The alchemical composition of a band can be a thoroughly interesting subject. Each band dynamic has its own wrinkles; members coming and going has impact in one way or another, fundamentally altering the construct of the music generating entity. Songwriting; instrumental or other performance assignments both in concert and in the studio; personalities; any other dynamic one could imagine within a tight knit group of individuals working towards an outcome: remove one cog and constructs will morph into new shapes.
A few years ago Calgary rock band Women went through some changes, ultimately forever disbanding with the death of guitarist Chris Reimer. (Read this post for more of a primer on Women and what came next, including the start of Viet Cong) Now on their self titled LP and operating in a similar space as Women, Viet Cong author their slant on dark and brooding guitar-driven rock. It is fascinating to ponder how the intervening years and changes in band structures, with adding different musicians to form Viet Cong, has altered what is seemingly a similar band modus operandi. It is an essentially unknowable thing, but one that is endlessly fascinating.
One primary element that has not been lost in the shuffle is that of their environs seeping into the band’s sound. The concept of an album being summery is alive and vibrant. Winter albums are less a thing for obvious reasons, as I know few people who long for arctic temperatures and snow banks to obscure views at every turn. Calgary is a cold, dark place, replete with those aforementioned side effects. Should you not be inundated with snow and dreary skies when listening to this record, it isn’t difficult to place yourself in a similar space as the authors of this wintry record in a dull and forlorn place. Here in Rochester, with temperatures suffering alarmingly from a lack of degrees, no imagination is necessary.
Though I’ve always been something of a sucker for guitars – an element thankfully not lost in the basic structure changes these individuals have endured – something about the tones employed by this collection of individuals particularly speak to me. I’d be content snowed in under several feet of snow with only this record as my companion.