roundhouse blues riff played to rattle teeth. Everything is steeped in reverb and blown-out speaker hum except the bass, which lumbers on as thick and warm as drying blood.

The album ends with “Shine Like Suns,” 10-minutes of kraut bliss that plays like the soundtrack for a road trip straight into the heart of an overdose.

Whatever their potion, Wooden Shjips have hit upon a sound that distills psychedelic rock influences from the Summer of Love onward into the rarest of brews: originality."

Sail 2

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