Wooden Shjips - Back To Land

Wooden Shjips - Back To Land

Verdict: 4/5

Thrill Jockey





Written By

Dragos Rusu


April 7, 2014

The American psychedelic band rocks my world since their first eponymous album released in 2007 at Holy Mountain. Dusty Jermier, Nash Whalen, Omar Ahsanuddin and Ripley Johnson return once again with their fourth album, a killer 8 tracks beast called “Back To Land”. As far as I’m concern, Wooden Shjips rocks it even more with this new release.

Go outside for some freshness in the nature, meet some strangers, write your name up on a printed street advertising and confuse people by laughing for no particular reason. Buy yourself a smart dog, climb a black mountain and search for gold while you’re already at the top of it, walk an 80+ years old granny to her shelter, experience anything that’s unusual just for the sake of diversity, kill your thoughts in the most unrefined manner and forget everything you were taught in school. This is the real shit, swim with us, ”we ask you to ride”.

The band’s story began in San Francisco, back in 2006. While their music has frequently been labeled as psychedelic rock, experimental and drone rock, their influence arise from a wide territory and has put them on the same map with other (but not only) contemporary usual suspects such as Suicide, Loop, The Velvet Underground, The Doors, Soft Machine and Guru Guru.

Alike their previous records, this fourth album investigates the expansive universe of psychedelic rock, with a general devil-ish rhythm on each of the songs and a suit of blasting guitars and haunting vocals. As the band has crafted a unique sound throughout a decade, each new album sounds, somehow, even better than the previous ones. But, at the same time, I feel like I have to return to their first records, in order to pursue and pervade the rough energy and music statement they initially shared.

The opening track, called ”Back To Land”, forges into the listener’s mind and prepares it for a mind blowing music experience. As the tender delayed vocals dance altogether with complex guitar phrases, there is a general sense of optimism, that carries the whole album off with a high hand. As ”Ruins” opens up for an energetic and hypnotic rhythm, the repetitive guitar riffs evoke a lost and perfectly shaped Suicide-ish atmosphere.

Any devoted Wooden Shjips listener will notice that there’s a surplus of energy and solid rhythm on this album, more than on their previous ones. It’s like each of the band’s member has gained a certain amount of energy, while experiencing with different recording contexts throughout their career, energy that is now felt in abundance on this more mature and sprightly album. ”These Shadows” slows down a little bit the overall atmosphere, with dreamy guitar riffs and affectionate vocals of Ripley, but tracks like ”In The Roses”, ”Other Stars” or ”Servants” grow the album in stature and bring the house down.

Each track flawlessly creates its own musical universe that all together contributes to an amazing album, one, which will definitely catch your attention. Press the pedal, speed up and dive!


1. Back To Land
2. Ruins
3. Ghouls
4. These Shadows
5. In The Roses
6. Other Stars
7. Servants
8. Everybody Knows

Have Your Say