Rating: 7 / Format: CD/LP / Label: Holy Mountain

"What’s this, the 60s?" smirks my flat mate as he pokes his head into the living room. Aforementioned living room is queasy with the funk of Wooden Shjips ricocheting relentlessly, nay, indefatigably around the four walls. Indeed, the tar black fug of Haight-Ashbury hangs damn heavy on their second album, Dos. I should, by rights, love this band. They’re called Wooden Shijps after all, taking their collective moniker from perhaps the greatest piece of music ever committed to tape, Wooden Ships by Stephen Stills. This would imply that they make music as awesome as the C, S and N. They don’t, unfortunately, but that ain’t no bad thing. They’re ridiculously retro, Kaftan kooky and blatantly in love with the transcendental power of repetition.

It takes a while for it to make sense. Wade through the opening Music Machine stylings of ‘Motorbike’ and ‘For So Long’ and you’re jolted into throwing shapes to imaginary colours by the stupendously danceable ‘Down By The Sea’. An eleven minute ode to losing it in nature’s oceanic ebb and flow, it perfectly encapsulates all that is right, beautiful and true about Wooden Shijps: pummeling slabs of Farfisa, fuzz whacked guitars, drums that don’t know about dynamics (note to self: get hip, daddio. It’s what the kids called ‘krautrock’), vocals by a middle aged man quite possibly wearing sunglasses indoors. 

It takes a special kind of band to tread that fine line betwixt pastiche and the present, clever and stupid. Sometime Holy Mountain label mates, Six Organs of Admittance, do a good job of it and Wooden Shijps aren’t far behind. Like fellow exponents of the unintentionally hilarious, the Horrors, Wooden Shijps are way too Austin Powers to warrant the critical froth they’re inspired but, unlike the former, their hearts are beating and in the right place. With a hot summer predicted, you’d do worse than take this, your best friends and some stimulants to the all night beach bonfire west of the pier, Brighton. Yes, brother. 

Rich Hanscomb

Wooden Shjips homepage

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