Tag: Velvet Underground

New Audio: JOVM Mainstay Art d’Ecco Releases an Incisive and Withering Look at Online Dating

Art d’Ecco is an enigmatic British Columbia-based singer/songwriter and grizzled Vancouver music scene vet, who once played in a band with acclaimed producer and ACTORS frontman Jason Corbett. In 2018, he emerged as dark bobbed hair wearing, androgynous and charismatic glam rock with the release off his full-length debut Trespasser.

Since Trespasser, the British Columbia-based art rocker has been busy: he played a live session for Seattle’s KEXP and played more than 75 clubs and music festivals across North America. Continuing a busy period, d’Ecco opened for acclaimed British psych rock act Temples right before the pandemic struck. “Trespasser was the start of a two-year ride taking me to all sorts of places I’d never been to,” the acclaimed British Columbia-based singer/songwriter says in press notes. “Seeing how different cultures interact with entertainment was the genesis for In Standard Definition. A lot of this record was actually written on the road late at night in motel rooms – with the flickering light of a television in the background.”

Released yesterday through Paper Bag Records, the Colin Stewart-produced In Standard Definition was recorded on two-inch tape with a handpicked, rotating cast of musicians that featured jazz and blues-trained horn players, Victoria Symphony Orchestra string players, soul singers and his backing band on a 50 year old console at The Hive. Sonically, the album finds d’Ecco further establishing a sound that some critics have described as neo-glam. But interestingly, the album’s overall sound and aesthetic sees d’Ecco and his backing band pushing the sonic boundaries of glam rock as far as they can, as the material draws from a diverse and eclectic array of influences including 50s pop, psychedelia, , Velvet Underground-like art rock, Grimes-inspired electronics, Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie and Brian Eno among others. “I’m obsessed with tape, film, and sounds of yesteryear, so recording could only be analogue – in standard definition – the way entertainment was once created,” d’Ecco explains. “I wanted to go back in time, exist in a different era and breathe my creativity through it.”

Thematically, the album holds up a mirror to pop culture and explores our obsessions with entertainment and celebrity. “No matter where you live or what language you speak, there’s an entertainment god for you,” d’Ecco explains in press notes. “Whether on TV or writing the books you read, it’s an odd sense of purpose we allocate to these humans whose talent is in distracting us from the doldrums of daily life. We’re constantly searching for something… glued to our phones… consuming various forms of entertainment. We feel less close with each other, and closer to the strangers who make us feel good.”

In the buildup to the album’s release, I wrote about four of In Standard Definition’s previously released singles:

“TV God,” a synthesis of ’77 punk, Ziggie Stardust-era Bowie and Pleasure Principle-era Gary Numan, centered around anthemic hooks, twinkling piano stabs, punchily delivered lyrics, soulful backing vocals, propulsive bass lines, a scorching guitar solo and squiggling synths. 
“Head Rush” an infectious boogie that owes a sonic debt to Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie, complete with an enormous horn line and glistening synths. 
“I Am The Dance Floor,” a shimmering and strutting disco take on glam rock that may remind some of Bay City Rollers “Saturday Night,” Echoes-era The Rapture and In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy. 
“Desires,” a jangling and densely layered glam anthem that sonically is a slick synthesis of Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie, Gary Numan and The Cars. “A tale born inside the dark underbelly of old Hollywood, then repackaged and reimagined as a rock and roll tragedy,” d’Ecco said of the song in press notes.. “’Desires’ is about the entertainer at the end of their career — soon to be phased out by the next wave of rising talent, and shifting audience tastes. For the old guard, this spectre of change is a constant existential threat that will challenge their ability to keep up with the times and to remain relevant in this brutal industry of show business.”

In Standard Definition’s fifth and latest single “Good Looks” is a shimmering and slickly produced synthesis of classic rock, New Wave and glam influences — i.e., think Queen, David Bowie, Gary Numan and The Cars — with the song being centered around an angular and propulsive bass line, four-on-the floor, crystalline synths arena rock friendly hooks and punchily delivered lyrics, But underneath the rousingly anthemic hooks, the song is a withering look at the artificiality and superficiality of online dating: The song specially points out that while we’re swiping left and right, we’re not actively taking part in the world.

New Video: Art d’Ecco Releases a Stylish and Noir-ish Visual for Anthemic “Desires”

The mysterious and enigmatic British Columbia-based singer/songwriter now known as Art d’Ecco is a grizzled Vancouver music scene vet, who once played in a band with acclaimed producer and ACTORS frontman Jason Corbett; but in 2018 he emerged as a dark bobbed hair wearing, androgynous and charismatic glam rocker with the release of that year’s critically applauded, full-length debut Trespasser. 

