By Jay Diamond
I’ve tried to define the whole psychedelic thing in my mind countless times. The Velvet Underground for instance, played drug-fueled, loud music sometimes accompanied by the aid of visuals, just like bands coming out around the same time as Jefferson Airplane, The Dead, etc. So how come I never hear White Light/White Heat mentioned in the same sentences as Vincebus Eruptum or Piper at the Gates of Dawn? Sure Lou Reed singing about trannies and drug-fueled murder scenes isn’t as whimsical as Syd Barrett crooning about kitties named Lucifer Sam, gnomes, or whatever the hell he was dreaming about before he lost his mind, but what really makes these bands any different or similar?
I could be wrong, but I think Wooden Shijps have gone ahead and answered that question on their second full-length, Dos, suggesting by its synergy of these supposedly disparate sonic locales that these bands are differentiated by one’s preference for acid versus the other’s taste for the hard stuff. And while I know I have laid claim that the psych record of the year has possibly come out, I think with this record/revelation, the fight’s going down to the wire.
“Motorbike” kicks in right away with Alan Vega fronting Jesus and Mary Chain covering The Modern Lovers, the album progressively pounding out songs that bring to mind “Sister Ray” and/or Malcolm Mooney era Can stuff. They weave through these songs like the Headless Horseman chasing after a victim, and show little to no fear about noodling around the territory of their Bay Area forefathers before hop-scotching over to Texas freakout king Mayo Thompson and The Red Krayola’s dusty territory. And, if I said I hear the icy, machine driven thump of Silver Apples passing here and there, would it be too much?
Dos is what Wooden Shjips’s synergistic powers can achieve in just a few short years. Scary to think this might not be their peak.