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Back To Land

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Wooden Shjips

Back To Land

12" LP

Availability: In stock


Quick Overview

Somewhere between 2011's West and 2013's Back to Land, members of the Bay Area psych rock act Wooden Shjips left their picturesque home base of San Francisco for the rainier environments of Portland, Oregon. Wooden Shjips' identity had always been somewhat rooted in their place in the San Francisco scene, going so far as to have an aerial photo of the Golden Gate Bridge adorn the cover of West. Growing out of their new, cloudier surroundings, the fuzzy, understated psychedelic boogie rock and mystical acoustic dreaminess of Back to Land don't sound decidedly more steeped in Northwestern dreariness and contemplation, but there is a noticeable shift toward more introspective songwriting and less jagged textures. The laid-back grooves of tracks like "Ruins" and "Servants" bring dark and spaced-out sheets of guitar into the forefront as singer Ripley Johnson's echo-drenched and muttering vocals ride the droning waves. Repetitive rhythms from the Mo Tucker school of drumming have always been a trademark for the band, but Back to Land speeds up the pace at times without falling into pitfalls of overplaying, with tightly locked organ and guitar riffs on faster tracks like "Ghouls" or the maraca-fueled push of "In the Roses." The true standout track and clearest nod to a Portland-bred feel on Back to Land is the dusky wandering daydream of "These Shadows." One of the more acoustic-leaning songs the band has offered up, the tune is somewhere between the low-lit majesty of Mazzy Star and the early morning blurriness of the third Velvet Underground album, with far more guitar solos than either. It's a gorgeous breath of fresh air between the more brash and unhinged tunes. The overall pace, sequence, and vibe of Back to Land finds the Shjips teetering on the edge of classic rock mania with enough restraint to keep things minimal, mystical, and interesting throughout.


Wooden Shjips rise to prominence from the psychedelic underground to the rock and roll overground has been a steady sojourn. With each consecutive release, the band has found new ways of transforming heady psychedelic rock into minimalist masterpieces, bridging the gap between the woozy freeness of Les Rallizes Denudes and Crazy Horse and the tightly wound simplicity of Suicide and the Velvet Underground. Back To Land, the quartet s follow-up to West, is the first Wooden Shjips record to be conceived outside of San Francisco. Ripley Johnson and Omar Ahsanuddin moved to Oregon, where the lush climates became a major influence on the songwriting. The band s scope expanded to include more earthy, grounded tones, such as the acoustic guitar, without abandoning their modernist psych core. There is an increased brightness to many of the songs on Back To Land, an easiness with which the band has flirted with in the past but never fully realized until now. The nervy urgency of West has evolved into an assured confidence, from the alliterative, interlocking guitar and organ groove of Ruins to the languidly compelling guitar solos of Servants. The addition of the acoustic guitar to the band s textural palate is coupled here with some of the most melodically direct songs the band has written. Still, there are still plenty of signature Shjips songs, with distorted riffs, modal keys, and a steady, crisp drum sound unfolding intensely while the elongated melodic guitar lines drift in and out of the foreground. On Back to Land this energy is captured in clear detail, designed as an immersive experience rather than a passive blasting. Back To Land was laid to tape at Jackpot Recording Studios in Portland by Kendra Lynn and mixed by Larry Crane. It was recorded over an 11-day session, resulting in some of the most detailed and spacious recordings of their career. Back To Land is a breakthrough record for the Wooden Shjips: nuanced, varied and utterly addictive. The band will be touring extensively in the US and Europe November through February.

Additional Information

Artist Wooden Shjips
Track Listing 1 Back to Land - 5:17 2 Ruins - 5:14 3 Ghouls - 3:53 4 These Shadows - 5:25 5 In the Roses - 5:09 6 Other Stars - 5:23 7 Servants - 6:08 8 Everybody Knows - 5:18

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