Since the release of Trespasser, the Canadian art rocker has played a live session for Seattle’s KEXP and played more than 75 clubs and music festivals across North America. Last spring, d’Ecco opened for acclaimed UK-based psych rock act Temples right before the pandemic struck. “Trespasser was the start of a two-year ride taking me to all sorts of places I’d never been to,” the acclaimed British Columbia-based singer/songwriter says in press notes. “Seeing how different cultures interact with entertainment was the genesis for In Standard Definition. A lot of this record was actually written on the road late at night in motel rooms – with the flickering light of a television in the background.”

Slated for an April 23, 2021 release through  Paper Bag Records, the Colin Stewart-produced In Standard Definition was recorded on two-inch tape with a handpicked, rotating cast of musicians that featured jazz and blues-trained horn players, Victoria Symphony Orchestra string players, soul singers and his backing band on a 50 year old console at The Hive. Sonically, the album will reportedly find the acclaimed Canadian art rocker further establishing a sound that some critics have described as neo-glam. But interestingly enough, the album’s overall sound and aesthetic pushes the boundaries of glam rock, as it draws draws from a diverse and eclectic array of influences including elements of 50s pop, psychedelia, Velvet Underground-like art rock, Grimes-inspired electronics, Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie and Brian Eno among others. “I’m obsessed with tape, film, and sounds of yesteryear, so recording could only be analogue – in standard definition – the way entertainment was once created,” d’Ecco explains. “I wanted to go back in time, exist in a different era and breathe my creativity through it.”

Thematically, the album holds up a mirror to pop culture and explores our obsessions with entertainment and celebrity. “No matter where you live or what language you speak, there’s an entertainment god for you,” d’Ecco explains in press notes. “Whether on TV or writing the books you read, it’s an odd sense of purpose we allocate to these humans whose talent is in distracting us from the doldrums of daily life. We’re constantly searching for something… glued to our phones… consuming various forms of entertainment. We feel less close with each other, and closer to the strangers who make us feel good.”

So far, throughout the year I’ve written about three of In Standard Definition‘s previously released singles: 

“TV God,” a synthesis of ’77 punk, Ziggie Stardust-era Bowie and Pleasure Principle-era Gary Numan, centered around anthemic hooks, twinkling piano stabs, punchily delivered lyrics, soulful backing vocals, propulsive bass lines, a scorching guitar solo and squiggling synths. 
“Head Rush” an infectious boogie that owes a sonic debt to Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie, complete with an enormous horn line and glistening synths. 
“I Am The Dance Floor,” a shimmering and strutting disco take on glam rock that may remind some of Bay City Rollers “Saturday Night,” Echoes-era The Rapture and In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy. 

In Standard Definition’s latest single “Desires” is a jangling, densely layered, glam rock anthem centered around rousingly anthemic hooks, blasts of twinkling synth arpeggios, soulful horn blasts, an angular bass line, strummed rhythm guitar and shimmering guitar solos and punchily delivered vocals. Sonically, the song is a slick synthesis of Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie, Gary Numan and The Cars — all while being carefully crafted. “A tale born inside the dark underbelly of old Hollywood, then repackaged and reimagined as a rock and roll tragedy,” d’Ecco explains. “’Desires’ is about the entertainer at the end of their career — soon to be phased out by the next wave of rising talent, and shifting audience tastes. For the old guard, this spectre of change is a constant existential threat that will challenge their ability to keep up with the times and to remain relevant in this brutal industry of show business.”

Directed and edited by Brandon William Fletcher, the recently released video for “Desires” is a stylistically shot, noir-is black and white visual that features d’Ecco and his backing band performing the song — but underneath the stylish surface, there’s this sense of an artist fearful of being phased out by an indifferent and bored audience and industry. Certainly, as you get older in an industry that often values beauty and youth before wisdom and experience, those fears become increasingly real — and the desire to be relevant more desperate.

New Video: Art d’Ecco Releases a Strutting Glam-Inspired Ode to Nostalgia

Although he’s a grizzled Vancouver music scene vet, who once played in a band with acclaimed producer and ACTORS frontman Jason Corbett, the mysterious and enigmatic British Columbia-based singer/songwriter now known as Art d’Ecco emerged as a dark bobbed hair wearing, androgynous and charismatic glam and art rock-inspired presence with the release of 2018’s critically applauded, full-length debut Trespasser.

