Wooden Shjips CD reviewed by James Jackson Toth

Music Reviews
Wooden Shjips CD reviewed by James Jackson Toth
Oct 26, 2007, 05:54

Wooden Shjips


One of the most distinctive and original bands to emerge from the overcrowded nu-psych scene, San Francisco's much-hyped Wooden Shjips follow a 10” and a handful of great singles with a debut full-length on the great Holy Mountain label.

So what makes Wooden Shjips different from the scores of similarly bearded dudes with Memory Man pedals, many of whom hail from the very same city? Well, for one thing, they dispense with the high voltage mimicry of their peers in favor of a more supremely wasted Doors-y style, thanks to a complete dearth of clichéd rock “dynamics” and omnipresent fuzz organ. The tunes, all built on single grooves, rarely bludgeon, opting instead to lull, induce, and generally entice. Throughout the five relatively brief songs, the band never sounds like anything but four guys playing together—if anything here's been overdubbed, it sure doesn't sound like it.

So it's a masterpiece, right? Not quite. For one thing, the rhythm section isn't as tight as it ought to be—both the bassist and drummer occasionally stumble, and while this subgenre is hardly known for its musical chops, such lags and lapses harsh the mellow a little. And while Wooden Shjips are certainly refreshing in their ability to play psychedelic rock and not sound like a 60's nostalgia act, the more current reference points here—most obviously Spacemen 3 and Stereolab—occasionally dull the edges a bit, especially when the vocals rely on the same dubbed-out delay effect throughout the album.

The band's earlier singles may have contained more transcendence and mystery, but Wooden Shjips is a band that continues to show great promise. Here, they don't exactly deliver on that promise, but instead offer us a rain check. I'm totally pre-ordering their next one. [Holy Mountain]

-James Jackson Toth


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