Wooden Shjips: West (2011)

You've chewed up the 'shrooms. You've got the volume knob on the stereo cranked as far into the red as it will go. You see this fog rolling in over the distant hills. You just need one insane high octane drone to shatter your senses and hold it all together. That's where the Wooden Shjips come in.

While there's a consistency to all of their work, I give an edge to this one, not just because my hometown band has a nifty San Francisco photo up top, but because after a few albums/EPs of slightly more lo-fi aesthetics, this one adds a slicker polish, but without sacrificing the grungy garage band edge.

Musically, they continue to work those same noisy, space rock, psychedelic jams, a blend of Krautrock and Hawkwind and Spiritualized and Yo La Tengo's more extended vamps, a howling yet hypnotic collision of distorted guitars and organs and insistent riffs, reverbed vocals sounding like intermittent sound affects blending into the din.

The songs here are a bit shorter, only once crossing the 7-minute barrier; hell, the bouncy "Lazy Bones" is almost a pop song.  Most are pretty upbeat, more designed to keep you alert during your interstellar explorations than to knock you out, though closing track "Rising," a tripping-balls whir of backwards echo, may usher you out of consciousness.

Knock yourself out.

[NOTE: If you're thinking to yourself, gee, Marc, I too am tripping balls right now, but it's a mellow vibe... Wooden Shjips frontman Ripley Johnson has a side project, Rose City Band, which released an excellent album of low key cosmic Americana earlier this year called Summerlong, which could not be more different yet is equally wonderful in its own way; probably one of my favorites of 2020 so far.]

Here's the video for "Lazy Bones" (trigger warning: probably not good for epileptics or others bothered by rapidly flashing lights & images):
Here's "Crossing" live:
...and "Black Smoke Rise" live in the studio:
 Here's someone's home-made video for "Rising":