Con sus habituales urgencias a la hora de entender y facturar su música, Times New Viking, se presentaron en este 2012 con un Ep bajo el brazo, registrado para Siltbreeze, la compañía para la que publicaron allá por 2005 su debut. Su concepto no ha variado mucho en estos siete años: amor por el Lo-Fi, querencia hacia el Pop-Punk y las disonancias y por un repertorio distorsionado. Abandonan algo el tono más popero adoptado en su álbum para acercarse a la disonancia ruidosa de cortes como Future with girls, Middle class drags o Y2K2, aunque su tono más amable permanece en Telephone wires o Sleep-in. Un buen disco de transición temporal.
“Over & Over keeps its stakes on the manageable side, short, and loose, and profoundly uninterested in any kind of statement-making. But that whiff of modesty, coupled with their return to a label better suited to their ambitions, is sort of a statement in and of itself. You’re either in or out with Times New Viking; they’re too obstinate, too sadistic, the smart-dumb shit they talk in their lyrics too obtuse (and obscured by static) to not trying most people’s patience. Which means they’re far better off making slight but satisfying records like Over & Over for few obsessives than they are trying to figure out how the hell to get their uncompromising music over to a bigger crowd. For another band, Over & Over’s outright refusal to go for the gusto might represent a kind of defeat. For these guys, it feels like a sorely needed restart. Let those other bands chase their audiences; if you need Times New Viking, you know where to find them” (pitchfork.com)
El trío de Ohio que toma su nombre del tipo de letra característico del Word de todos los ordenadores domésticos, estrena este 2011 el que es su último lanzamiento: Dancer equired. El álbum presenta una diferencia algo sustancial en casi todo el sonido del mismo. TNV han decidido suavizar algo su crudeza musical y se han marcado una serie de cortes más conectados con el Indie digamos que de tendencia más ruidosa. La banda había prometido para este álbum “25% higher fidelity”. Y lo han cumplido. Desde el comienzo de Dancer equired, el trío se presenta con It´s a culture, un corte en el que predominan más las melodías y las voces que el ruido y la actitud Post-Punk de Born again revisited (2009), su última entrega, reseñada en TJB. Este camino paralelo al de The Vaselines o Beat Happening les conduce también por otros temas como Ever falling in love, No room to live, Ways to go, Don´t go to Liverpool, o el epílogo: No good, tema de ambientación de ukelele que les lleva a un extremo extrañamente relajado.
En cualquier caso, Times New Viking no iban a dejar de lado, evidentemente, su tendencia Lo-Fi-Proto-Punk, y más ahora que el “do it yourself” se lleva más que nunca. Si algo ha caracterizado a Times New Viking es su capacidad para generar ruido y distorsión, y en Dancer equired, aunque algo atemperados, como dijimos, no iban a dejar su capacidad de epatar: Try harder, California roll, New vertical dwellings, Dowtown eastern bloc, More rumours, Fuck her tears, Want to exist… son ejemplos de cómo conjugar en un mismo tema a Guided by Voices con Sonic Youth. En cualquier caso, esta dualidad no es absoluto excluyente, y se puede apreciar difuminada por todo el disco. Un disco de quizás demasiados cortes, pero que presenta momentos interesantes.
La banda está de gira en estos días por España, concretamente actuarán en Toledo, el día 10 de mayo en el Círculo de Arte; y en Salamanca, el 11 de mayo en Music Factory. Posteriormente, en Junio, subirán al escenario en Madrid, concretamente el 19 de junio en el Festival Día de la Música, fecha que se encuentra curiosamente en medio de su gira americana.
“There were whispers that this might happen four years ago. That was around the time Times New Viking made the jump from Siltbreeze, an outpost for the proudly abrasive and frayed, to Matador, an institution that has flirted with the mainstream since their 1990s heyday. The commercial prospects were curious: How well could they sell a band renowned for dropping hooks behind minefields of growl? Surely, Times New Viking, a trio of art-school grads and Guided By Voices disciples, would clean up their act. They didn’t. Their first LP as indie rock big leaguers, Rip It Off, opened with “Teen Drama”, a song whose every bar was so distorted, ill-tempered, and flat-out mean, it would have been almost too aggressive to try matching it as the record progressed. They did.
