Tag Archives: Times New Viking

The Year. 15-11


15. Times New Viking – Born Again Revisited [US]
So fucked it feels like it’s hurting your brain and damaging your speakers even when it’s down low. It’s Times New Viking, what do you expect? Received wisdom still maintains that Times New Viking are Yo La Tengo shooting their own tapes with nail guns from behind a particularly fuzzy curtain. But (as I’ve moaned before) the world’s postmodern now and there’s nothing external to a piece of art, so forget all about squeejeeing away the fuzz to get to the songs and simply embrace the abrasive, anarchistic catchiness of it. Even if it literally hurts to do so. City On Drugs, for example, is excellent, though fairly strictly to Rip It Off’s formula. Move To California, though is a darker, more serious Times New Viking channelling emo when it was the same thing as college rock. The sad fate of succeeding a classic album casts a shadow on Born Again Revisited, but not one it can’t at least answer to in its own right.

Further thought on fuzz-as-sauce vs. fuzz-as-intrinsic last year, and a live video from Whelans.


14. Jeffrey Lewis and the Junkyard – Em Are I [US]
If self-consciousness was music, it would be Jeffrey Lewis. Not quite as dark as neurosis and more constantly present than embarrassment. It’s in the shuffling, fuzzy acoustic arrangements, it’s in the nerdy comic-book cover art, but more than anything else, obviously, it’s in the lyrics. The motto inscribed on the theoretical title page of the multi-volume autobiography that is Lewis’ work is the unfunny punchline of the opening track slogans: “And I kept repeating it to myself to convince myself it was true – that everyone you meet is not better than you.” Not to say that there’s nothing more to Jeffrey Lewis than self-pity, because anyone familiar with anti-folk’s centre-pole will know that there’s nothing he says that isn’t simultaneously funny, sad and tuneful in a slipshod way. He has carved a singular career out for himself, and this could be the highlight. You’d think he’d be a little more cocksure, but then “going bald is the most manly thing I’m ever gonna do”. So maybe not.

A live review from Crawdaddy, and some weird BBC video.


13. Camera Obscura – My Maudlin Career [SCO]
Camera Obscura exist in a universe that somehow approximates what would happen if one was to superimpose the stylistic elements of the kitchen sink British 60s onto the modern day. In charity shop vintage, they present a honey-sweetened indie-pop sadness, filmed on grainy Super 8. These are not, as some have said, child-like love songs. They’re love songs that swapped cassettes and dog-eared books when they were younger and can’t rid themselves of dreams of tandem bicycle picnics. If an album that begins with the declaration “Spent a week in a dusty library!” is just to twee for you, that’s fine. But for some, the pillowy, melancholy sweetness will trigger a certain familiar strand of nostalgia for awkward moments and love that didn’t happen.

French Navy video and a Guest List.



12. HEALTH – Get Color
[US]
Progressive is fine. Experimental is fine. Go that route if you like, but if you do it right, even the most close-minded club attendee is going to be sucked magnetically from wall-propping position to the middle of the dancefloor. That’s what Get Color means, then. Get Color in the sense of hewing pop music from slabs of noise, but also Get Color in the sense of bringing a whole new palette into play, of bringing innovation to people whether they want it or not. You won’t hear many albums as simultaneously abrasive and immediately appealing as this, so my advice is to put it on in the dark, as loud as it deserves, and get a little colour yourself.

This is the last paragraph and a half of the Trinity News review of this album. Die Slow is on it, and is so good it will blow you up.


11. Christmas Island – Blackout Summer [US]
2009 witnessed the rise of lo-fi, and its fall. Things move quickly now, probably too quickly, and that unfortunately means that if Christmas Island melt down in the Catalan sun, they’ll only have themselves to apologise to. Not that it really matters. Blackout Summer is the best sort of apathetic guitar pop, the kind where songs are literally called things like I Don’t Care and Weird You Out. With a sense of humour and a preference for reverb over distortion making this closer to So Cow than to Wavves, the eleven song set scans like a greatest hits compilation for an insidiously catchy garage band who never got past passing out tapes. Its twin highlights are Black Cloud – a proto-anthem about paranoia – and Dinosaurs – a lament for the passing of the dinosaurs. Without a raised eyebrow in sight.

The real Christmas Island is full of radioactive land crabs, not guitar pop.

You say it’s gravity, and gravity has a hold on me.

Plucked unceremoniously from this Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cmcallisterphotography/

Plucked unceremoniously from this Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cmcallisterphotography/

Foggy Notions has its screwed on right anyway. On Friday night in Dublin city centre, for only two euro more than it would have cost you to arrive after its conclusion to dance to Eton Rifles on the cement-clad Whelans playlist, Times New Viking arrived back in Dublin with Lovvers in tow as support.

