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WOODEN SHJIPS

Psychedelic/Space Rock • United States


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Wooden Shjips biography
WOODEN SHJIPS were started off 2003 in San Francisco by Erik 'Ripley' Johnson (guitar, vocals). He had the intention to form a group of non-musicians for the purposes of creating some innovative music. The idea was that untrained players would have a brand new outlook on music and could bring something fresh to the table. Dusty Jermier (bass) originally was recruited to play sax for example, an instrument he'd never picked up before. The band's first incarnation simply had a lack of interest in playing live, they hardly bothered looking for gigs.

When additionally comprising drummer Omar Ahsanuddin and Nash Whalen (organ) they evolved to a more productive lineup and an initial self-released 10 vinyl 'Shrinking Moon For You' came out in 2006. Their self-titled debut album, released by Portland based label Holy Mountain, followed one year later and earned some rave reviews. Simultaneously they also started to offer their music live now.

WOODEN SHJIPS provide rather minimalistic jamming songs which feature a repetitive garage respectively kraut rock behaviour and spacey organ and guitars. The band's discography counts two compilations and several other single productions in the meanwhile. The sophomore full album entitled 'Dos' was released in 2009.

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Back To LandBack To Land
Thrill Jockey 2013
Audio CD$11.43
$12.99 (used)
WestWest
Thrill Jockey 2011
Audio CD$10.17
$17.40 (used)
WestWest
Thrill Jockey 2011
Vinyl$17.35
$25.00 (used)
Wooden ShjipsWooden Shjips
Holy Mountain 2007
Audio CD$11.73
$9.89 (used)
DosDos
Holy Mountain 2009
Audio CD$12.53
$19.01 (used)
Volume 1Volume 1
Holy Mountain 2008
Audio CD$10.49
$9.00 (used)
Volume 2Volume 2
Limited Edition
Sick Thirst 2010
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$11.00 (used)
RemixesRemixes
Limited Edition
Thrill Jockey 2012
Vinyl$17.99
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LOOSE LIPS B/W START TO [Vinyl]LOOSE LIPS B/W START TO [Vinyl]
Single
Sub Pop Records 2007
Vinyl$33.21
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WOODEN SHJIPS discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

WOODEN SHJIPS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.77 | 10 ratings
Wooden Shjips
2007
3.67 | 7 ratings
Dos
2009
3.80 | 6 ratings
West
2011
3.23 | 7 ratings
Back To Land
2013

WOODEN SHJIPS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

WOODEN SHJIPS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

WOODEN SHJIPS Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.00 | 1 ratings
Vol. 1
2008
3.00 | 2 ratings
Vol. 2
2010

WOODEN SHJIPS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Dance, California
2006
0.00 | 0 ratings
Shrinking Moon For You
2006
0.00 | 0 ratings
Loose Lips / Start To Dreaming
2007
0.00 | 0 ratings
Vampire Blues
2008
0.00 | 0 ratings
Contact
2009
0.00 | 0 ratings
Tour Of Australia And New Zealand March 2010
2010

WOODEN SHJIPS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Back To Land by WOODEN SHJIPS album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.23 | 7 ratings

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Back To Land
Wooden Shjips Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The latest-to-date album from the erstwhile California space quartet finds the band in their usual rut, but not exactly stuck. Guitarist / Shjips captain Erik 'Ripley' Johnson calls it a more "relaxed and laid back" effort, but don't worry: the album is hardly an easy-listening compromise. From the bouncy title track onward all the familiar elements are accounted for: the steady rhythmic grooves, the fluid guitar solos, the half-whispered echoplex vocals. And yet for better or worse it's the band's most accessible collection ever, surprisingly shjipshjape compared to the rougher garage band sound of their earlier EPs.

The album's name was chosen well, although an even better title might have been "Down to Earth". The almost conventional guitar lines and conspicuous lack of trippy effects are a not unwelcome surprise; ditto the brief moment (in "Servants") when Omar Ahsanuddin breaks the fixed rhythm with a rudimentary drum fill. It's only a single added half-beat, but as an unskilled ex-basement drummer I applaud his initiative. And a few of the songs ("Everybody Knows", and especially the lovely "These Shadows") have genuine melodic appeal, the latter actually featuring some acoustic rhythm guitar: radical stuff for such an otherwise far-out ensemble.

