Friday, October 07, 2011

Wooden Shjips

This band rides the riff like no other. They drive the rock into the ground in a straight line, never stopping, except for a guitar solo or two. This San Francisco space rock band is channeling the same tides of dark psychedelia that oozed out of the city in the late 1960s through the 1970s. Imagine, if you will, that Ray Manzarek was replaced in The Doors by Martin Rev, and the drummer never ever ever stopped.

Black Smoke” channels the same vibe of “We Ask You to Ride” off their last LP. Yes, The Doors is a touchstone, but without all the ego and general asshole-ness of Ray or Jim. They worship the riff. “Crossing” is fried like forgotten eggs on the griddle at a shitty greasy spoon at 3 am in Clifton Heights, PA. It is over hard, not easy. I was a bit nervous that they might just be re-jiving their past glories. The are definitely tapping the same dense ore of the last disc. But it seems to be tightly focused and unrelenting this time. It is heavy but controlled. They are still on the bucking bronco 8 seconds in or even 10 minutes in. “Lazy Bones” is totally tweaked out, like  a meth addict on a Tri-Met bus out on 82nd in Portland, Oregon.

The hit of the disc is smack dab in the middle of the record. “Home” is MEGA PEAKING. The drumming beats out the time in military precision, while heavy reverb floats over blown-out Crazy Horse guitar chords. In “Flight” the keyboards are riding the crest of the wave, while the drums chug underneath. Locked in, the groove is like a laser beam. Then the guitar solo hits. The bent guitar notes bleed out of the speakers, like a nice nick to the carotid artery.  The album ends in reverse; u-turned drum beats swish down one’s ear canal, chased by snaking guitar lines and backwards vocals. Time means nothing.
(Thrill Jockey) (Dan Cohoon)