I don’t listen to music in headphones that often, but some kind of meeting nearby has meant the stereo has been switched off this morning, and I’ve been forced to listen to the high-end fuzz attack of Times New Viking up close.

I don’t listen to music in headphones that often, but some kind of meeting nearby has meant the stereo has been switched off this morning, and I’ve been forced to listen to the high-end fuzz attack of Times New Viking up close.



Pretty bracing start to the day, as you might imagine, though it does occur to me that this band’s abrasiveness can be somewhat overplayed. If you’re not completely up to speed on the exciting micro-genre of shitgaze, Ohio’s Times New Viking are one of the scene’s leading ambassadors, along with the somewhat shadily-linked Psychedelic Horsehit.

There are also a bunch of affinities with The Smell bands I keep going on about, especially the mighty No Age – TNV are actually touring the UK from next week with No Age, which should be a good show, if you can manage to miss Los Campesinos, anyway.

Anyway, TNV’s new “Stay Awake” EP is just about the best thing they’ve done, I reckon, not least because it encapsulates their unsteady, strangely cute noisepop. Listened to these artful little indie songs assailed by billowing staticky blasts, you’ll probably be reminded of any number of lo-fi things from the early ‘90s: Guided By Voices, maybe circa “Propeller”, are clearly a big influence (which reminds me of another current band who are on this trip, Sic Alps).

But there’s also something oddly mid-‘80s about the likes of “Sick & Tyred” and “Pagan Eyes”. There’s a fair bit of blog hype around at the moment for a band called The Vivian Girls, who might as well exist solely to remind me that, no matter how hard I tried, I could never really summon up much enthusiasm for The Shop Assistants.

What’s interesting about Times New Viking, though, is that they energetically remind me of the possibilities suggested by The Jesus & Mary Chain back in the day, of a time when endless hack talk of “candy” and “serrated edges” seemed exciting rather than corny. It’s fuzzpop, ostensibly, but much better than most of that stuff actually sounded.

And for something so hip and cutting edge, so self-consciously rackety, it also sounds charmingly quaint, of all things, redolent of a time when an indie band embracing pop meant that they smuggled an old bubblegum melody in under the feedback rather than hired Mark ‘Spike’ Stent or whoever and worked like murder to sell a million.

Just before I plugged into this, someone was playing the new Killers single on their computer. From a distance, through tinny speakers, it sounded weirdly like an electropop Chris De Burgh. In that context, an aggressive lack of commercial ambition, coupled with a bunch of needling tunes like those of Times New Viking, has rarely sounded so appealing.