Over the course of three full length albums and two singles collections, Wooden Shjips have all but perfected their sound. Led by guitarist Ripley Johnson, this San Francisco quartet fuses boogie rock, 1960’s, West Coast psychedelic rock, and krautrock into a warbling and wavering blur where the lines of form and function all but disappear. The jams may only be five, six, or seven minutes long, but under the right circumstances, they can pull the listener into a place where they can stretch on to infinity.
While West may present a profound leap in terms of overall sound quality (Thanks in no small part to a proper studio with engineering by Phil Manley and mixing by Sonic Boom and Heba Kadry), it’s otherwise difficult distinguish where exactly this album differs from any of their previous efforts. “Home” works in a gnarled and ragged guitar riff reminiscent of Neil Young’s more electric work, and admittedly, the higher quality evident here gives it a sizable crunch. And, well, “Lazy Bones,” does kick up their medium groove tempo up to medium-high, and, “Rising” runs many of its tracks backwards, but that trick is hardly new to fans of heady, rock music. And, again, that’s the problem here. Those new to the band will find themselves wondering why they’ve never spun any of Wooden Shjips records before — Few can jam like Wooden Shjips can jam. Those who’ve been along for the ride, however, will feel like they’ve been down this road before. 6 out of 10 on The Rockometer.