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November 2013
Wooden Shjips
"Back to Land

Hailing from San Francisco, psychedelic group Wooden Shjips, has just released their newest album Back to Land. The album brings together a sound crafted from inspirations that range from psychedelic music to classic rock.

The album is an entire trip in itself.  One can hear hints of 80s music, classic rock, and modern garage rock styles in the record, but they always resolve back to their classic psychedelic sound. With tracks like “In The Roses,” which brings a very spacey, low volume vocals, and a lo-fi sound that is not too cheesy or under produced. to “Ghouls,” which is a much faster, much more psychedelic rock sounding song that takes influences from classic rock guitar chords, while still utilizing classic psychedelic synthesizers.

Most songs on the album carry a jam-band sound, without becoming too abstract or getting too carried away. And in some cases, the music is so vast in genre diversity, one is surprised at the resulting sound, such as in the track, “These Shadows”, which starts off with an extremely catchy intro guitar riff and carries a vague David Bowie meets Velvet Underground sound.

“Back to Land” is a great piece of work that utilizes the potential of each member of Wooden Shjips effectively and thoroughly.

Most importantly, “Back to Land” is an experimentation of how far the psychedelic genre can stretch while still successfully staying true to its roots.

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EP Review: The Actors - High and Low

EP Review: The Actors - High and Low

Nestled somewhere in the nebulous cracks between genres, The Actors' latest EP High and Low (my first encounter with their sound) is a moving combination of heroic vocals, gentle synthesizer tones, and grooving beats. Mixed with a generous helping of reverb, High and Low is a vivacious and sincere synth-heavy pop album.

Opened by rhythmic tonal croaks amidst layers of ethereal synth melodies, High and Low gradually comes to life with the esoteric “Theory of Something.” An interesting combination of lyrics both metaphorical and grounded, “Theory of Something” builds its conclusion in charming vocal harmonies that “everything is something sometime” only to morph into a gentle grooving outro.

“Through A False Door” follows, quickly exploding in a brilliant burst of guitar hooks and voluminous synthesizer tones. Characterized by its epic atmosphere and a chugging baseline, “Through A False Door” continues to build on the previous tracks intensity with the lead singer belting out in a powerful high tenor.

With a distinct synth line and funky grind on the bottom end, all the best elements that make up High and Low come together on the albums most seductive track “First Date.” The singer is able to show off an impressive vocal range, with fantastic harmonies supporting it, while a tight knit drum and bass build a strong foundation for the more delicate synth tones to rest upon.

This probably best describes what the Actors are able to accomplish with their sound. With such epic and capacious sounds there needs to be something that grounds the listener to the moment of the song. Strong rhythmic baselines coupled with an impressive clock-like drummer fix the ears to a point while the rest of the sounds spiral about in glorious high-energy bursts and reverberations.

Catchy and sweet, High and Low is an exciting EP with plenty of space to discover sounds and hooks within the music that will certainly delight your ears. Rumor is The Actors are working on a new release. If High and Low is a herald of anything then we should expect whatever is upcoming to be just as stimulating.


-Ada Lann



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