San Francisco’s Wooden Shjips offer songs that are equal parts swirling psychedelic repetition and fuzzed out garage rock. It’s sorta like mixing together the “broke-ass” garage-rock of Akron, Ohio’s the Black Keys, the trancey sounds of Neu, and an extended, drugged-up live version of the Doors’ “Light My Fire.” The result is a unique sound summed up as a hypnotizing and hazy rawness mastered by driving, repetitive bass lines; primitive, rhythmic drums; ghostly, distant vocals; and bristling, explosive guitar solos. Their strongest release to date is their aptly titled sophomore release Dos.
Dos opens with ferocious, buzzing waves of fuzzy guitar sludge and a menacing bass line rush over the track’s far-out spectral vocals on opening track “Motorbike.” On the album’s second cut, “For So Long,” the band pushes the recording of the tunes’ rhythm section into the red in preparation for a relentless sonic assault on your headphones; an assault led by a debauched guitar line that crackles across sheets of pounding bass. The track carries straight into what begins as one of the album’s most clean cut tunes, “Down By The Sea,” which also happens to be the album’s 2nd longest (but most relentless) song as it begins a sonic break-down about 4 minutes in. “Aquarian Time” is a little warmer and traditionally melodic, but features all of the same elements that make Wooden Shjips so unique. The longest track on the album is the closer, “Fallin'” which is notable because of a prominent, upbeat keyboard melody that stands in for the album’s usual rough and ready guitar riffs. Dos is an excellent release and a completely solid, enjoyable album, but to be honest, it probably isn’t for everybody any more than Animal Collective or Neu. But if you weren’t turned off by my description of the album – you won’t just like it, you’ll probably love it. If you live in San Francisco, head down to Aquarius Records for this one. Otherwise, stop by Insound to pick up your copy.
Head back to eating/sf to read Kasey’s review for Le Petite Rive in Little River, California.