V by Wooden Shjips

Release date: May 25, 2018
Label: Thrill Jockey Records

Wooden Shjips is an 11-year-old project out of San Francisco (an appropriate place for a trippy psych group). The album is upbeat, entrancing, and lays down a positive vibe that will likely put a smile on your face. This album is such a pleasant, burbling listen as it meanders and expands through your aural senses. The songs are long and droning, and they will draw you in! Despite these plusses, it’s not easy listening. For those who prefer their psych in short, neat slices, look elsewhere. These are songs you need to spend time with, inhabiting the sonic spaces carved out by this talented group.

The opener ‘Eclipse’ couldn’t arrive at a better time, as we just had a major eclipse event in these parts. The words aren’t always clear, hovering in that blurry space just out of reach, like that word on the tip of your tongue. The band also employs a sax on some tracks. ‘In the Fall’ has rippling streams of guitar laced with effects and warm washes of keyboards to wrap it all up in a bow. So pretty!

‘Red Line’ follows a fairly predictable melodic path, but it’s so inviting you’ll want to be part of the scene. Its trippiness is what I like best, but there is nothing gimmicky about it. It’s a natural byproduct of the psych this band dwells in, and I would expect nothing different from them. ‘Already Gone’ is the shortest tune here, and it is swell. I love its gentle ebb and flow, and find it quite appealing. I am reminded in small part of The Dead (not a fan), but I like this quite a bit more.

‘Staring at the Sun’ is a 7 minute plus single, and right out of the gate, it reminds me of the Velvets, and even of BJM. There are also glimmers of Love and Rockets in the mix. Truly a fine song. ‘Golden Flower’ truly has a groovy, hopping vibe, while the final track ‘Ride On’ draws down the energy to a slow throb, much like a simmering campfire ready to roar into life. The song builds slowly and offers tasteful solos for the already committed listener.

All in all, this is a fun listen for those who enjoy a sunny West Coast vibe mashed with Krautrock.

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