Wooden Shjips: West Review
Wooden Shjips, the scuzzy classic rock project of Ripley Johnson (also of Moon Duo), seem content, and skilled, at mining a classic sound from the past and pummeling it into a present day groove. Their latest LP, the seven song West, is a commanding and spaced out journey that find the band making songs that, while not breaking much new music ground, are a strong, confident and fun batch of tracks.
If the songs on West were a person, they would be a burly dude with a big beard and dark sunglasses rocking a flannel shirt open just enough to see the tie dye underneath. The songs are rugged and fleshed out with thick, speaking rattling fuzz guitars, while still being playful in a Doors-on-even-more-acid sound. Songs like “Flight” epitomizes the band, combining charging guitars with spry keyboards bringing the classic rock vibe to the forefront, if the classic rock cannon rightfully included the seminal work of Can. “Rising” finds the band at their wonked out best, with a twisting groove that rolls over the listener in waves of echo laden guitar fuzz. “Lazy Bones” is late 60’s garage rock through a more distorted, frantic prism. The record makes up for its relative short length (seven songs) with a pummeling intensity and ragged creativity that clearly show that the band are able and willing to experiment with their sound without forgoing the goodsthat can rope in the listener.
At its best, West is stoned and freewheeling, the kind of loose grooves built around the undulating contours of incense smoke. The classic rock meet kraut grooves are both methodical and permissive, a steam engine that is billowing through a foggy night, unconcerned with what lies ahead. While some may find fault in the relative lack of hooks, those who can lock into the manic groove of West are going to find themselves hooked.