‘It’s post punk, it’s psychedelic, it’s difficult at times – but always well worth your time‘ – Niall McGuirk on Viet Cong‘s self titled debut

Isn’t music just amazing? Here I am in a room on the northside of Dublin listening to music trying to catch up on sounds and songs that have come my way. The ones on my computer are getting harder and harder to keep up with. Downloads go into a folder, filed away at this stage alongside photos. Songs never to be heard with pictures never to be seen, until I have copious amounts of time and they need to some organisation.

Thankfully Viet Cong is one of those actual products. A CD, something to hold, with a better chance of making it to me through my stereo than through my headphones on the computer. And what a small world we live in, all the way from Calgary in Canada, 7 songs that are completely new to my ears make up this collection.

The hardest part of reviewing anything is trying to come up with interesting words to a reader that can adequately reflect the sound of any band. Sometimes with punk rock it can be easier. Bands wanting to change the world one 4-4 beat at a time. Other times it’s poppy and catchy hooks that can be easily (but not always interestingly) explained.

But what happens when it’s a band from Western Canada that have no connection to punk agitators Propagandhi? What happens when said band have no straightforward sound. There’s bits of post punk, bits of sixties psychadelia but nothing to pin it down. Like a country trying to emerge from austerity, it ain’t easy… although it is easy to listen to, cos it’s damn enjoyable.

The 7 songs come in many parts from the initial thumping drum sound of Newspaper Spoons to the culiminating sound of Death which starts off like Talk Talk and nearly finishes with the abandon of any Sonic derived band but then turns a corner after 9 minutes.

The more I listen to this the more I enjoy it. Silhouettes has a riff to kill for straight from post-punk history. Vocals always low in the mix I even hear bits of Jesus And Mary Chain with the feedback removed.

Very little of this album is straightforward. Each track has a number of tangents. Take March Of Progress which kick (drums) off with a pounding beat alongside solitary keyboard notes. It is like the Shaolin Monks are working away whilst the keyboard keeps everything in place. But then your vision of the monks is torn apart by the dreamy pop vocals that lead into a psychadelic groove. In my notes I have it as a 3-in-1, boiled rice, curry sauce and chips kind of song. All very different parts but come together very nicely.

It’s post punk, it’s psychedelic, it’s difficult at times – but always well worth your time. Now to try and explain to my Dad how a band from Calgary that will never make it on to the late late show happen to be on my cd player in my house. This world is small indeed.

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