Since the release of Trespasser, the Canadian art rocker has played a live session for Seattle’s KEXP and played more than 75 clubs and music festivals across North America. Last spring, d’Ecco opened for acclaimed UK-based psych rock act Temples before the pandemic struck. “Trespasser was the start of a two-year ride taking me to all sorts of places I’d never been to,” the acclaimed British Columbia-based singer/songwriter says in press notes. “Seeing how different cultures interact with entertainment was the genesis for In Standard Definition. A lot of this record was actually written on the road late at night in motel rooms – with the flickering light of a television in the background.”

Sonically, the forthcoming, Colin Stewart-produced In Standard Definition was recorded on 2-inch tape with a handpicked, rotating cast of musicians that featured jazz and blues-trained horn players, Victoria Symphony Orchestra string players, soul singers and his backing band on a 50 year old console at The Hive. Sonically, the album will reportedly find the acclaimed Canadian art rocker further establishing a sound that some critics have described as neo-glam. But interestingly enough, the album’s overall sound and aesthetic draws from a diverse and eclectic array of influences including elements of 50s pop, psychedelia, Velvet Underground-like art rock, Grimes-inspired electronics, Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie and Brian Eno among others. “I’m obsessed with tape, film, and sounds of yesteryear, so recording could only be analogue – in standard definition – the way entertainment was once created,” d’Ecco explains. “I wanted to go back in time, exist in a different era and breathe my creativity through it.”

Thematically, the album holds up a mirror to pop culture and explores our obsessions with entertainment and celebrity. “No matter where you live or what language you speak, there’s an entertainment god for you,” d’Ecco explains in press notes. “Whether on TV or writing the books you read, it’s an odd sense of purpose we allocate to these humans whose talent is in distracting us from the doldrums of daily life. We’re constantly searching for something… glued to our phones… consuming various forms of entertainment. We feel less close with each other, and closer to the strangers who make us feel good.”

Last month, I wrote about “TV God,” a shimmering and strutting synthesis of ’77 punk, Ziggie Stardust-era Bowie and Pleasure Principle-era Gary Numan, centered around anthemic hooks, twinkling piano stabs, punchily delivered lyrics, soulful backing vocals, propulsive bass lines, a scorching guitar solo and squiggling synths. In Standard Definition’s second single “Head Rush” is a shimmering and strutting boogie that owes a sonic debt to Man That Sold The World and Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie, complete with an enormous horn line and glistening synths. Directed by Avi Glanzer, the recently released video for “Head Rush” features the Canadian art rocker in a sleek leather jumpsuit and acoustic guitar in a stylish, slick and trippy visual.

“It’s a song about the head rush of our youth – nostalgia is a powerful drug, it distorts and reframes the past, often reconciling our memories into one place for easy access and to better suit our current disposition or state of mind,” d’Ecco explains. “I wanted all the hallmarks of a classic rock song – the kind of music that used to blast from the kitchen radio at the summer jobs I’d worked at as a teen. Guitar solo? Check. Drum solo? Check. Big horns and sparkly synths? Check.”

In Standard Definition is slated for an April 23, 2021 release through Paper Bag Records.

New Video: Canadian Art Rocker Art d’Ecco Releases a Flashy VIsual for Shimmering Glam Inspired Strut

Although he’s a grizzled Vancouver music scene vet, who once played in a band with acclaimed producer and ACTORS frontman Jason Corbett, the mysterious and enigmatic British Columbia-based singer/songwriter now known as Art d’Ecco emerged as a dark bobbed hair wearing, androgynous and charismatic glam and art rock-inspired presence with the release of 2018’s critically applauded, full-length debut Trespasser.

Since the release of Trespasser, the Canadian art rocker has played a live sessions for Seattle’s KEXP and played more than 75 clubs and music festivals across North America. Last spring, opened for acclaimed UK-based psych rock act Temples before the pandemic struck. “Trespasser was the start of a two-yeah r ride taking me to all sorts of places I’d never been to,” the acclaimed British Columbia-based singer/songwriter says in press notes. “Seeing how different cultures interact with entertainment was the genesis for In Standard Definition. A lot of this record was actually written on the road late at night in motel rooms – with the flickering light of a television in the background.”

