Times New Viking with Psychedelic Horseshit & the Annuals at Neumos, Seattle | 10 June 2008
I think the number one reason I went to this show last night was to see if one of the band would catch fire from the sparks that surely must come off of their guitars and amps when they play. I had this crazy image of Times New Viking playing as sparks fly everywhere from the sheets of white noise that result from playing their instruments, like sharpening axes on a grindstone. On record, the songs seem to be recorded in an blatantly unproduced, treble heavy way. They probably have this super elaborate production thing going on to get that sound, or maybe not. It could be as simple as not having a bass player.
Live, they come across less white noise and more pop. The singing and the melodies normally buried under the noise show thier faces. The songs were only dressed down with a little noise instead of nearly being obliterated. With Beth’s keyboards more prominent, their sound was more nuanced, like an early Stereolab with choruses that have a Superchunk feel to them, instead of straight Boyracer, Flying Saucer Attack or Guided by Voices. I don’t think the band would argue with that assessment, drummer and songwriter Adam Elliot introducing all of the songs as ‘This is pop song #4’, ‘Here is pop song #27″. They still kept the songs short and they came one after the other in at a quick pace, only briefly conferring around the drums to hear what the next song would be. Since they didn’t play off a setlist, the band would kind of conference around the drums between songs to hear what the next song Adam wanted to play. Guitarist, Jared Phillips played most of the set with his back to the audience, more to keep in time with the drums than a shyness thing. It was his guitar playing that surprised me the most, because it wasn’t so covered up in effects or distortion, you could actually hear chords.
Times New Viking is probably not for everyone and the small turnout Tuesday night was evidence of that. Their songs don’t immediately reveal themselves, but the pop is under there, and live it’s a little more obvious…a little.
I got there for the end of Psychedlic Horseshit’s set. They are fellow Ohioians and friends with Times New Viking, and their sound is based in the same love of noise but Psychelic Horseshit like to go off on tangents in their songs making them into long jams. They like to kneel down and play with buttons and knobs, and nearly every song digressed into one or more of them on their knees. After Psychedlic Horseshit, came the Annuals. I’m not sure who’s bright idea it was to book the Annuals with TNV, but it made for a very strange bill. It seemed like both bands brought totally different audiences. It seemed like people there for the Annuals left after their set, and the TNV fans came in from drinking over at the Mo Bar after the Annuals set. I hung out for half of the Annuals, but their bombastic pop just didn’t really do much for me.
How pop are TNV? Well check out TNV’s reworking of the riff to Billy Bragg’s This Guitar Says Sorry.
mp3: Times New Viking – Come Together (from Rip it Off)
mp3: Billy Bragg – This Guitar Says Sorry (from Back to Basics)