Dusted Reviews

Times New Viking - Dig Yourself

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Times New Viking

Album: Dig Yourself

Label: Siltbreeze

Review date: Nov. 13, 2005

The supposed story behind this is pure cult fodder - a crude, musty-smelling tape found in a "street shrine" dedicated to Times New Viking caught the attention of T.J. Lax, head of the dormant Siltbreeze label. Further exploration led to more shrines, and Dig Yourself became a document of the best songs cherry-picked from those ceremonial relics, "lovingly fucked with" by Mike "Rep" Hummel (an engineer known primarily for his work with Guided by Voices). Fiction for sure, but the implication of worship is telling.

The truth of the matter is no less compelling. Times New Viking are a trio, formed in Columbus, Ohio from the remains of the Offending Instruments. They passed along some practice jams to Hummel, who in turn worked his magic and played the results for Lax during one of his visits to the Midwest. He felt the need to revive his Siltbreeze imprint to release this debut of buzzing guitars, rickety keys, and paper thin drums.

Drummer and vocalist Adam Elliott calls the band's music "romantic nihilism," an apparent attempt to explain the disparity between the roughshod, obstreperous mess-thetics and the incandescent pop hooks. But on the surface, these eleven cuts are pure bubblegum to those of us fond of rough edges and a distinct lack of studio sheen. While the sonics are indeed scurrilous, it's the lyrics that preach the abnegation of sunny dispositions.

Thematically it's all a little harsh, the words a product of rants against anything and everything, imprecise in their targets but still detonating hard. "Fuck books and their worthless analogies," sings keyboardist Beth Murphy as the riff of "The Statue Pt. I" disintegrates into pure skronk, thus forging an alternate academy fight song. And it's difficult to believe that a track like "Skull Versus Wizard" could be so pointed, but when the rhythmic chug of the guitars fade and the almost-there-but-not-quite vocal harmonies are through, what are we left with? "No job with no future no room to complain just kids with no humor just kids with no name." Ouch. Likewise for "Not High," about the Middle East: "What will people think when the casualties they never shrink? This holy war is really real I still believe in Israel."

Of course, you can read these lyrics as wanton punk idealism - all big ideas stretched out until they are inarticulate, a sense of vagueness setting in as the images become more obtuse. However, they're charming when coupled with analog clatter, and their inability to lock onto a specific mark is fairly emblematic of our particular moment. After all, where does one turn in the presence of so many that need a swift kick in the teeth?

What makes Dig Yourself largely successful is Times New Viking's penchant for asking the big questions while burying any possibility of an answer in rudimentary pop songs that are coated in sheets of grime. These three beg the listener to peel back layer upon layer of reference and hiss, ultimately revealing basic sentiments and urgent, impatient hooks at the core. Bands with a hundred times the recording budget can buy studio time with no problem; sincerity like this, on the other hand, is harder to come by.

And so back to those mythic shrines: I doubt the hordes are lining up to pay their respects to the band just yet, but the eleven songs contained herein are marked with reverence. Think of Dig Yourself as its own shrine, dedicated to the kling klang of classic lo-fi pop experimentalism and punk sentimentality - Xpressway Records back in the day, old school Dead C, GBV prior to the endless name checks, or shades of the Swell Maps mixed with a hundred unheard Nuggets-era singles. Without a doubt, this is one of the most surprising records of the year.

By Michael Crumsho

Other Reviews of Times New Viking

Present the Paisely Reich

Rip it Off

Born Again Revisited

Dancer Equired

Read More

View all articles by Michael Crumsho

Find out more about Siltbreeze

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.