Wooden Shjips: 5 Albums That Changed My Life
West Coast psychedelic quartet Wooden Shjips recently dropped their fifth album, V.. To celebrate, the band’s Erik “Ripley” Johnson put together a list of albums that changed his life.
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Link Wray and His Ray Men, Great Guitar Hits
Link Wray made me want to strip everything back, down to the groove. He also showed how much you could do with just a guitar and amp, and the importance of feeling and tone. For the original Shjips stuff we looked to early rock & roll in general, especially as a dance music, for inspiration.
Blue Cheer, Vincebus Eruptum
This album affirmed my desire to unlearn the guitar, forget all of the licks I had figured out over the years. Leigh Stephens had a discordant lead style, or maybe it’s more that he just didn’t want to play the proper notes. You never really know where he’s going in his solos, but it always sounds inevitable and correct and wrong at the same time.
Träd, Gräs och Stenar, Träd, Gräs och Stenar
This box set has most everything you need from Träd, Gräs och Stenar, including my first love, Mors Mors. They were a primary inspiration for the early Shjips (even down to our name), along with a few other hippie jam bands. It was the primitive, free improv, drone rock, Sister Ray-on-quaaludes groove (which the Velvet Underground obviously originated).
High Rise, II
High Rise were one of many ’90s Japanese psych bands that were hugely inspirational. Anything on PSF Records was must-hear for me back in the day: High Rise, Fushitsusha, White Heaven, Marble Sheep & The Run-Down Sun’s Children. There appeared to be this amazing psych scene in Tokyo, all coming out through this one label, which we didn’t really have in the U.S .at the time.
Angus MacLise, The Cloud Doctrine
Another big influence on the Shjips was the classic minimalist stuff: Terry Riley, LaMonte Young, John Cale, Tony Conrad, etc… But Angus MacLise was always my favorite. The original drummer for the Velvet Underground, his sound was woolier than the rest, and he used bongos a lot, which I love. We were really into the drone, the repetitive grooves, but we merged it with the rock & roll.
(Photo credit: Jason Powers)
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