Sonically, the forthcoming, Colin Stewart-produced In Standard Definition was recorded on 2-inch tape with a handpicked, rotating cast of musicians that featured jazz and blues-trained horn player, Victoria Symphony Orchestra string players, soul singers and his backing band on a 50 year old console at The Hive. Sonically, the album will reportedly find the acclaimed Canadian art rocker further establishing a sound that some critics have described as neo-glam. Although interestingly enough, the album’s overall sound and aesthetic draws from a diverse and eclectic array of influences including elements of 50s pop, psychedelia, Velvet Underground-like art rock, Grimes-inspired electronics, Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie and Brian Eno among others. “I’m obsessed with tape, film, and sounds of yesteryear, so recording could only be analogue – in standard definition – the way entertainment was once created,” d’Ecco explains. “I wanted to go back in time, exist in a different era and breathe my creativity through it.”

Thematically, the album holds up a mirror to pop culture and explores our obsessions with entertainment and celebrity. “No matter where you live or what language you speak, there’s an entertainment god for you,” d’Ecco explains in press notes. “Whether on TV or writing the books you read, it’s an odd sense of purpose we allocate to these humans whose talent is in distracting us from the doldrums of daily life. We’re constantly searching for something… glued to our phones… consuming various forms of entertainment. We feel less close with each other, and closer to the strangers who make us feel good.”

In Standard Definition’s first single, the infectious “TV God” is a shimmering glam rock-like strut featuring twinkling piano stabs, punchily delivered lyrics, soulful backing vocals, an angular bass line, a scorching guitar solo and blasts of squiggling synths that sonically feels like a slick synthesis of ’77 punk, Ziggie Stardust-era Bowie and Pleasure Principle-era Gary Numan, centered around anthemic hooks.

The recently released flashy video features the acclaimed Canadian rocker and his backing band performing the song in a smoky studio — and all of them, especially Art d’Ecco serves up some fierce as fuck looks with swaggering self-assuredness

 

I’ve written quite a bit about the Bay Area-based avant-garde free rock/psych rock collective Dire Wolves over the years, and although the act has gone through a number of significant lineup changes, the act — Jeffrey Alexander (guitar, synths), who has also had stints running Secret Eye Records and as a member of Jackie O’ Motherfucker and Black Forest Black Sea; Georgia Carbone (vocals); Brian Lucas (bass); Faun Fables‘ Sheila Bosco (drums, piano); Village of Spaces‘ Arjun Mendiratta (violin) and Spires that in the Sunset Rise’s Taralie Peterson (sax) — has a long-held reputation for crafting deeply hypnotic, lysergic music and for being incredibly prolific, releasing over a dozen albums since their formation back in 2008.

Now, as you may recall, the Bay Area-based band’s soon-to-be released album Grow Towards the Light is slated for a June 28, 2019 release through Beyond Beyond is Beyond Records, and the album, which is their fourth official album also marks the band’s first album with Carbone contributing vocals — typically Carbone singing in her own invented language. Thematically, the album as the band’s Jeffrey Alexander explains in press notes, “tries to express the interconnectedness of all things.” “Spacetime Rider,” which I wrote about a few weeks ago was an expansive and free-flowing jam centered around shimmering guitars, a motorik groove, slashing bursts of violin and Carbone’s Nico-like wailing. And while recalling early Velvet Undergound, the track had a patient, painterly air.

Interestingly, Grow Towards the Light‘s latest single “Discordant Angels” is a slow-burning and hypnotic dirge centered around shimmering violin, a gypsy-like rhythm and Carbone’s ethereal wailing. The song finds the band effortlessly meshing elements of classical music, psych rock and folk in a way that’s simultaneously trippy, haunting and unsettling.

 

New Video: Up-and-Coming Scottish Indie Rock Act Sister John Releases a Self-Assured Classic Rock-Like Single

Led by Amanda McKeown, the up-and-coming Glasgow, Scotland-based indie rock act Sister John can trace its origins to when its members met while singing in The Parsonage Choir. McKeown cajoled her then-future bandmates into helping her perform some original material at a one-off event, and as the story goes, the members of the band immediately recognized an intrinsic simpatico that quickly made them inseparable.  

Quickly developing new material and their own sound, the Glasgow, Scotland indie rock act signed to Last Night From Glasgow Records in December 2016 with the label releasing their first single, “He Came Down,” an original, alternative Christmas song, which they followed up with a set at the LNFG/TeenCanteen Christmas Effect charity showcase. Their second single “Sweetest Moment” was released the following June and was named BBC Radio Scotland’s Single of the Week, while receiving airplay on the Roddy Hart Show. Within a year of signing to Last Night From Glasgow Records, Sister John wrote, recorded and released their critically full-length debut, Returned From Sea, which they followed up with a series of sold out shows across the UK, as well as a showcase at Glasgow’s winter music festival Celtic Connections. 

