Wooden Shjips - West
Explorative and intoxicating but breaking little new ground
Any fears that Wooden Shjips’ first trip into a recording studio would compromise the fug of their psych-rock are swiftly allayed by ‘Black Smoke Rise’, the opening track from the San Franciscans’ new long-player.
It revokes their bygone DIY tendencies yet reveals that Ripley Johnson (also of Moon Duo) is as in thrall to 60s garage, 70s psych, Crazy Horse and Suicide as ever. (The power-chord amulet of The Kinks’ ‘You Really Got Me’ also swings throughout, to hypnotic effect).
‘Black Smoke Rise’ sets the scene and pace for an album inspired by the ideology and mysticism of the American West, but while Wooden Shjips remain explorative and intoxicating, (and the backwards-conceit of ‘Rising’ notwithstanding), they break little new ground.