SXSW Band Feature: Times New Viking

AUSTIN, Texas – At the Times New Viking showcase at South by Southwest, the floor was shaking. It was literally shaking. And it wasn’t on solid ground, either. The show took place on the over-crowed upper floor of an Austin bar, and I legitimately started worrying about the stability of the beam supports that were keeping us up. I couldn’t help but think this must be hype in its physical form: eminently excited, but shaky and with little foundation for most of its musings.

Since the release of their third album “Rip It Off,” (Matador records) it seems Times New Viking have attracted the attention of nearly every music blogger, after receiving the affirmation of a “Best New Music” pick by Pitchforkmedia.com. The lo-fi indie rock band writes impossibly catchy pop songs beneath heavy layers of noise.

“Rip It Off” is their first release on Matador Records, a hugely influential indie label. So while Times New Viking surely had the resources to a make a cleaner record than they had in the past – one undoubtedly more accessible – the band stuck to a lo-fi aesthetic. Drummer Adam Elliott explained in an interview with The Hatchet that they looked for “happy accidents” that would add character to their recording. They then accentuated it on the record. While sometimes frustrating, the sound gives their music another layer to love and chew through before getting to the heart of their pop. It is this Do-It-Yourself feel of their music that is certainly one of its biggest attractions.

Out of Columbus, Ohio, these former art school students form a part of the Ohioan tradition for art-punk, ranging from Pere Ubu and Devo to Guided by Voices. The Ohio music scene may not seem like a particularly fertile ground for young bands, but Elliott assures it is. As good as Times New Viking is, the Ohio scene may yet have many other bands to boast.

Few bands played SXSW with such exuberance, and few crowds seemed as excited to see the band on stage before them. Times New Viking – both on record and on stage – not only offer a joyous blast of music, but one well worth its weight in big, catchy hooks.

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