Wooden Shjips – West
Gone is the lo-fi fugue of Wooden Shjips’ DIY recordings: West marks the San Franciscan psych-rock disciples’ debut in a “proper studio” under the trusted gaze of de facto Thrill Jockey engineer and Trans Am founder Phil Manley. And the move doesn’t harm them one little bit; a cleaner production aesthetic forgoes the foggy mix of past releases to afford these sprawling, skyward-facing jams sufficient room to breathe.
Variously echoing the acid-drenched otherworldliness of 13th Floor Elevators (Lazy Bones, Looking Out), the propulsive minimalism of NEU! (Black Smoke Rise, Crossing) and the scuzzed-out finale of Neil Young and Crazy Horse’s Rust Never Sleeps (Home), West feels like the brooding soundtrack that Zodiac deserved. Loaded with nostalgic triggers that hark to a more experimental era in American rock, it's no surprise that Rising – a wailing, hypnotic jam played in reverse – closes the show. One for the old record player, Ripley Johnson’s outfit remains very much not of this time. [Dave Kerr]