Their musical DNA doesn't seem to be far from the last Women record. Gnarled guitars wail against clanging drums and project a sound of familiar post-punk with atmospheric textures that seem to recall early Deerhunter or recent Grooms albums. With a great debut EP (last year's "Cassette") under their belts, Viet Cong dropped by New York for two sold out record release shows.
Any time a band breaks up, the projects that follow will always be subject to (perhaps unfair) comparison. For Canada's Women, their break up was messy and heartbreaking. Two years after the band went on hiatus, guitarist Christopher Reimer passed away in his sleep. From the ashes of tragedy rose Viet Cong and while it'd be easy to draw a Joy Division / New Order comparison, the fate of Viet Cong seems to be speaking on their own found success. Their first proper album, Viet Cong, has helped kick-start a year of new music and their live set will only propel their hype. On stage, the band explodes with powerful raw energy. Their songs slowly build as grooves are wound tight, coiling with a metallic twang, before being released with shattering force. There's a stong This Heat vibe mixed with some synths and krauty rhythms. "Continental Shelf", "Silhouettes", and "Bunker Buster" (the breakdown on this song in particular really got things shaking) were high marks on an evening that was filled with many incredible moments. Their guitars ripped with industrial clamor as if years of rust and grime were being beaten out of the songs and each track was delivered with mighty force. Their propulsive melodies are complex and twisting, never once following an expected pattern and each song was on the edge, making sharp turns at a moments notice as the band shined with supreme precision. "We decided to test out some new material in front of a sold out Merc. Lounge" exclaimed lead singer Matt Flegel after the band unleashed a brand new number. Their humor is something that gets lost in their songs, but their banter unveiled a different side of the band. To cap off the night, the band blasted their way through an epic sprawling rendition of "Death" that attacked their sonic texture but electrified the crowd. Often January releases get lost in the shuffle as the year progresses, but if this band can keep up this momentum they will be truly difficult to forget.