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Published on May 2, 2011
The title in 2008 was Rip It Off. It wasn't prophetic -- quite the opposite -- it was a slogan, an instruction as simple as play, record, fuck, and do drugs. If you've been in a band since then (or, correctly, since Dig Yourself appeared in 2005) and this isn't how things go, you're kidding yourself. Back then, were you an inhabitant of any frustrated scene like Columbus, Ohio, USA, re-happenings were circumstance, lo-fi was necessity, and in this gnarly landscape you had to do it yourself. Actually you still do, always have. That's if you want to make a lasting impression. There's middle class poverty out there now, prolonged adolescence in half-way homes. Punk is about a lot of things, but these days kids without internet are punk. Times New Viking have always embraced this code. By avoiding the pratfalls of trends and the impersonality of technology, instead handcrafting their wares, ink stains on their fingertips, they've managed to hang on in a fickle reality. Though forever tethered to the '90s renaissance of bands like Pavement and Guided By Voices (two bands with which Times New Viking have shared extensive tours with in 2010), there's has never been a slacker indifference or aloof whimsy -- it's a sharp, determined, grind. Always an exercise in "romantic nihilism," the three of them, Jared, Beth, and Adam, busy bees out making art, love, friends and enemies. 'Dancer Equired' is a return to the hive, even if the record's creation was out of their usual boundaries. It should be known that for the first time the trio escaped to a studio. Between Columbus Discount Recordings 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 and album that sounds like a mellow night out. Though it abandons the pissy histrionics of the past, it remains loud and brash, with mammoth guitars still piled on, only magnifying the bright beautiful traits of 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. It would be easy to describe the album as a new chapter, but in knowing the forward-thinking, never-settled energies of Times New Viking, this is an entirely new book. Rip it up and start again. There's a new wave in the driving anthem "Fuck Her Tears," a new bohemian in "California Roll," new slogans at every turn. Whether it is to "Try Harder," a see-saw stomp directed towards the band and their audience, or "Don't Go to Liverpool," a song that questions the trash fantastic life on the fringe, the action is usually "go," the refrain being as important and foreboding as it is fleeting and ephemeral. The most telling evolution for Times New Viking comes in the sway or the grown-up measures the band focuses upon with detailed precision in songs like "Want to Exist," and especially Dancer Equired's first single "No Room To Live." In the latter, that impenetrable shell that may have kept average listeners at bay is finally shattered, the fuzz and hiss sits on a bench arms crossed, the elegiac hum of two voices sticks around longer than usual, inviting you inside this time around. No longer the end of all things -- here's to the sweet side. Wumme Wenders Columbus, Ohio November 24th, 2010