Building upon a growing profile and growing confidence from the positive reception of their full-length debut, the band released “Friends” in early 2018 before heading to the studio to begin work on their self-titled sophomore album, which is slated for release later this week. Reportedly, the soon-to-be released album finds the band squeezing more out of their sound on some tracks while filtering and minimizing on others — with some points, the material taking on a darker sound and vibe. Interestingly, the album’s first single “I’m The One” has been compared to post-Nico Velvet Underground — and that shouldn’t be surprising as the incredible self-assured its centered around a looping and twangy guitar line, a propulsive rhythm section and a sing-songy vocal delivery. The result is a song with a sleazy, bar room strut with a vulnerable, longing underbelly. 

Directed and filmed by Brian Sweeney and Fabio Rebelo, the recently released video features the band performing the song at a tiny, local club with the Whitburn Northern Soul Dancers dancing along. It’s a delightful and mischievously anachronistic visual. 

New Video: The Breezy and Summery Visuals and Sounds of Wooden Shjjips’ Road Trip Anthem “Already Gone”

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written a bit about the renowned San Francisco, CA-based psych rockers Wooden Shjips, and as you may recall, although the act is currently comprised of founding member and primary songwriter Ripley Johnson (guitar, vocals), Dusty Jermier (trumpet, bass), Omar Ahsanuddin (drums) and Nash Whalen (organ), the band can trace their origins back to 2003 when Johnson started the band with the intention of finding a group of non-musicians and creating music with them, centered by the underlying idea that untrained musicians would have a different outlook on what music is and how it’s played, essentially bringing something fresh to to the table in a fashion reminiscent of the garage rockers of the early 60s, the  Velvet Underground and 70s punk rockers did. As the story goes, Dusty Jermier, one of the longest tenured members of the band was originally recruited to play saxophone, an instrument he had never picked up before while members of earlier iterations of the band frequently had such a lack of interest in playing live for anyone that the band didn’t bother looking for gigs. 
Eventually, the band settled to its current lineup but with different intentions. Johnson, who’s a fan of largely impenetrable albums and arcane, small-press poetry books was fascinated by the idea of books that went unread or became largely out of favor and/or of print that were rediscovered by collectors or some bored critic looking for something different, and praised for being lost and under-appreciated gems. The band had purposely set out to make obscure albums that Johnson envisioned randomly leaving in libraries, thrift store margin bins and on park benches. Eschewing a MySpace page, a Soundcloud account or a website with MP3 downloads, the band gave away a limited pressing of 300 copies of their debut 10 inch vinyl album, paying the shipping costs for out of town requests — and unexpectedly, the album received some rave reviews, including one from Rolling Stone, which raised the album’s cachet and the band’s profile, thanks in part to a sound that the band has described as “a minimal, droning kind of garage band-influenced psychedelia with a noticeable 60s Krautrock influence” with some comparing the band to Suicide, The Velvet Underground, The Doors, Soft Machine and Guru Guru.

Building upon the growing buzz surrounding them, the members of Wooden Shjips released 2006’s “Dance California”/”Clouds Over the Earthquake,” to mark the centennial of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, which sold enough for the band to break even on their investment, and “Summer of Love 2007,” a single inspired by groups, who worked to make the world the kind of place they wanted to live in, like the Diggers, a local anarchist collective that founded the first Free Store and served free meals in Golden State Park to any and all comers, and the proceeds from the single went to the charitable foundation Food Not Bombs. Adding to a growing profile, the band’s second, real gig found them opening for the psych rock legend Roky Erickson.

The band’s self-produced and self-recorded full-length debut was recorded in the band’s rehearsal space, using a half-inch eight-track console that Jermier found, making the album a strictly analog affair aimed at getting high-quality and high-fidelity on an extremely low budget. Some tracks were layered-up demos while others were live studio jams with drum parts adding later, since they only had two tracks of the drums and no way to keep instruments from bleeding into each other noisily. But despite — or perhaps because of its DIY fashion, the album was released to critical applause that lead to the “Loose Lips”/”Start to Dreaming” 7 inch released by Sub Pop Records. Since then, the band has released three more full-length albums, 2009’s Dos, 2011’s West, 2013’s Back to Land and two compilations 2008’s Volume 1 and 2010’s Volume 2 — and they’ve managed this while the band’s Johnson has been busy with his acclaimed side project Moon Duo, with Sanae Yamada that has released four full-length albums and one EP.  Interestingly, V, the Bay Area-based psych rock band’s fifth full-length album and first album in over five years, finds the band reportedly expanding upon their sound while lightening the overall vibes, with the material being decidedly laid back, almost summery jams. 

