Times New Viking
on Ye Olde Tuesday Afternoon Rocke Show
Tuesday May 31, 2011, 3pm
Contrary to popular belief, the members of Times New Viking are not art school dropouts, they’re art school graduates; and instead of following the path of stuffy galleries and regular unemployment, they chose to start a band. Times New Viking, consisting of Beth Murphy on keyboards/vocals, Adam Elliott on drums/vocals, and Jared Phillips on guitar, began inconspicuously in 2003, when it was particularly out of vogue to do it yourself. Those initial demos of messy, noise-crusted, indie rock recordings were merely practice tapes of late-night house parties. Those tapes were lovingly lo-fi, tapping into the gnarled aesthetics of Columbus’ old guard and reflecting the influence of legendary Ohio bands like Guided by Voices, the Breeders, and Pere Ubu. Frequently playing out, Times New Viking soon got too big for the living room, and eventually those tapes dropped into the hands of Philadelphia’s Tom Lax. The cacophony Lax found was enough to coax him out of retirement, lifting the mothballs from his dormant Siltbreeze imprint to release the band’s debut album, Dig Yourself, in 2005. By the time Present the Paisley Reich arrived in 2007, it was easy to see that the jitters and foibles of being a rookie band had been shed, and Times New Viking were increasingly confident in their songwriting. Phillips’ guitar-playing became an electrifying spectacle in the live setting; Murphy’s synth bleats and cooing innocence a magnet for collector scum; and Elliott’s lyrics, about love and war and romantic nihilism, stronger in their call to arms for a disaffected youth culture. But no matter how far their star rose—making the jump from Siltbreeze to indie-elite Matador Records in 2007—they still sounded like the best Rough Trade one-off you always wanted to keep to yourself.
Dancer Equired, the band’s first album for Merge, is a return to the hive, even if the record’s creation was outside of their usual boundaries. It should be known that for the first time, the trio escaped to a studio, namely Columbus Discount Recording and the famed Mus-i-col (closest thing to Muscle Shoals we got), during the Summer of Violence. With the help of Adam Smith and Dustin White, Times New Viking produced and recorded an album that sounds like a mellow night out. Though it abandons the pissy histrionics of the past, the record retains the loud, brash, mammoth guitars but also magnifies the bright, beautiful traits the band has nurtured since the beginning. Now they say “It’s a Culture,” and as the nuanced melodies of Dancer Equired appear directly on the surface (as opposed to, say, buried underneath), you begin to believe it. Rip it up and start again.
You can catch them later this night as the headliner at Trinity Irish Pub (1505 University Avenue in Charlottesville), along with Andrew Cedermark and Hooking Up, a WTJU Presents show in conjunction with Holy Smokes Booking.