I wasn’t alive in the sixties and I’ve never been to America, but oh, if only today’s mega-selling headliners could sound like this. According to Louis Theroux’s latest BBC adventure, the Arnie-featuring tourism adverts and the combined moanings of ace San Diego new-comers Wavves and Crocodiles, California is a very boring place for anyone who doesn’t love moneyed superficiality, surfing and/or crystal meth. However, this seems to have inspired bands of this boring decade, Wooden Shjips included, to capture the essence of the State’s glory days, proving that rock and roll can transcend time and context. Hurray! Plastering over a motorik rhythm section that recalls the gloriously repetitive thump of Neu! And Suicide with dense guitar lines and organ stabs, the San Franciscans whirl through an hour and a half set in what seems like twenty minutes. It starts with ‘Aquarian Time’ and ‘Fallin” from their excellent new album and stays at an almost constant level of intensity, the tempo shifting between songs providing contrast, reeling you deeper and deeper in. Set against do-not-adjust-your-TV-set visuals, their jams, which include an impossibly rapturous Spacemen Three cover, are kicked out in a heady, wah-ridden fashion; almost telepathically tight and incredibly loud, the sound of a modern day Stooges emerging from a smack binge with a grain of Truth.
By Edgar Smith
Originally published in issue 13 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. December 2009