Written last summer, Johnson has publicly said that he has viewed the material as a necessary antidote to the pervasive political anxiety and apocalyptic panic of American life; in fact, as Johnson says in press notes,“We had huge forest fires just outside of Portland and there was intense haze and layers of ash in the city. I was sitting on my porch every evening, watching ash fall down like snow, the sky looking like it was on fire. It was an apocalyptic feeling. Summer in Portland is usually really chill and beautiful, and we were working on a ‘summer record,’ but the outside world kept intruding on my headspace.” V., a graphic representation of the Peace sign, seemed apt to an album focused on the power of peace, beauty and resistance. The music is a balm against the noise and negativity.” 

V’s first single ““Staring at the Sun” featured a shimmering guitar pop sound with a steady groove reminiscent of Buffalo Springfield‘s “For What It’s Worth” and Psychic Ills‘ Inner Journey Out, and “Red Line,” its shoegazer rock meets classic psych rock-inspired follow up single may strike listeners and fans as a bit of return to form, as it features a hypnotic groove — while much like its predecessor, emphasizing slowing, down and pressing the reset button in a world gone absolutely mad. The album’s latest single is the twangy, Buffalo Springfield and Neil Young and Crazy Horse-like “Already Gone” — with a subtle twist to the proceedings, twinkling synths reminiscent of Who Are You-era The Who; but regardless of its influences, it’s the perfect road trip song, as it possesses an overwhelmingly optimistic view, centered on the possibility of new adventures, new friends, of transformation, of being lost and found within the double lines. Unsurprisingly, the recently released video begins with the band’s Johnson getting his bike to ride to the band’s studio space on a glorious day — much like today here in New York — to meet the rest of the band. And of course, they play some hackeysack together — because they’re hippies. But all is right and glorious: bullshitting with your friends and playing music is necessary in a world that’s mad. It’s sometimes the only thing you’ve got. 

 

Although currently comprised of founding member and primary songwriter Ripley Johnson (guitar, vocals), Dusty Jermier (trumpet, bass), Omar Ahsanuddin (drums) and Nash Whalen (organ), the renowned San Francisco, CA-based psych rock act Wooden Shjips can trace their origins back to 2003 when Johnson started the band with the intention of finding a group of non-musicians and creating music with them — with the underlying idea behind it being that untrained players would have a new outlook on what music is and how it’s played, and as a result bring something fresh to the table in a way that many of the garage punks of the early 60s and the Velvet Underground did. In fact one of the longest tenured members of the band, Jermier was originally recruited to play saxophone, an instrument he had never even picked up before while other members from their earliest iterations often had such a lack of interest in playing live for anyone that the band didn’t bother looking for gigs.

Eventually, the band settled to its current lineup — but this time, the intention was different: Johnson, a fan of seemingly impenetrable albums and arcane, small-press poetry books, was fascinated by the idea of books that went unread or became largely out of favor and/or of print that were rediscovered by collectors or some bored critic looking for something different, and praised for being lost and under-appreciated gems. And unsurprisingly, the band set about to make purposely obscure albums that Johnson envisioned leaving in libraries, thrift store bargain bins and on park benches. Eschewing a MySpace page, a Soundcloud account or a website with MP3 downloads, the band gave away a limited pressing of 300 copies of their debut 10 inch vinyl album, paying the shipping costs for out of town requests — and unexpectedly, the album received some rave reviews, including one from Rolling Stone, which raised the album’s cachet and the band’s profile, thanks in part to a sound that the band has described as “a minimal, droning kind of garage band-influenced psychedelia with a noticeable 60s Krautrock influence” with some comparing the band to Suicide, The Velvet Underground, The Doors, Soft Machine and Guru Guru.

