Viet Cong – Viet Cong
Women were Calgary’s premier alt-noise band, and when guitarist Chris Reimer died mysteriously in 2012 it was a huge blow, breaking up the band at a time when they were a hot topic amongst the indie blog literati. Matt Flegel and drummer Mike Wallace are now part of Viet Cong, another project that fuses noisy art explosions with GBV and Joy Division-esque lo-fi pop sounds. Throughout much of the album they seem on the verge of falling apart, a shuddering makeshift weld-job of Jesus and Mary Chain guitar fuzz, thundering drums a la A Place To Bury Strangers, and the deathly vocals of Flegel. This last is where some of the influences become obvious; Flegel’s voice is strongly reminiscent of both Ian Curtis and Spencer Krug, and the gloomy surroundings only serve to strengthen those comparisons. Viet Cong is an album of what modern bands consider retro post-punk: gloomy, semi-gothy atmospheres with big drums and keyboards that wouldn’t sound quite out of place on a Sisters of Mercy track. Everything comes to head on the final track, “Death”, where the threatened breakdown finally occurs about seven minutes in, a collapse into bashed-out noise-chords after an intense, speaker-rattling build-up. It’s assuredly a strong debut, likely a contender for year-end lists, and absolutely a recommended listen.