If you find a way to parse the unwieldy exclamations and absurd sales pitches that pass for rock journalism these days, then let me know. I find myself relying on old modes of discovery, such as finding a record that looks off-kilter somehow, vaguely packaged and illustrated so as not to announce what it is inside. Some lettering and picture that doesn’t scream GENRE! I so often look at the cover of an album and know right off that I’m not interested. Not fair to judge a book by its cover (or a record, of course), but I do and I’m usually pretty close. I’ve been surprised a few times, but never enough to distrust my instinct when flipping through the racks. So, I found a record this morning by Wooden Shjips. Very little information on the cover or inside, blurry photograph, but the spelling of “Shjips,” somehow triggered enough curiosity in me to pick it up. Had it not been for that inkling, I would have thought, “old songs, alt-country, retread.” Put it on, though, and you get this weird organ, bass, drums, and reverb vocal piece that made me wonder if I’d mistakenly put in the Spiritualized disc I picked up at the library as well. So, first impression makes me think that I still have some radar left to show me some things I don’t already know. A sure sign that my intellectual and cultural death has been staved off yet again.

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