But that record ended up becoming a harbinger of noise to come. 2008 and 2009 saw a slew of young bands exploring pop and punk with comparable verve. The word “lo-fi” became a term nerds could use again to describe new music recorded on a budget, a large swathe of which became dedicated to mellow yellow beach energies, the exact opposite of the confrontational place where Times New Viking found their center. It wasn’t just for lack of a studio: They were a band unflinching in its commitment to ensuring its music sound definitively fucked up.
After one more equally gnarled full-length and the longest break between any such release (a startling two years) for the Columbus, Ohio trio, they’ve left for another landmark label, one run by a bunch of Matador defectors: Merge Records. Dancer Equiredmarks the end of said break and their debut as part of the Merge family. And, much like a slew of contemporaries who’ve recently made the switch to cleaner, relatively gussied-up studio recordings (No Age, Smith Westerns, Wavves, Cloud Nothings, and former labelmate Kurt Vile), it’s also their first LP without the noise that sheathed their work from the start. While many of those artists havesince released their finest work to date by stripping away a lot of the dissonance, the same can’t be said of Dancer Equired. Though revealing, this probably wasn’t the right set of songs to unveil in the process.
Opener “It’s a Culture” is brisk but out of tune, almost to the point where it feels as though all those sour notes are a simple substitute for distortion. The same problem can be heard prominently in “California Roll”, a number that sputters then sags while keyboardist/vocalist Beth Murphy makes a mess of the space vocally. And elsewhere, you’ll find careless takes in “More Rumours” and broken ukulele closer “No Good”, a song whose title feels like a setup. It’s an approach that more or less nullifies the decision to open up their sonics, and to a degree, functions as another security blanket: If these songs sound wholeheartedly tossed-off, then they also can’t be taken that seriously either. While it’s definitely easier now to discern the layers of a Times New Viking song, it’s become more difficult to ascertain whether or not this is a record that exposes serious shortcomings that were there all along.
That’s because Dancer Equired also features some truly great moments as well. While neither Murphy nor drummer Adam Elliott are particularly strong vocalists, they’ve never needed to be up until now. “No Room to Live” boasts both a terrific melody and the kind of harmonic streamlining that’s forgotten in most corners of the record. The zing of “Fuck Her Tears” more than suggests that they’re capable of crafting spirited hooks out in the open, too. This record is in no way the full-fledged leap in fidelity or accessibility they could have made, but ditching all that racket has clarified something significant: It wasn’t so effective because it obscured what they were doing, but rather, it amplified the menace inherent in their best moments. Just like in the case of “Teen Drama”, you can still hear some of that in “Try Harder” or “Want to Exist”, songs that sound like these three might gnash their teeth and bear those fangs at any second. We know they’re in there (pitchfork.com)
“A pox on those who claim the venerable VHS format is dead ; in fact, Times New Viking delivered the master recordings to their forthcoming LP/CD/digital album ‘Born Again Revisited’ (OLE 860) on a Video Home System cassette. Addressing the mountain of constructive criticism they’ve received from self-styled musicologists wanna-be producers and persons with my initials, the Columbus based trio promise their 2nd Matador album (and 4th overall) features “25% higher fidelity”, a percentage our own engineering staff has confirmed after hourse of exhaustive laboratory tests.
Much has been made in the press of late of Cheap Trick’s attempts to steal Adam, Beth and Jared’s thunder by releasing their upteenth comeback album on 8-track, but with all due respect to the state fair fixtures Rockford’s finest, it’s been a generation since they’ve come up with anything as provocative as ‘Born Again Revisited’’s “Move To California” or “No Time No Hope” (mp3). While Times New Viking continue to make-it-look-easy, I can assure you it’s anything but that. A cursory glance at the American rock underground reveals a landscape littered with well-intentioned but vastly inferior bands who’ve caught the lo-fi bug ; Times New Viking are well advised to disavow responsibility for the epidemic, but whoever the guilty party is, the ferocity of TNV’s shows and their sheer quality of their songwriting should be enough to win them a presidential pardon, not unlike the one ‘Born Again’ author Chuck Colson never quite received” (Nota de prensa de Matador Records)