For the past few months, a press copy of West has been the only CD in my car. I’ve probably cycled through it at least fifty times. With its steady rhythm and lack of dull moments, West has proved both a departure from and a revival of Wooden Shjips‘ style as I remembered the band’s pre-hibernation period. Psychedelic music seems to have become more accessible in the local environment as of late, and, with their new record, Wooden Shjips’ popularity has surpassed its former crowd and extended into new audiences. The ratio of bearded, long-haired folk to young, dancing girls never seemed close to equal at past Wooden Shjips shows, but it was nearly 1:1 at Bottom of the Hill last Thursday.
The band kicked off the tour for their first studio record EVER with the kind of feel-good, positive energy any band has when they’re starting a tour on a brand new set of songs. As I’d remembered, every member onstage carried their own unique rhythm through the songs – whether that entailed bouncing right off a drum stool, meditating through guitar parts until a heavy riff returned, or the unforgettable stage presence Wooden Shjips’ bass player gave off. Ripley’s commitment to their set was beyond impressive – when a guitar string snapped during the last song, the band jammed for a whole minute while he replaced it, just to finish out the song (and then a one-song encore).
Sailor Jerry was giving out so much free booze that even the band turned some away, handing it off the stage and into the crowd in between songs. The show was pleasantly full throughout the evening, and Night Beats really kicked things off.
West is out now on Thrill Jockey, and a bonus 7″ (with the non-album track “Phonograph”) is available to purchase with the record online.