Wooden Shjips - V.

by Ljubinko Zivkovic Rating:9 Release Date:2018-05-25
Wooden Shjips - V.
Wooden Shjips - V.

When psychedelia was in full swing during the late Sixties, the so-called West Coast Sound was considered as one of the key elements of that musical movement. These days, that sound is easily recognisable, not only for its inventiveness and musical elements, but also, very often, for recording and production limitations that, although rarely detracting from the charm and essential quality of the music, make it quite easy locate to what period it belongs to.

Wooden Shjips, the current West Coast stalwarts, never shied away from all the trademarks of that sound, and don’t do so either on their fifth album, strangely enough, called V. The thing is, there’s no way you can really say when this album was recorded - ’68, ’78’ ,’88’, ‘’98’ 08’ or ’18. Sure, you can hear that the quality of sound is probably not ’68, but with all the remastering wizards around, it could have simply been cleaned up and the occasional synth washes (like on “Already Gone”) are almost not discernible and could be mistaken as studio ‘trickery’.

The point is that Wooden Shjips are so immersed in all the elements of the West Coast psychedelia that they have integrated it so well into their music and character, that it makes the music on V. (as is the case with their previous albums) practically sound timeless. It is the essence of the West Coast Sound in its all shapes or forms, this time around mainly concentrated on the more laid-back visions, as guitarist Ripley Johnson puts it, “We had huge forest fires just outside of Portland and there were intense haze and layers of ash in the city. I was sitting on my porch every evening, watching ash fall down like snow, the sky looking like it was on fire. It was an apocalyptic feeling. Summer in Portland is usually really chill and beautiful, and we were working on a ‘summer record,’ but the outside world kept intruding on my headspace.”

That is exactly the feeling you get from this music, particularly exemplified by “Staring At The Sun”, with its subdued vocals and guitar sound constantly reminding you of Jerry Garcia, John Cipollina and Randy California and their respective bands all at the same time. The same goes for “Golden Flower” with its more prominent vocals, organ washes and circling guitar sound, to which the true fans of the sound can only say: “That’s It!”

Yet, that submersion in the West Coast sound and the experience Wooden Shjips already have behind them means that they are no covers or copy band. With V. they have come up with some sort of psych meta music that has integrated all the elements that characterise the West Coast Sound. All of it.

Overall Rating (1)

5 out of 5 stars