The Aquarian Age as Scripture

By Anand Balasubrahmanyan September 24, 2009


Little is modern about Wooden Shjips. They are a psychedelic rock band from San Fransisco. Their bassist is named Dusty. Their songs are driven by repetitive 60s bass lines, hazy guitar drone and lo-fi filters. It's a murky mess and captures the feeling of waking up with a sore throat, scraping yourself out of bed and trudging to work.

This is a good thing. The cavernous lurch of debut hit “Shrinking Moon for You” is magic. A thick fog of distortion scrapes against the track, making you work to piece together its simple drum beat and sublimely stoned guitar solos. Wooden Shjips's newest release, Dos, ends with “Fallin,” which is bouncy mantra pop at it's 12-minute best. The band repeats a simple organ progression pulled taut by a propelling bass line. The song never explodes.

But for the all Hunter S Thompson-isms, it's surprising how managed it all sounds. The bass line never deviates; the guitar and organ are treated like scripture and are not up for re-interpretation. Unlike their Aquarian age heroes, Wooden Shjips aren't using their tunes to as a soundtrack of youthful debauchery, and that's their one modern spin. Their songs are lengthy fugues to the un-spontaneous, the routine. Is there any better way to document the descent into middle aged repetition than 60s music?

Wooden Shjips play the Vera Project on Saturday, September 26th.

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