Wooden Shjips, a quartet from San Francisco heavily influenced by the experimentalism of psychedelia, classical minimalism, and garage rock excess, started as an experiment in rhythmic primitivism and group improvisation. The current roster brings a more structured rock approach to its performances, utilizing a traditional lineup of drums (Omar Ahsanuddin), bass (Dusty Jermier), organ (Nash Whalen), guitar (Erik “Ripley” Johnson), and vocals. The band released two acclaimed records in 2006, beginning early in the year with a self-released 10-inch, Shrinking Moon for You. The record quickly sold out, after capturing the attention of well-regarded tastemakers, such as Tom Lax and Byron Coley, who penned rave reviews on Siltblog, and in Wire magazine, respectively. A 7-inch followed on the Sick Thirst label, and received similar praise from music bloggers, as well as from veteran scribe David Fricke in Rolling Stone. The band has three 2007 releases planned: this LP/CD for Holy Mountain, a 7-inch for Sub Pop, and a 7-inch for Pollymaggoo Records. “Wooden Shjips are from San Francisco, but the concentrated ferocity of the freakouts on their two very-underground releases—a white-label ten-inch EP (the band gave away the first 300 copies) and a clear-vinyl single (“Dance, California”)—arrives via the ’70s Germanic-guitar lunacy of Guru Guru and the confrontational repetition of VU.” —David Fricke, Rolling Stone “..tight-wound repeato psych guitar raunch with spoony (maybe even imaginary) percussion, surprisingly Rev-like keys, and vocals buried under burning driftwood.” —Tom Lax, Siltblog
How many music bloggers does it take to change a lightbulb? None, computer screens are backlit. Here we have a Wooden Shjips record the world saw coming--not titled II, Sophomore, or Second, but Dos. The group maintains its strident pace like a silverfish rave in perfectly folded bedsheets, with more bounce per ounce as life goes jogging with bopping heads and digging heels. Five numbers whose style might fit as cozily at La Cave in 1968 as at Ibiza in 1988. Natural loops with just enough vocals take you where the khakis and the cut-offs play together. Dos sounds off as the inauguration speech of a group accepting the minimalist psych bop crown that once adorned the likes of Neu and Loop. If possible, their brand of whipping fuzz hooks have gotten groovier. "Motorbike" begins the program with an attack of bleeding organ and cicada chirps--a wiley, wheel-spinning cloud-kicker indeed. "For So Long" introduces the hip-swayed, shoulder-dropping dance steps of the album. At this point, the guitar delivers a concise Fogerty / Karoli vibe of stiff and loose kraut blues. Closing side one is the stop-motion go-go anthem "Down by the Sea." Imagine yourself in the back of a cigarette boat with Alan Vega and Takashi Mizutani circling Easter Island. Smile as you melt under the glare of their mirrored sunglasses staring your own face back at you. The needle drops on side two. Beyond the dawning of the age is "Aquarian Time," a dense number that demands more weed and less booger-sugar. A steady plink of keys blipping like bright satellites in dark space accents this track's blissed-out sludge. The hypnotic pop grace of "Fallin'," the soundtrack for the last log on the fire as Winter eternally breaks into Spring, will stick in your mind until the record is played again on speakers of any size.
The Wooden Shjips' earliest material was released on vinyl, pressed in small quantities that were either free or hard to come by and are now hopelessly out of print. Who are we to keep you away from the rush of "Shrinking Moon for You"? Vol. 1 collects all the tracks from the free 10-inch, the Dance, California 7-inch, and the SOL 7-inch. The band will be out playing live, in their own nimble way, this spring and summer, road-testing new material for their next record. "... [T]ight-wound repeato psych guitar raunch with spoony (maybe even imaginary) percussion, surprisingly Rev-like keys, and vocals buried under burning driftwood. It's a nice one." --Byron Coley, Wire "... Wooden Shjips seem to have their wagon hitched to a post psychedelic/punk damaged Krautrock environ that just not enough people are astute enough to homestead." --Tom Lax, Siltblog "Like fellow locals Comets on Fire or English space rockers Hawkwind or Spaceman 3, Wooden Shjips' magic is created by a mix of pummeling hypnotic grooves and otherworldly guitar that sounds like Hendrix strung out in a methadone clinic." --Andy Tennille, HARP "'Dance, California' locks onto a three-note, twangy, nuclear beach groove and hangs out there for the duration, guitar slashery (in the single-note sweepstakes for a good long while) shooting over the top like artillery fire. On the other side, an atmospheric, slow drone and steady pulse frame blistery lead and what's that, vocals? Oh, so nice, and sounding more like the new incarnation of F/i with each listen." --Doug Mosurak, Dusted "... [T]he band have locked it in and sound like they are never gonna stop. A looped cyclical minimal fuzzrock jam that sounds almost like some crazy crossbreeding of the Doors and Spacemen 3, which should appeal to Circle, Salvatore, and Magyar Posse fans as much as all the druggy psychrock dronesters out there." --Aquarius Records
Strap in for travels beyond the galaxy to tranced-out cosmic bliss! Sick Thirst presents Vol. 2, the second compilation of hard-to-find Wooden Shjips tracks. Vol. 2 digs deep to collect the band's Sub Pop and Mexican Summer singles, two self-released European tour singles, and a track from Yeti magazine, for nearly 44 minutes of fuzzed-out psych jams.
Not just for completists, Vol. 2 contains the essential live standards "Loose Lips," "Death's Not Your Friend (Live)", and "I Hear the Vibrations (E-Z Version)," plus savage covers of Neil Young's "Vampire Blues" and Serge Gainsbourg's "Contact."
Wooden Shjips is a trance-rock quartet from San Francisco consisting of Omar Ahsanuddin (drums), Dusty Jermier (bass), Nash Whalen (organ), and Ripley Johnson (guitar and vocals). Their sound crosses the icy garage rock of early Echo and the Bunnymen with the sun-bleached tremolo-punk of the Scientists. Hints of krautrock, the trance-inducing organ haze of Suicide, Velvets-style dance-drone, classic desert-fried garage psych, and the mysterious, obscure Japanese lysergic-rock band Les Rallizes Dénudés are all mixed into one explosive whole.
All 3 Wooden Shjips albums on Holy Mountain—Wooden Shjips, Dos, Vol 1—plus Vol 2 on Sick Thirst for a reduced rate and a Wooden Shjips bumper sticker.