Saturday, January 24, 2015

Viet Cong & Show # 544

Viet Cong’s debut self-titled album starts off with “Newspaper Spoons” featuring distorted pounding drums, while reverb vocals penetrate the listener’s subconscious. As the song picks up we hear an icy fuzz pedal that provides a stinging intensity to the song. Towards the end of this track, a synthesizer creeps in and ends the song on a beautiful, somewhat celestial note. The band’s sound has been described as having a post-punk influence and while that is obvious, the remnants of the sounds of Gang Of Four, The Jesus & The Mary Chain, Wire, The Pop Group, This Heat, Joy Division and New Order creep in among this album’s seven-song landscape. Cited as a “winter” album, Viet Cong also takes on an almost industrial aesthetic.

“March of Progress" starts off with an electronic sounding drum pattern, echoing the distorted rhythms of the album’s opening track before a strong melody creeps in with stereo bouncing guitar arpeggios that sound as if they are being played on unplugged instruments. The song shows glimpses of melodies that until this point seem lost amongst the jagged, iced rhythms. Vocalist/bassist Matt Fiegel pours out an impassioned vocal melody near the song's end in between a propelling bassline with lyrics that state “What is the difference between love and hate/We build the buildings and they’re built to break”. This is somewhat appropriate because with each track found here, Viet Cong literally builds and then deconstructs their sound.

“Bunker Buster” appears here in an array of jagged post-punk guitar riffs that bounce back and forth between your speakers in stereoscope. The sounds on this track could be described as Gang Of Four meets Station To Station-era David Bowie. “Continental Shelf” was the first single released for this album back in October 2014. This menacing track could perhaps be best described by the visuals provided by the music video created for this song. In the video a man in a space suit travels through a building as a silver suitcase looms with mysterious smoke pillowing out of it. 80s styled navigation graphics cut in and out, as the character gets closer, the suitcase reveals itself to be rather like a more extreme version of what was found at the end the film noir Kiss Me Deadly. On the surface, some may see Viet Cong’s self-titled album as just that, another album by a band that delves deep into their influences. But when you look closer the contents of this album prove to be mysterious, alluring, dark and at times explosive.

“Silhouettes” attacks with up-tempo venom, downplayed with darker sounding bass and vocals as the lyrics “There is no connection left in your head” reverberate within the song's instrumentation. “Death” ends the album appropriately, but in epic proportions. This song is fitting in terms of the subject matter found throughout this release, but it is also notable for melding a series of the band’s influences. This song progresses like an automobile moving through a tunnel on grainy film. It combines the band’s post punk, industrial soundscapes and pop influences all in one. The song ends in a series of aggressive attacks, smooth melodies and dissonance.

Viet Cong is different than its predecessor. The seven song EP entitled Cassette released in 2013, displayed elements of the sounds that would be found on Viet Cong, but on a smaller scale. This album also sets Viet Cong apart from their past. Prior to this album, two of Viet Cong’s members (Matt Fiegel, Mike Wallace) were a part of the band known as Woman. After releasing two albums, Woman split in 2010 and the band ended ultimately with the untimely death of guitarist Christopher Reimer in 2012. When looking at the image on the cover of Viet Cong, we see what appears to be scissors cutting a wrapped up bandaged hand. With seven songs, Calgary’s Viet Cong exposes us to something new as the other hand is revealed.

Saturday's Play List:

1. Dee Dee Ramone - Bad Little Go-Go Girl
2. The Jam - Set The House Ablaze
3. The Fall - Mr.Pharmacist
4. Blitzen Trapper - To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High)
5. The New Pornographers - Another Drug Deal Of The Heart
6. Mike Watt & The Missingmen - Up To My Neck In This
7. Manic Street Preachers - Revol
8. Paul Jacobs - Sharp Dress
9. The Missing Lynx With Lloyd J - 13 Reasons
10. Crododiles - Picture My Face
11. James O-L & The Villains - The Old And The New
12. Silent Movie Type - Souvenirs
13. Orphan Choir - Gene Tierney
14. The Lemonheads - Pittsburgh
16. Viet Cong - Silhouettes
17. Women - Locust Valley
18. Chad Vangaalen - Leaning On Bells
19. Viet Cong - Newspaper Spoons
20. The Government - Portrait
21. The Radiators - Contact
22. The Adverts - My Place
23. Sleater-Kinney - No Anthems
24. Iggy & The Stooges - Till The End Of The Night (Detroit Rehearsals Spring 1973)

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for January 24. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

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