A partial relocation up the coast to the more progressive environment of Portland, Oregon might have accounted for the change of musical pace. It's the sound of a band settling perhaps too comfortably into their budding above-ground success, slowly moving away from the cyclopean minimalism that was always their strongest asset. Laid back or not, the new approach certainly works as a novelty, but not enough to hope it becomes a habit.

On the other hand, maybe it was time for the Shjips to finally drop anchor in a safe port. Repetition in music can be a healthy discipline (just ask any Krautrocker), but a musician repeating himself from album to album is courting stagnation. Any one bar is typically enough to get the gist of a Wooden Shjips song; any one song is usually enough to grasp the entire album. By gently shjaking their musical kaleidoscope, the band can now avoid having any one album be enough to typify their entire career.

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 Vol. 2 by WOODEN SHJIPS album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2010
3.00 | 2 ratings

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Vol. 2
Wooden Shjips Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The second volume of collected scraps from the bilges of Wooden Shjips provides a handy sampler of the band's monomaniacal music. In seven tracks it covers a lot of territory, but don't be surprised if the view looks familiar at each stop, marked on every side by the same hypnotic acid-rock rhythms and way-out guitar solos.

The skeletal motif in the artwork for both volumes makes perfect sense: these are bare-bone recordings of bare-bone songs, totally unsuited to a Progressive Rock forum but maintaining a stubborn allegiance to the primal strength of the electric guitar. There's a stray live track, not sounding too different from the obviously live-in-the-studio stuff elsewhere. There's also the unexpected detour of a Neil Young cover ("Vampire Blues"), absolutely destroying the laid-back flab of the 1974 original.

And then there's the highlight of the disc (and its longest track): a suitably groovy update of the 1968 Serge Gainsbourg song "Contact". The new version misses the metallic gold mini-skirt singing of sexpot Brigitte Bardot, but embellishes that ultra-chic Euro-'60s vibe with an irresistible beat replayed verbatim for eight-plus minutes, transforming a hipster touchstone into a Shjipster classic. The album's last three tracks, beginning with "Contact", continuing with the so-called "E-Z Version" of "I Hear the Vibrations", and concluding with the aptly-named "Outa My Head", are worth the purchase price of the album all by themselves, the titles alone suggesting a thematic link, inviting listeners into the eternal trance.

Like its companion, Vol. 2 isn't the best embarkation point for your maiden voyage aboard the Wooden Shjips. But after a season or two before the mast any veteran Shjiphead will recognize (and appreciate) their single-minded modus operandi.....and here's more of the same, only similar.

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 Vol. 1 by WOODEN SHJIPS album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2008
2.00 | 1 ratings

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Vol. 1
Wooden Shjips Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
2 stars The first of two housecleaning compilations from the darlings of the California neo-psychedelic underground collects an uneven half-dozen of the band's earliest, self-released 45's into one daunting package. Be warned: this is primitive stuff, a lo-fi distillation of their heavy, hardcore minimalism, not recommended to the uninitiated.

Wooden Shjips is all about the groove, but in truth the music here is more like an open gash. "Shrinking Moon For You" sets the mood with nine-minutes of trance-inducing noise: an ulcerating canker of feedback and distortion offering an almost Zen-like aid to self-annihilation, not unlike a crazy West Coast remake of CAN's epic "Mother Sky" mantra. Elsewhere "Dance, California" is listed as a radio edit, but from what twisted playlist? How insane must the full, unedited version be, and where can I hear it, please?

The songs typically end when someone stops playing, or when the tape runs out, whichever happens first. And the set itself concludes with the combined A and B sides of "SOL '07", originally a limited edition single pressed on red (later blue) vinyl. The title is an acronym, but not for Shjit out of Luck: the song was recorded to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love, despite representing a darker side of the Haight-Ashbury experience, far removed from the flowers and mandalas of our rose-tinted memories.

This has to be one of the roughest sets of music since Alan Vega and Martin Rev began terrorizing New York City nightclubs, three decades earlier. The entire 34+ minute album is a long way from the more professional main sequence of recordings from the band, and even further from anything resembling Progressive Rock: a point in its favor, to many fans. This one is strictly for diehard Shjipsters and other masochists, but they'll dig it to death...maybe literally, considering the adverse effects of prolonged exposure.

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 West by WOODEN SHJIPS album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.80 | 6 ratings

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West
Wooden Shjips Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Play along with me here. Imagine putting the music of Suicide, Hawkwind, The Velvet Underground, early Can, classic Neu! and a few other proto-punk agitators into a giant cosmic blender. Add a touch of ersatz-acid seasoning, throw in a spare letter 'j' to give the mixture a taste of psychedelic Sweden, and set the speed to Liquefy.

