Cute Band Alert!

Times New Viking's lo-fi nostalgia.

What happens when you put roughly 30 record nerds in a store run by record nerds to watch a band of record nerds? Sadly, not the apocalypse. However, Times New Viking has tapped into something that proves a return to the lo-fi movement is not a bad thing right now. Put down your shiny, hot-pink garage-door opener, and step over here, please.

Saturday afternoon at End of an Ear, keyboardist/singer Beth Murphy and drummer/singer Adam Elliott thrashed away on their respective instruments and traded shouts about war and not wanting to “die in the city alone,” as guitarist Jared Phillips crunched out dirty, amp-busting noise. I’m pretty sure you can get high just listening to them. Murphy’s long, brown hair obscured her face as they wound through the dizzying “Let Your Hair Grow Long” and art-fucked balladry of “Devo & Wine” - these are pop songs made retarded, in a good way. The triois shout out to Jad Fair, “If he’s in the audience,” was a precursor to a semi-intelligible Half Japanese cover that still managed to sound like them.

“It’s a half Half Japanese song,” says Murphy.

The Columbus, Ohio-based trio is credited as the band that woke Siltbreeze from its years-long slumber. The Philly label, owned by Tom Lax and once home to the Dead C, Sebadoh, and Guided by Voices, must have seen felt some psychic twin vibe for TNV, what with their shambolic, almost-pop throwbacks. Their debut, Dig Yourself, and sophomore effort Present the Paisley Reich were released on it, both boombox recordings that sound so even (and especially) if you crank the volume. But live they pull it off: A bare-bones set up, anthemic and narcotic. After seeing them play a shed, a parking lot, and now a record store, Saturday’s remained the best-sounding.

It’s also no surprise Matador snapped them up last fall. They replaced the Clean’s David Kilgour on Yo La Tengo’s current tour, a pretty cushy spot for the trio, but they still have that fresh, DIY scent to them.

“I brought my straightening iron and my record player,” laughs Murphy. “I don’t care. I need my bangs to be flat.”

Love of Diagrams, also a trio but with two girls and a guy, are recent Matador signees, as well. Bass-heavy and dancey circa 1982, LOD muddled through some sound problems, finally toppling out of washed-out noise into heavy groove for their last few songs. Their Bob Weston-recorded self-titled EP captured Mission of Burma’s thunderous bass sound, but live it was unfortunately muted. Still, an opening spot with Ted Leo can’t be bad for them. I doubt Ted Leo owns a Zune.

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