Building upon the growing buzz surrounding them, the members of Wooden Shjips released 2006’s “Dance California”/”Clouds Over the Earthquake,” to mark the centennial of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, which sold enough for the band to break even on their investment, and “Summer of Love 2007,” a single inspired by groups, who worked to make the world the kind of place they wanted to live in, like the Diggers, a local anarchist collective that founded the first Free Store and served free meals to Golden State Park to any and all comers with the proceeds from the single going to Food Not Bombs. Interestingly, their second real gig as a band was a single release show, opening for the psych rock legend Roky Erickson.
The band’s self-produced and self-recorded full-length debut was recorded in the band’s rehearsal space on an half-inch eight-track console that Jermier found, making the album an strictly analog affair aimed at getting high-quality and high-fidelity on an extremely low budget. Some tracks were layered up demos while others were live studio jams with drum parts added later, since they only had two tracks of the drums and no way to keep instruments from bleeding into each other noisily. But despite — or perhaps because of its DIY fashion, the album was released to critical applause that lead to the “Loose Lips”/”Start to Dreaming” 7 inch released by Sub Pop Records.Since then, the band has released three more full-length albums, 2009’s Dos, 2011’s West, 2013’s Back to Land and two compilations 2008’s Volume 1 and 2010’s Volume 2 — and they’ve managed this while the band’s Johnson has been busy with his side project Moon Duo, his acclaimed dup with Sanae Yamada that has released four full-length albums and one EP.  Interestingly, V, the Bay Area-based psych rock band’s fifth full-length album and first album in over five years, finds the band reportedly expanding upon their sound while lightening the overall vibes, with the material being decidedly laid back, almost summery jams.

 

Written last summer, Johnson viewed the material as a necessary antidote to the pervasive political anxiety and apocalyptic panic; in fact, as Johnson says in press notes,
“We had huge forest fires just outside of Portland and there was intense haze and layers of ash in the city. I was sitting on my porch every evening, watching ash fall down like snow, the sky looking like it was on fire. It was an apocalyptic feeling. Summer in Portland is usually really chill and beautiful, and we were working on a ‘summer record,’ but the outside world kept intruding on my headspace.” V., a graphic representation of the Peace sign, seemed apt to an album focused on the power of peace, beauty and resistance. The music is a balm against the noise and negativity.”
 Now, as you may recall V’s first single “Staring at the Sun” was an expansive and shimmering guitar pop sound with a steady groove that seemed as though it owed a big sonic debut to Buffalo Springfield‘s “For What It’s Worth” and Psychic Ills‘ Inner Journey Out; however, V‘s latest single “Red Line” is a bit of a return to form, with the band nodding at both classic psych rock and contemporary shoegaze as the track is centered around droning instrumentation and a propulsive and hypnotic, motorik like groove. But much like its predecessor, the band emphasizes slowing, down and pressing the reset button in a world gone absolutely mad.

The band is currently touring to support their forthcoming fifth album, and you can check out the tour dates below.

Tour Dates:

 

April 20 – Half Moon Bay, CA – Old Princeton Landing [tickets]

April 21 – Santa Cruz – Michael’s On Main [tickets]

April 29 – Austin, TX – Levitation Festival

May 25 – Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios [tickets]

May 26 – Seattle, WA – Crocodile [tickets]

June 1 – Nelsonville, OH – Nelsonville Music Festival

June 2 – Chicago, IL – Empty Bottle [tickets]

June 4 – Detroit, MI – Marble Bar [tickets]

June 5 – Toronto, ON – Horseshoe Tavern [tickets]

June 7 – Los Angeles, CA – The Lodge [tickets]

June 9 – Sonoma, CA – Huichica Music Festival

 

Although currently comprised of founding member and primary songwriter Ripley Johnson (guitar, vocals), Dusty Jermier (trumpet, bass), Omar Ahsanuddin (drums) and Nash Whalen (organ), the renowned San Francisco, CA-based psych rock act Wooden Shjips can trace their origins back to 2003 when Johnson started the band with the intention of finding a group of non-musicians and creating music with them — with the underlying idea behind it being that untrained players would have a new outlook on what music is and how it’s played, and as a result bring something fresh to the table in a way that many of the garage punks of the early 60s and the Velvet Underground did. In fact one of the longest tenured members of the band, Jermier was originally recruited to play saxophone, an instrument he had never even picked up before while other members from their earliest iterations often had such a lack of interest in playing live for anyone that the band didn’t bother looking for gigs.

Eventually, the band settled to its current lineup — but this time, the intention was different: Johnson, a fan of seemingly impenetrable albums an arcane, small-press poetry books, was fascinated by the idea of books that went unread or became largely out of favor and/or of print that were rediscovered by collectors or some bored critic looking for something different, and praised for being lost and under-appreciated gems. And unsurprisingly, the band set about to make purposely obscure albums that Johnson envisioned leaving in libraries, thrift store bargain bins and on park benches. Eschewing a MySpace page, a Soundcloud account or a website with MP3 downloads, the band gave away a limited pressing of 300 copies of their debut 10 inch vinyl album, paying the shipping costs for out of town requests — and unexpected, the album received some rave reviews, including one from Rolling Stone, which raised the album’s cachet and the band’s profile, thanks in part to a sound that the band has described as “a minimal, droning kind of garage band-influenced psychedelia with a noticeable 60s Krautrock influence” with some comparing the band to Suicide, The Velvet Underground, The Doors, Soft Machine and Guru Guru.

