Viet Cong, S/T (1/20/15, Jagjaguwar)
Fantastic, debut long-player from Calgary, Alberta’s own Viet Cong, a group featuring former members of Women.
Having previously made some noise with the Cassette ep in 2014, the full length feels a much different beast, altogether. Where Cassette sounded a bit like Television if they recorded on Stiff Records, Viet Cong – having been saddled in many places with the now de rigueur ‘post-punk’ tag, which (while at least partially accurate) seems reductive – sees the band running through a whole host of influences and sounds: here Joy Division or (if you prefer) early New Order, there shards of (um) Television, Wire, The Fall, Killing Joke, kraut rock, new wave and danceable industrial, totally not danceable No Wave, here and there pastoral psychedelia and Syd Barrett vibes; hell, the breakdown around the 7:00 mark of epic closer “Death” sounds almost metal. Singer/bassist Matt Flegel’s vocals are placed in the middle of the mix, themselves a melange of Berlin-era Bowie, Fad Gadget, a less croony Ian McCulloch or Peter Murphy, even the singer from Longwave.
If this sounds like the aural equivalent of a Jackson Pollock splash and drip painting well, maybe it is; however, just like Pollock, Viet Cong have a purpose and a design behind what might otherwise be a total shitshow car crash of styles and tastes. The band’s ability to slither in and around their collected influences throughout (indeed, through the course of each track) is truly impressive – this is a tight sounding unit and, for all the sonic touchstones on display here, they manage to carve out something unique. Highly recommended.
Visit the band here and catch them on tour if you are fortunate enough to reside in a city on the itinerary (I, sadly, am not).
Highlights include: Bunker Buster, Continental Shelf, Death.