Slacker punk 09. There was still a lot of empty space around the venue by 9 o’clock, which was mildly disappointing, but barely audible fuzz-drenched blown-out no-fi art school punk is understandably not everyone’s favourite genre of music. The venue filled up to somewhere around half-capacity, I’d say, but the only negative effect of this was on Lovvers’ stage energy.

Last time Lovvers were around, they were downstairs in the Boom Boom Room at hearing loss volumes, 50% of the band playing, Wounds-like, from the floor and the singer turning the act of singing barely above the swell of noise into a tactile, audience-bothering affair. They weren’t that loud this time, and they stayed on the stage. Doesn’t mean they’re not great though.

Channelling not-arsed US punk from the 1980s through a haze of mist, with ultra-melodic lead guitar lines popping up from time to time, they proved that they can be a very fun live band without literally having to dance into the front row every thirty seconds. Which is probably an advantage in certain scenarios.

No Romantics is still their catchiest, most exuberant and best song, even though the follow-up to Think, OCD Go Go Go Girls, is plenty melodic and exuberant. Lovvers can tend to fall below my radar, essentially because they’re English, but the gig was more than enough to make me search out the old promo CDs that first made me scratch my head and wonder if I liked them.

Times New Viking also once made me scratch my head and wonder aloud, “why don’t they just do it without the blanket of fuzz”. Those were famous last words before I noticed that Rip It Off was as good as it is regardless (or because of) the semantics of it. It married US slacker punk, Kiwi lo-fi and the sound of plugging a lead into the amp before the guitar. It’s carved out of pure, unadulterate punk noise like an impressionist painting, or more likely, a Jackson Pollock stinking equally of paint and piss.

Oh, Handjob Films has you covered again, by the way:

The time I reviewed Rip It Off for the unwieldly annual review project, my customary arguing-receptacle Dan claimed that “the three Vikings are complete chancers, and make both shallow pop and shallow noise music. And two shallows don’t make a deep end.” When Dan says things like that, it pains me 50% more than statements I disagree with normally pain me, because he always coats it so well in varnish, but nine months on, I still could not disagree more.

They’re not a power-trio because they’re not tight enough to be called a power-trio (even though they’re getting tighter each time), but there’s definitely too much sincerity and abandon about Times New Viking live to ever call them shallow. They just get drunk and play loud music. They don’t really bother with singing in tune because that would compromise the loudness and authenticity of their singing. Or something.

Their new album is, and it always hurts to say this but it’s sometimes necessary, NOT AS GOOD as the last one. But to be fair, it comes off much more immediate live than it does over fifteen recorded tracks. The energy in the room never dropped because they were playing a new song.

But guess what the highlights were. Yeah, you’re right. My Head. Faces on Fire. And the ultimate parting shot, the things-fall-apart communal noisy shout-fest that is End of All Things. When you actually have a song that refers to it being the end, it’s tough to follow it with an encore, and it’s even tougher when you’re battling an inevitable zombie-like swathe of weekend Shirts in Whelans, so there was no encore (much to the chagrin of certain booing gentlemen). But it didn’t matter.

One posi-fuzz-punk-fi band for twelve euro would be the going rate. Two feels like profit. More of this sort of bill, Foggy Notions.

+

The Year. 5. Your face is on fire, your hair is a mess.

5. Times New Viking – Rip It Off
MatadorI just watched a documentary made by a very embittered middle-aged man about the obsession of record-collecting, the individuals who indulge in it, and what they sacrifice to do so. When offered “warmth” as an explanation as to why one would accumulate 20,000 LPs, one collector retold something that Geddy Lee (of the prog band Rush, who you never have to listen to) explained to him: vinyl isn’t really warmer. The light distortion is just creating that impression, and he only prefers it to CD because it is recreating a recording embedded in his mind.Those sound waves that Neil Young claims are missing – they’re just being filled up with the crackle of static and pick-up buzz. It’s a self-created myth of nostalgia for a youth on the bedroom floor, a fondness for the ritual maybe, but nothing more.

It’s an interesting thought. “Warm”. What does that even mean, in a musical context? How do you describe it? Is cold something like Merriweather Post Pavilion, where every note occupies its own space and the entire song is preserved in crystal? Is warm… Times New Viking?

It certainly fits with Geddy Lee’s theory. Live, Times New Viking are a reasonably polite, guitar-led indie pop band. It has elements of Flying Nun kiwi lo-fi, elements of surf rock, elements of 60s beat bands. Obvious elements of Yo La Tengo’s moments of smaller scope. But on record, it becomes something transcendent. Because Times New Viking create noise. They create those in-between waves, the static. They do it on purpose, too. This isn’t like the Royal Trux or something like that, people kicking their guitars and groaning. These are good, catchy songs. Recorded clean. And then forced, like the weight of the world turning coal into diamonds, into this muddle of colliding music, this mess.