The resulting musical soup won't be as messy as you'd think, and might in fact resemble the monochrome grooves of Wooden Shjips. The California foursome honors all of the above-named bands (and more), but their concentrated alchemy reduces each influence to its undiluted essence: a steady hypnotic beat, some dreamy incoherent singing, and more spaced-out guitar than the average psyche can handle. From a Prog Rock perspective the band is strictly a one-trick pony, but they lead that animal through quite a workout on this year 2011 release, either a short album or a long EP, take your pick.

It's a more polished recording than earlier efforts, in places ("Home", for example) sounding almost but not quite mainstream in structure. Today it stands as maybe their best, most representative album to date, stripping an already minimal style right down to the elemental bone: loud, lysergic guitar solos, rinky-dink organ chords, and an unblinking rhythm section playing with the uniformity of machines (but not played by machines: a critical difference).

Organist Nash Whalen gets his share of airtime (in "Flight" and elsewhere), and had clearly practiced in anticipation, sometimes even attempting a second chord (insert winking emoticon here). But the spotlight as always belongs to Erik "Ripley" Johnson, a seductive Space Rock Jim Morrison at the microphone and a galactic warrior with his guitar. His solo turns in "Home" and "Flight", and the backwards effects in the album closer "Rising", tap into another dimension entirely: an alternative universe where the laws of gravity and inertia don't exist.

It all adds up to 38-minutes of droning stoner rock, but performed with clearheaded intent. Prog it ain't, but if music is your mantra here's a first-class ticket to nirvana.

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 Dos by WOODEN SHJIPS album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.67 | 7 ratings

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Dos
Wooden Shjips Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars EP number two from the psychedelic sons of the City by the Bay didn't tinker with their formula by a single whit, jot or musical iota. You can expect to hear the same hypnotic one-chord rhythms and far-out guitar solos: Acid Rock where the music itself is the only true drug. The tempos may vary; a brief instrumental chorus might be included; but the unblinking focus of the band's collective vision remained intact.

The difference between the two recordings was an upsurge of energy and purpose. From the exhilarating momentum of 'Motorbike' it's clear this was a louder, looser, more confident Shjip, liberated from the somewhat tentative explorations of their earlier session. The almost eleven-minute 'Down by the Sea' best captures the newfound madness of their unwavering method, driven by an endless acid-tab guitar solo over an even more inflexible groove than usual, approaching their seaside destination on a razor-straight six-lane highway, pedal to the metal and all four wheels off the pavement.

In truth the band had evolved (a little), but strictly within the narrow constraints of their own limited neo-Krautrock style. Those spiky guitar accents in 'For So Long' back unwittingly into bleak Post Punk terrain, sounding like something Martin Hannett might have produced in Manchester, circa 1980. Meanwhile the EP closer 'Fallin'' actually uses two (!) chords, and both in a major key, suggesting the promise of good times ahead.

To a newcomer any Wooden Shjips album would be a good starting point: they all more or less sound the same, by design. But in these five songs the Shjips were sailing with full canvas for the first time, running before a steady wind.

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 Wooden Shjips by WOODEN SHJIPS album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.77 | 10 ratings

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Wooden Shjips
Wooden Shjips Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The name of the band reads like a lysergic slip of the tongue, appropriately for a psychedelic quartet from San Francisco, a city that knows a thing or two about Acid Rock. And their self-titled debut EP, released in 2007, set the pattern for just about every piece of music the band would ever produce: a willfully repetitive rhythm; a cortex-melting electric guitar solo; and a lead singer locked inside an echo chamber, sounding not unlike a Krautrock Jim Morrison.

This early effort is a little more inhibited than later recordings, almost as if the band members were concerned about losing their (musical and/or psychic) way on their first trip together. The objective no doubt was to bring the listener into a natural state of altered consciousness, using two of the strongest drugs on the legal market: reverb and repetition, with a kick of feedback as a chaser. The sound of Erik Johnson's cosmic guitar can be a hallucinogen all by itself, capable of some truly warped contortions even in a song showing a semblance of melody ("Blue Sky Bends"). But there's a lesson here the band had yet to assimilate: when aiming for trippy, don't settle for just groovy.

