Wooden Shjips: Back to Land (Thrill Jockey/Border)

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Wooden Shjips: These Shadows
Wooden Shjips: Back to Land (Thrill Jockey/Border)

Someone clever – probably Laurie Anderson or Brian Eno – said every musical style that ever existed is being played somewhere today.

Which accounts for Appalachian death ballads, indie.folk, prog-rock, head-down boogie and psychedelic drone rock from decades ago still finding an audience.

Of the latter style, San Francisco's Wooden Shjips explore a sound which is partly Velvet Underground groove-drone, freewheeling guitar (Jefferson Airplane-meets-Crazy Horse on Everybody Knows here), a head-nod to Canned Heat and garageband space-rock (the echoed dreamscape of Ghouls).

All this comes together here better than on their previous West which -- in comparison with these tighter, more melodic and widescreen songs – now seems the transition into this tripped-out inner/outer space.

And while attention always defaults to Ripley Johnson's finely focused, expansive guitar (These Shadows and Other Stars are surf-rock from distant planets), the subtle anchor is the organ of Nash Whelan filling the mid-ground with subtle colour and mood.

With only two of these nine pieces breaking six minutes, Wooden Shjips make good on George Harrison's lines in It's All Too Much: “Show me that I'm everywhere and get me home for tea”.

Another cube in mine, please.

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