Times New Viking

Monday, 17 March 2008, 12:45 | Category : Uncategorized
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In my experience, people are usually either into music or hi-fi, not both. Of course, I’m generalising massively, but I think it’s a fairly accurate generalisation. Those I have known with top of the range equipment often have a relative lack of music to play on their gear, or just have a general lack of excitement about music – their pleasure is derived more from getting that perfect sound coming out of the speakers. On the other hand, the people I know who really love their music (and there are more of them, I’m pleased to say) are too busy spending money on records, CDs and gig tickets to have much left for expensive hi-fi systems. I actually have some decent hi-fi equipment (good quality Cambridge Audio amp and CD player, decent turntable and great old Wharfedale speakers) but I listen to much more music on the crappy CD player in the kitchen, and on my iPod or computers than I do in my lounge where the hi-fi sits.

All of this is by way of a rambling into to Times New Viking, mainly because I wonder what my hi-fi loving acquaintances would make of this Ohio band. They would hate the music no doubt, because no amount of Bang and Olufsen gear would make TNV sound crisp. Their third album Rip it Off is one of the roughest I’ve ever heard, certainly of any released on a big-ish label (in this case, Matador) and the production values on this are virtually nil. The sound is super-abrasive and at times sounds like it might as well be coming out of a mobile phone. It’s been cheaply recorded, it’s all treble, sometimes you can barely even hear the drums properly and to be honest, listening to the whole album all the way through is a bit of a test on the old ears.

All of this might make you think that I hate Rip it Off, but taken in small, punchy doses, it’s hard to beat. I can see why Matador has decided to release it unadulterated and without any re-recording. It’s 100% lo-fi punky energy, like a more hyperactive Pavement or Guided by Voices recorded in a bath inside a garden shed, and in short-sharp blasts (average track length is about 2 minutes) it blows most other stuff around just now clean out the water. My Head is simply one of the best pop songs I’ve heard all year. From the urgency of these tracks, I can imagine that they’re amazing live too – and at least then (unless it’s a proper dodgy indie hole), you’ll get to hear them more clearly.

Download: Times New Viking – My Head
Download: Times New Viking – Faces on Fire

Rip it Off is out in the UK on 28 April, though you can buy advance copies now from Rough Trade. TNV are over here in May. The London dates are:

14 May – Café Oto* (UTR gig with Jay Reatard)
15 May – Old Blue Last
21 May – Corsica Studios

*a new venue in Dalston, which I’m keen to see.

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