Artist of the Week: Times New Viking

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The music world is overflowing with well-groomed, pristinely recorded indie rock acts. On their third album, Times New Viking slices through this current trend with sixteen spontaneous bursts of radiant noise pop. Rip It Off, their Matador debut, recalls an era when indie rock was isolated from the mainstream, and lo-fi was the only available option. Times New Viking’s analog home recordings capture their raw exuberance, and their sugary slacker pop takes on an entirely distinct character when swathed in ear-splitting distortion. At their best, keyboard and guitar lines, wild drumming, and anthemic vocal hooks melt together to create a trance-inducing overdriven bliss. Drummer/vocalist Adam Elliot, keyboardist/vocalist Beth Murphy and guitarist Jared Phillips have inspired a noise pop renaissance in and beyond their hometown of Columbus, Ohio. Now they are bringing these purposefully abrasive recordings to a larger audience.

Times New Viking’s story is somewhat mysterious, with facts and fiction distorted like melodies on overdriven tape. Siltbreeze label owner Tom Lax, who relaunched his label to releases the groups 2005 debut Dig Yourself, claimed that he first heard the band from a cassette he discovered sitting atop a streetcorner shrine. “I dunno who built ’em,” Jared Phillips told me in an email interview. “I guess they liked us. We didn’t make too many of those cassettes, so if I really tried, I could figure it out back to the source, but I’d rather not. Most people credit Mike Rep [a local musician and engineer, who has “lovingly fucked with” the lo-fi recordings of Guided By Voices and Times New Viking]. But what we think happened is that they ducked off the side of the street to partake some ‘wacky stick’ and stumbled upon one.” Adam and Jared played together in a group called The Offending Instruments. “Unfortunately, the other two members of the band passed,” Jared told me. “Beth was actually working in a flower shop (artificials) where we got the black lilies for the funeral and we struck it up. Turned out we went to University together and she liked Fluxus as well. Our previous bandmates weren’t into that stuff.”

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