Music

Viva K: Viva K

Jason MacNeil

Electro-dance-rock outfit make the most of a record that recalls Blondie, some art rock units and a new band with the initials FF. No, not the Foo Fighters...


Viva K

Viva K

Label: Stinky
US Release Date: 2005-09-06
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon affiliate
Amazon
iTunes

This quartet was reared on some other great bands, but it's lead singer Ween Callas' quirky screechy-meets-singing delivery that packs the oomph into the already neo-disco backbeat on "Guru". Touchstones like Gang of Four and Blondie would be obvious, but there are some Middle Eastern touches in the tune that also resemble Bjork -- if she was fronting the Banshees instead of Siouxsie. Evan Haros works this Middle Eastern magic on sitar, as well as adding some electronics while guitarists Ravi Dhar and Skoda flesh out the number. Fans of Metric or Canada's lesser-known Controller.Controller would lap up this song in a minute. The lone hindrance to the track might be the brief lull near the homestretch before the guitars kick into high gear yet again. A far better attempt reaches fruition during "Dekoder", as Callas sounds like she's singing in a phone booth at the bottom of a gigantic tin can. It's distant but works quite nicely, especially leading into the second verse. It then builds again on the guitars to create a thick, quasi-psychedelic melody the type of which one would be hard pressed to grow tired.

A lot of people might see Viva K as a rather ragged and somewhat unpolished Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but that is rarely a bad thing. They aren't afraid to push the envelope with each ditty, especially "No Better Time". Starting as if they're going to break out into Rush's "Tom Sawyer", the band then opt for a funky groove while Callas sings about saying too much. It's quite strong, with little in the way of sonic fat around it. Viva K set the groundwork for "Does It Matter?" with a slight industrial blueprint that instantly recalls "Closer" by Nine Inch Nails. And as fine as the electronic aspect is here, it's the deep bassline that sets things off in the right direction. But as strong and as focused as "Does It Matter?" is, you get the sense that "We Are Safe" didn't go through such an editing or tightening process. Psychedelic textures are all over this windswept rocker, Callas does an adequate vocal, nothing more and nothing less, and the result is something surprisingly listless and limp. It might work at the album's end but not near the heart or core of the record.

The quartet atone for such sins, however, on the lovely garage-ish yet danceable jewel "Light Light Light", a distant cousin of Primal Scream's "Shoot Speed Kill Light". Callas goes into a cute and cuddly, quasi-Gwen Stefani-meets-Karen O mode early and often. The drumbeat is also another asset, bringing to mind Blondie's Clem Burke minus the snazzy attire and thin black leather tie. But there is another clunker, "Splendour", that recalls something Duran Duran might have done circa "The Reflex". Part tribal but part disco, the effort really doesn't blossom the way it should, instead content to stick to the same melody from top to bottom. The repetition of "No, no, no", for those somewhat long in the tooth, could also conjure up images of a youthful Sinead O'Connor wailing away on "Mandinka".

The biggest plus to this disc is that you know that, for the most part, they can sustain one solid track after another, even if some people won't be able to find time for or even stomach the electro-pop of "Porch Raga", which is neither country or raga for that matter. It has its moments, but probably won't be worth repeating or replaying. Viva K hit pay dirt for the fifth or sixth time on the catchy, radio-friendly, No Doubt-ish "Love Everybody" as the electronics hover over the tight rhythm section.

7

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

3 Pairs of Boots Celebrate Wandering on "Everywhere I Go" (premiere)

3 Pairs of Boots are releasing Long Rider in January 2021. The record demonstrates the pair's unmistakable chemistry and honing of their Americana-driven sound, as evidenced by the single, "Everywhere I Go".

Books

'World War 3 Illustrated #51: The World We Are Fighting For'

World War 3 Illustrated #51 displays an eclectic range of artists united in their call to save democracy from rising fascism.

Music

Tiphanie Doucet's "You and I" Is an Exercise in Pastoral Poignancy (premiere)

French singer-songwriter Tiphanie Doucet gives a glimpse of her upcoming EP, Painted Blue, via the sublimely sentimental ode, "You and I".

Music

PM Picks Playlist 3: WEIRDO, Psychobuildings, Lili Pistorius

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of WEIRDO, Brooklyn chillwavers Psychobuildings, the clever alt-pop of Lili Pistorius, visceral post-punk from Sapphire Blues, Team Solo's ska-pop confection, and dubby beats from Ink Project.

By the Book

The Story of Life in 10 1/2 Species (excerpt)

If an alien visitor were to collect ten souvenir life forms to represent life on earth, which would they be? This excerpt of Marianne Taylor's The Story of Life in 10 and a Half Species explores in text and photos the tiny but powerful earthling, the virus.

Marianne Taylor
Film

Exploitation Shenanigans 'Test Tube Babies' and 'Guilty Parents' Contend with the Aftermath

As with so many of these movies about daughters who go astray, Test Tube Babies blames the uptight mothers who never told them about S-E-X. Meanwhile, Guilty Parents exploits poor impulse control and chorus girls showing their underwear.

Music

Deftones Pull a Late-Career Rabbit Out of a Hat with 'Ohms'

Twenty years removed from Deftones' debut album, the iconic alt-metal outfit gel more than ever and discover their poise on Ohms.

Music

Arcade Fire's Will Butler Personalizes History on 'Generations'

Arcade Fire's Will Butler creates bouncy, infectious rhythms and covers them with socially responsible, cerebral lyrics about American life past and present on Generations.

Music

Thelonious Monk's Recently Unearthed 'Palo Alto' Is a Stellar Posthumous Live Set

With a backstory as exhilarating as the music itself, a Thelonious Monk concert recorded at a California high school in 1968 is a rare treat for jazz fans.

Music

Jonnine's 'Blue Hills' Is an Intimate Collection of Half-Awake Pop Songs

What sets experimental pop's Jonnine apart on Blue Hills is her attention to detail, her poetic lyricism, and the indelibly personal touch her sound bears.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Renegade Connection's Gary Asquith Indulges in Creative Tension

From Renegade Soundwave to Renegade Connection, electronic legend Gary Asquith talks about how he continues to produce infectiously innovative music.

Music

A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.

Books

Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.

Film

'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.

Music

Bright Eyes' 'Down in the Weeds' Is a Return to Form and a Statement of Hope

Bright Eyes may not technically be emo, but they are transcendently expressive, beatifically melancholic. Down in the Weeds is just the statement of grounding that we need as a respite from the churning chaos around us.

Film

Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.