When you can barely hear lyrics, the phrases you think you hear become so much more important. It’s the same thing that made Murmur by REM so great, and that gets people through the sonar-bleep Sigur Rós songs while they wait for the drama to build again. Drop Out equates getting up late and being a wreck so perfectly, even if it doesn’t mean to, that I can’t wake up at 5 ever again without hearing it. And My Head? I’m not sure what’s wrong with my head, but I know there’s something, and it was probably caused by the noise.

Songs like The End Of All Things are made into something unreal by the gain-knob abuse. It sounds like the song that plays out over the credits after the actual, factual apocalypse… “that’s all for everyone, that’s all for you”. And when the noise cuts out, the smoke clears and you can survey what is left of your house and your possessions (and your hearing, after half an hour of this on headphones)… there are about five seconds when you can see into the heart of all of this, and you know that it makes sense. I don’t know why. I can’t tell you why, just like I got the why of it wrong when I did my initial review for Analogue. It just makes sense.

Wash away what we create

So I also went to that Drowned In Sound show at Whelans too, thanks to the beneficence of my lovely girlfriend, who pitched exactly right on what I would want for a birthday present. I won’t bore you with the details of my Odyssean trek to the venue, because I probably already did between bands, but just remember never to get a 38 bus anywhere ever if you still have the use of your extremities and your critical faculty.

The mess that is post-rich Ireland’s transport infrastructure meant that I missed all but the last couple of songs by Times New Viking. Close watchers will know that I also missed Times New Viking last time they played because I was at The Mae Shi and they went on early. Guess why I missed them this time? They went on early.

What sort of promoter puts on “motherfuckin’ Times New Viking” (Dean Allen Spunt, No Age) at 8 o’clock? I mean I made it to the venue at about twenty minutes past eight and I only saw the last two songs. The ticket said doors at 8. I have never been to a gig where the band starts at the time the doors were supposed to open, because logically, there would be no-one there at that time. This is apparently what happened last night. I wouldn’t know, because I wasn’t there. Fuck everything.

Anyway, next tack.

No Age were incredible, thankfully. It was my second time seeing them, but my first time indoors, and my first time with a respectful amount of album-listening done. Last time was more fun in the sense that the Dutch punks at Lowlands were moshing enough to make my wobbly headbanging seem okay. Last night my wobbly headbanging seemed to be shared by only two or three acquaintances and the members of Los Campesinos! who were in the crowd.

The show, though. Very, very loud. Intense. No Age have some really great songs. Teen Creeps, for example, has got to be one of the songs of the year.

Strum, strum, strum. Dididi-deh-do-do – NOISE. Washes and washes of noise. Two guys just being honest about it, playing a great song at a volume that cannot be ignored. There aren’t many better moments in modern life than the heavy bit kicking in. And that’s what No Age are all about.

They had some new stuff (I think) which was more directly rocking and less obfuscated. I enjoyed this. I would like to see No Age at a house-party (maybe the Hideaway House as Adam said in a comment below) or somewhere less self-conscious and less full of LC! fans. Because they’ve got energy in spades and it’s a pity not many were sharing in the loud, loud glory of it.

As for Los Campesinos, I didn’t like them. I’ve never liked them anyway, but they were never going to beat No Age. It’s their own fault for picking such good support acts. Their lyrics are so blatantly poserish that I’m surprised anyone except teenage girls can stomach it. “I was listening to music and reading fiction at the same time” or whatever. I mean, what the fuck is that? They play like a major label band on Letterman or something. There’s no heart to it. They’re just trying to be clever, and their songs aren’t particularly good. They’re the opposite of No Age’s honesty, in my eyes. If they didn’t have vaguely different instrumentation I don’t think anyone would ever have thought of them as separate from the NME continuum in the first place. Because they’re not. Death to Los Campesinos.

Long live No Age.

Times New Viking I am sorry please don’t split up before I see you.

+

Got up late, no room to breathe (Monday, pt. 2)


So The Mae Shi at Crawdaddy on Monday was really good. But the real reason I left the house on Monday was to go to Times New Viking. Whose new album I really like.

Long story short, there was a mix-up with times. We assumed the Mae Shi would be done early because they were a support act in a Pod venue where curfew is king.

And we assumed Times New Viking would start late. Because it was in Andrew’s Lane, which has a theatre licence. And because of an anonymous tip-off (probably not anonymous, I just don’t know who it was).

We left the Mae Shi at about 10.20, before they were finished. Thinking Times New Viking couldn’t have started earlier than 10, and more than likely would be a little late.

Plus, promoters were pretty accommodating about Sunset Rubdown/No Age and Liars/Thurston Moore. And The Mae Shi and Times New Viking seem like they would have a fairly big crossover. So it would be okay.

Not so.

It was raining. We ran all the way down Harcourt St.

We got there.

“SHIT! Is it over?!”

“Yeah dude, you guys missed it”, quoth the drummer from Times New Viking, smoking outside.

Fuck.