Wooden Shjips - West
For a psych band with a healthy love for droning dirge, Wooden Shjips always manage to keep up a solid groove. Three records in, "West" finds the band more confident in that rhythmic grit, and the result is a trippy but catchy set of seven songs that ostensibly are about, you might have guessed, the mythology of the West, but which station themselves further up in the stratosphere that the OK Corral.
The opening "Vlack Smoke Rise" gets lost in a massive Velvet-esque trance, which segues neatly into "Crossing," a tun with a minimal riff and short but swirling guitar, solos that do have country twang amid its 80sn new-psych iciness. The peaks of the set are the majestic, epic "Home" and "Rising," songs that fully immerse you in powerful, soaring melodies that manage to rely on that bedrock groove they have mastered, at least on these tracks. In comparison, the quick "Lazy Bones" and carnivalesque "Looking Out" seem tossed off.
After a few spins, I'm still not sure where the West comes in on "West." If, however, Wooden Shjips wanted to borrow from Western mythology the feel of big sky, endless possibility and dangerous wonder, this San Francisco treasure of a band nailed it.
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