wears the trousers magazine

times new viking: born again revisited (2009)
September 17, 2009, 9:10 am
Filed under: album, review | Tags: , , ,


Times New Viking
Born Again Revisited ••••

When Times New Viking formed five years ago at art school in Columbus, Ohio, only one-third of them actually had any musical ability at the time. A mere technicality, however, when punk DIY ethos is the order of the day, and Beth Murphy, Jared Phillips and Adam Elliott (who had the aforementioned ability, on drums) promptly became a band anyway. Their 2005 debut Dig Yourself was followed by 2007’s entertaining Times New Viking Present The Paisley Reich and enough sought-after EPs and 7″ singles to award them an upgrade from Philadelphian indie Siltbreeze to the mighty Matador roster with last year’s voraciously acclaimed Rip It Off. Their sound has often been described as lo-fi indie, but, really, indie is too tame a descriptive to illustrate their style, which is very much characterised by the use of distortion and feedback. And lo-fi certainly doesn’t equal minimalist for this volatile trio.

Rather than graduating from the humble four-track recorder, fourth album Born Again Revisited finds Times New Viking toying with the very definition of fidelity by delivering the ‘masters’ to Matador on a VHS tape. All pretention aside, this is actually appropriate; such is the distorted sound, that disappearing medium is just about right. If you can imagine Sonic Youth teaming with the Velvet Underground and Nico, but with only the cheapest, most hissy boombox upon which to record…well, you get the idea. Sonically, their lack of clear production is as much a part of their style as are the thrashing guitars, dirty, muffled, unharmonised vocals and layers of various noises, all hinged together with punk-pop hooks. Add to this a respectful nod to the ’60s with a Hammond organ sound, played by Murphy and most present on the track ‘City On Drugs’, and the result is a rather delightful package of garage vigour, which requires no cleaning up. (God forbid if Butch Vig ever got a hold of the band, there could be nothing left at the end.)

Vocals are shared by Murphy and Elliott and they utilise the back and forth style well, though the warped production often means you can’t tell who is singing anyways; often it’s both at the same time. ‘No Sympathy’ borrows heavily from Sonic Youth – think ‘Mary Christ’, only more shambolic – but it’s ‘Half Day In Hell’ that actually reveals there is a female presence at all, albeit a droning one. The standout songs are ‘Hustler, Psycho, Son’, which is probably the poppiest, and ‘These Days’, which eases up on the clutter enough to give Nico a run for her money. Like an Atari Teenage Riot for those who also want tunes, they have a reputation for playing very, very loud when live. It’s safe to assume then that this is how they want the album to be listened to. Brilliant as it is, it could result in quite an assault on the ears. Perhaps the band are more suited to releasing EPs, where the listener can delight in four tracks at a time, rather than be overwhelmed by 15.

Stephanie Heney
UK release date: 21/09/09; www.myspace.com/timesnewviking

FREE MP3: Times New Viking, ‘No Time, No Hope’ [via Pitchfork]
Times New Viking, ‘Move To California’
[via Pitchfork]


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