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Wooden Shjips

Wooden Shjips

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Album Review

The Wooden Shjips — Ripley Johnson, guitar and vocals; Dusty Jermier, bass; Omar Ahsanuddin, drums, and Nash Whalen, organ — play minimal, droning, garage band-meets-Krautrock psychedelia full of long instrumental passages and pounding, primitive rhythms. Often, tunes are based on two or three notes that are cycled into an hypnotic pulse. The short — five tracks, 35 minutes — album alternates between focused song-like pieces and long, free-flowing jams recorded on the fly in the studio. "We Ask You to Ride" grabs you right out of the box with its Zombies-like beat — think "She's Not There," and a spooky organ that floats out of the speakers like the ghost of garage bands past before Johnson's screaming guitar attacks your ears like a dentist's drill hitting a raw nerve. The echoes of Johnson's whispered vocals drop brooding Jim Morrison-like images into the mix before Whalen's organ takes the tune home with a short minimal solo. Listening through headphones, you can hear the music spinning though space and time, bouncing from ear to ear, just like it did on the psychedelic discs of yesteryear. "Losin' Time" is a noisy track dominated by grinding guitar, garbled vocals, and a minimal rhythm. Another shrieking solo from Johnson is the only thing that breaks the monotony. "Lucy's Ride" lightens things up, the pulse is still minimal, and the vocals unintelligible, but here Johnson's guitar takes flight with a long, spacy solo that spins lightly out into interstellar space, drowning in its own echoing overtones. As expected, "Blue Sky Bands" is a slow blues jam, with more universe-spanning guitar work, and garbled hootchie-cootchie vocals. The track concludes with another howling, feedback-laden excursion from Johnson. "Shine Like Suns" is the slowest track, a free-form noise fest that unspools slowly, with guitar, keys, and those echoing vocals all struggling to break free of the murky mix. Your appetite for this kind of jamming will probably have a lot to do with your age, knowledge of musical history, and tolerance for self-indulgence. ~ j. poet, Rovi

Biography

Formed: 2003 in San Francisco, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

San Francisco's enigmatically named Wooden Shjips play a minimal, droning brand of garage-styled psychedelia with a noticeable '60s Krautrock influence. The band's vocals slip beneath waves of throbbing minimal rhythms, while fuzztone guitar and shrieking organs jump to the foreground. When bandleader Ripley Johnson assembled the group in 2003, he wasn't interested in playing gigs or becoming famous; rather, his original intention was to find a group of non-musicians for the purposes of creating...
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Wooden Shjips, Wooden Shjips
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