[8 July 2014]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
Cassette was originally just a tour-only release for Viet Cong, the new project from former Women members Matt Flegel and Michael Wallace with Scott Munro and Daniel Christiansen. Thankfully, Mexican Summer is making this release available to the public, and it’s a solid and generous introduction to an exciting new act. It’s an album as capable of a gentle hum as it is a choopy buzz. “Oxygen Feed” rattles along on stomping drums and piercing, angular guitar work, yet the vocals are a sweet salve over any musical wounds. Of course, if the singing is resonant and rich there, it can also bellow on “Throw It Away” or turn to an eccentric whisper on “Static Wall”. The seven songs here share elements—off-kilter hooks, scraped out production, spacious, hole-filled rhythms—but they each offer a different variation on those parts. Most thrilling is the insistent, epic closer “Select Your Drone”. The vocals bellow in the distance, as guitar, bass, and drum work together to build a slow but percussive tension. The song eventually erupts into art-rock chaos, but even if you hear the shift coming, its bay-at-the-moon, wild-eyed energy is still bracing. Viet Cong is not interested in treading ground made by the member’s old projects. This is a lively new turn for all the players, and Cassette both promises future growth from the band and delivers a hear-and-now exciting set of tunes.