These aren't virtuoso players by any means, and their music is better that way. You have to admire the almost military discipline of the rhythm section, including organist Nash Whalen, who to his credit apparently never learned how to master his instrument. Listen as they lock horns over the slow, motorik album-closer "Shine Like Suns": ten relentless minutes of throbbing one-note minimalism guaranteed to bring your mind to a complete halt, not an altogether bad goal these days. The fade at each end, into and out of a jam in progress, lends the song a narcoleptic likeness to NEU!'s "Hallogallo", in a similar manner giving listeners a ten-minute aural preview of infinity.

The Shjips would gain a reputation for playing a style of road music suited to empty, arrow-straight desert highways. Their first time behind the wheel finds them driving more or less between the lines, but poised to jump the musical traffic barrier at any moment.

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 Dos by WOODEN SHJIPS album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.67 | 7 ratings

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Dos
Wooden Shjips Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

4 stars More helpings from the same psychedelic bowl, 'Dos' picks up from it's eponymously-titled predecessor without blinking, unleashing another five-star torrent of feedback-drenched, motorik-grooved acid-rock. It's almost as if this San Francisoc-based group recorded an epic double-album and then spliced it in half, but, despite the similarities, 'Dos' is still an outstanding slice of 21st century psychedelic rock. Echoes of Neu!, Hawkwind and Dead Meadow can be heard underneath the cyclical din, but in truth Wooden Shjips have shaped a grizzly sound that is very much their own. Both their debut and 'Dos' positively drip with a mystically psychedelic, fuzz-toned blues-rock vibe, which should appeal not only to stoner-rock fans but also to prog-heads, psych-freaks and fans of psychotropic madness. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010

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 Wooden Shjips by WOODEN SHJIPS album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.77 | 10 ratings

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Wooden Shjips
Wooden Shjips Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

5 stars One of a clutch of new psychedelic groups for the 21st century, San Francisco's 'Wooden Shjips' have produced some of the most mind-meltingly cosmic music ever heard. Over the course of 'Wooden Shjips' five, long, meandering and deeply-trippy tracks, the group unleash a torrent of cyclical, motorik-grooved acid-rock that doesn't sound unlike raga-rock duo Clark Hutchinson jamming with Jimi Hendrix and Klaus Schulze in a smoky, incensed-filled Indian palace. Indeed, final track 'Shine Like Suns' is a beautifully-constructed and densely-mystical epic that seems to last forever but yet somehow never gets dull, as the constanly-reverberating, feedback-drenched electric-guitars pound their way through reams of LSD-fused psychedelic rock and back again via calmer, serener moments of almost-celestial calm. Fans of Dead Meadow, The Black Angels and Hawkwind may find much to admire in both this eponymously-titled debut and the group's excellent follow-up 'Dos', whilst the group have also released two compilation albums of early, rare singles and b-sides entitled 'Volume 1' and, un-surprisingly, 'Volume 2' that are well-worth owning if you like you're psychedelia raw, epic, bluesy and feedback-smothered. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010

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 Dos by WOODEN SHJIPS album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.67 | 7 ratings

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Dos
Wooden Shjips Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator Psych/Space Team & Band Submissions

3 stars WOODEN SHJIPS offer a hybrid of garage and space rock here which is quite interesting. Released on vinyl by Holy Mountain label 'Dos' has an approx. length of nearly 40 minutes. This San Francisco based band started in 2003 as an experiment of head Erik 'Ripley' Johnson whose guitar style is very psychedelic basically. Since 2006 they have a stable lineup, produced several recordings and earned some rave appraisals from indie/alternative as well as progressive rock reviewers.

On 'Dos' you will find rather minimalistic songs which feature a repetitive garage/kraut rock behaviour based on a rumbling bass, stoic drums and plain vocals. Even the organ does not step out of line with a decent trancy input. I'm sure this as such is not a challenge for many prog music lovers. What makes it big are Johnson's guitar contributions which are a special experience for space rock fans in my humble opinion.

Down By The Sea might be the best example taken from this album - a jam backed by a simple and hypnotic rock' n' roll drive. The guitar though is not from this planet which makes this music quite unique all in all. Ripley Johnson contrasts with a fuzzy and spacey solo excursion which is really impressing. The closing relaxed Fallin' on the other hand shows him reorienting to his colleagues and cannot touch my soul.

'Dos' is worked out in the Hawkwind and krautrock tradition, stylistically comparable to bands like F/I and The Vocokesh.in parts. And several descriptions pointing out a garage rock infected sound are not wrong too with good reason. A good album, however I'm missing some variety and a stronger experimental approach a bit over the course of time.

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Thanks to rivertree for the artist addition.

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