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Viet Cong: Cassette EP

83bbf8abViet Cong — Cassette

Release Date (s): July 8
Rating: 4.5/5
Spec Recs: “Unconscious Melody,” “Static Wall,” “Select Your Drone”
In one word: Inventive

The EP Cassette from new Calgary-based band Viet Cong explores a range of musical styles and sounds and shows that the band is capable of everything. The album is aptly named, as it feels as if it exists in two halves, as albums did when produced on vinyl or cassette. In many cases, bands would ignore the need for the album to be turned over, causing this act of changing the album side to become dead time. In special cases though, if a band had the right vision, they could utilize that gap as a strength, forcing the act of flipping the album to be part of the listening experience, and Viet Cong has shown that this is the kind of album it would produce, given those same constraints.

The first half of the album has radio-friendly pop tracks for fans that want something to dance to and hear in their car while fantasizing they are alive in the late ’60s, on their way to the latest psychedelic concert and Vietnam War protest headlined by breakout chart-topper Viet Cong. The second half delves into strange, experimental music territory. It’s just weird enough for the people who want to find the music on their own and play it as loud as possible while locked in a dark room, working on whatever important task it is that occupies their time.

The first few songs on the album display an amazing range of talent and influence. Tracks like “Throw it Away” and “Unconscious Melody” sound like The Talking Heads lead by David Bowie in an attempt to make it big in the late ’60s. The amazing pop sound, mixed with some of the experiments of the ’80s sound, and even a morose drone in the chorus of the latter track, sound like early Modest Mouse. This continues into “Oxygen Feed,” which features a slow, rhythmic guitar twang characteristic of ’60s surf rock and “Static Wall,” which embraces a more psychedelic feel that sounds like a track off of MGMT’s first studio album.

The next three songs are where the album takes an interesting turn. If the early tracks had been a jump back to the ’60s, then these would be a leap forward to the late ’80s and early ’90s. Starting with “Structureless Design,” the band enters into a more experimental vibe that feels like a previously unreleased Lou Reed track. The next two tracks, “Dark Entries” and “Select Your Drone,” take on the gritty ’90’s rock sounds captured by Sonic Youth, bringing an intense cerebral rock experience to the listener. The latter, being the final track on the album, also functions as a perfect microcosm of the rest of Cassette, starting with an invitingly hypnotic psychedelic section and calmly sung lyrics with slow musical tones, then descending into a great deluge of sound, complete with industrial noises and almost guttural sounds.

This album shows that Viet Cong is certainly a band to watch out for, as they are not only capable of producing a variety of musical styles, but capable of doing so very well.

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