Building upon the growing buzz surrounding them, the members of Wooden Shjips released 2006’s “Dance California”/”Clouds Over the Earthquake,” to mark the centennial of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, which sold enough for the band to break even on their investment, and “Summer of Love 2007,” a single inspired by groups, who worked to make the world the kind of place they wanted to live in, like the Diggers, a local anarchist collective that founded the first Free Store and served free meals to Golden State Park to any and all comers with the proceeds from the single going to Food Not Bombs. Interestingly, their second real gig as a band was a single release show, opening for the psych rock legend Roky Erickson.
The band’s self-produced and self-recorded full-length debut was recorded in the band’s rehearsal space on an half-inch eight-track console that Jermier found, making the album an strictly analog affair aimed at getting high-quality and high-fidelity on an extremely low budget. Some tracks were layered up demos while others were live studio jams with drum parts added later, since they only had two tracks of the drums and no way to keep instruments from bleeding into each other noisily. But despite — or perhaps because of its DIY fashion, the album was released to critical applause that lead to the “Loose Lips”/”Start to Dreaming” 7 inch released by Sub Pop Records.

Since then, the band has released three more full-length albums, 2009’s Dos, 2011’s West, 2013’s Back to Land and two compilations 2008’s Volume 1 and 2010’s Volume 2 — and they’ve managed this while the band’s Johnson has been busy with his side project Moon Duo, his acclaimed dup with Sanae Yamada that has released four full-length albums and one EP.  Interestingly, V, the Bay Area-based psych rock band’s fifth full-length album and first album in over five years, finds the band reportedly expanding upon their sound while lightening the overall vibes, with the material being decidedly laid back, almost summery jams.

Written last summer, Johnson viewed the material as a necessary antidote to the pervasive political anxiety and apocalyptic panic; in fact, as Johnson says in press notes,
“We had huge forest fires just outside of Portland and there was intense haze and layers of ash in the city. I was sitting on my porch every evening, watching ash fall down like snow, the sky looking like it was on fire. It was an apocalyptic feeling. Summer in Portland is usually really chill and beautiful, and we were working on a ‘summer record,’ but the outside world kept intruding on my headspace.” V., a graphic representation of the Peace sign, seemed apt to an album focused on the power of peace, beauty and resistance. The music is a balm against the noise and negativity.”
V‘s first single “Staring at the Sun” is an expansive, laid-back, shimmering delay pedal effected, guitar pop with a steady groove that sounds as though it owes a big sonic debt to Buffalo Springfield‘s “For What It’s Worth” and Psychic Ills‘ Inner Journey Out paired with a slowly building narrative centered around the gentle push and pull between the desire for sun and escape and the pressing tug of anxiety and uncertainty — with peaceful resistance to that anxiety and uncertainty winning the day and guiding the overall tone.   At one point, the song’s narrator seems to say “come on, man slow it down, daydream in the sun for a bit,” and you know what, goddamn it, the guy is right. Even in the face of a world constantly on the brink of annihilation, of a government on the verge of collapse and a social order being shredded apart, sometimes you need to push the reset button or you’ll go crazy.

 

The band will be embarking on a tour to support their newest effort and you can check out the tour dates below.

Tour Dates:

April 13 – Portland, OR – Bunk Bar [tickets]

April 14 – Bellingham, WA – Shakedown [tickets]

April 20 – Half Moon Bay, CA – Old Princeton Landing [tickets]

April 21 – Santa Cruz – Michael’s On Main [tickets]

April 29 – Austin, TX – Levitation Festival

May 25 – Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios [tickets]

May 26 – Seattle, WA – Crocodile [tickets]

June 1 – Nelsonville, OH – Nelsonville Music Festival

June 2 – Chicago, IL – Empty Bottle [tickets]

June 4 – Detroit, MI – Marble Bar [tickets]

June 5 – Toronto, ON – Horseshoe Tavern [tickets]

June 7 – Los Angeles, CA – The Lodge [tickets]

June 9 – Sonoma, CA – Huichica Music Festival