Posts Tagged ‘Viet-Cong’

The renaming of the band formerly known as Viet Cong was, depending on your opinion, either a fuss about nothing or something they dragged their heels over and should’ve sorted out ages ago.  I love the gravity of this record. The vocals are stern and low-register, the bass is urgent and pressing, and the song titles (Anxiety, Degraded, Forbidden) aren’t exactly a laugh-a-minute, but this is fine doom-laden post-punk.

It’s a somber tone with which to begin proceedings but Preoccupations (Formerly known as Viet Cong) are an uncompromising band – from the outset, they’re only interested in realising their own vision, following their own individual path. They do say you only get one chance to make a first impression but here, on their second self-titled album, they’ve somehow rubbished the rules of one of the oldest proverbs around.

Songs generally take a more structured ‘verse and chorus’ approach than on the eponymous Viet Cong album from last year. Saying that, the 11-minute ‘Memory’ is quite an epic, rolling what could be two or three songs into one. It’s synth-driven section somewhere in the middle is a real magic moment on the record, as Matt Flegel’s vocals suddenly turn unexpectedly high-pitched.

The fresh start may have been forced on them, It has been a big year for Preoccupations. Between a name change, and relentless touring, and a new album, the Calgary natives have found ways to remain in the indie rock spotlight. Their last two albums received glowing reviews, while stoking controversy for their previous moniker, Viet Cong. With a new name, the Preoccupations self-titled album is a third attempt at a first impression, and it is receiving outstanding reviews.

Despite the heavier explorations on Preoccupations’ new album, I am surprised by the friendly and easygoing voice on the other side of the phone. Scott “Monty” Munro has been the guitarist-keyboardist for Preoccupations since the band’s formation in 2012. I spoke with him about the new album, the band’s endless gigging, their creative processes, and future endeavors

Preoccupations“Memory” from ‘Preoccupations’ out September 16th, 2016 on Jagjaguwar Records

A dour start it may be but “you can’t feel happy every day”, so the line in “Zodiac” goes, as the pace steps up another notch. Motoric pulses agitate, a wide bass line booms bombastically and guitars robotically chime with millisecond precision.

As a genre, post punk might be decades old but it’s not necessarily a tired one. Every now and again a band comes to attention to reawaken the genre with as much vibrant urgency, as it’s late-70s inception. Post punk still has the potential to make a rare exception and deliver originality because at its essence is a delicate balance of ingredients for forward thinking, alternative music – the positive yin: a no-wave artistry, in constant search of innovative, fresh sounds and the negative yang: a punk rock, rebellious attitude that operates outside of convention.

The balance continues: Preoccupations is not just a record of harsh bangs and explosive moments. It is equally a subtly nuanced album, with considered composition just as important a part of the process. The record ebbs and flows from one movement to the next with thoughtful progression.

The most powerful of progressions comes four tracks in, with a reminiscent twist. If “Memory” serves us correctly, a Joy Division-esque, half-spoken chant gives way to a choked-with-emotion New Orderish wail. It’s Preoccupations’ own rose-tinted, post punk documentary of the developments from 1977-82 in under seven minutes and suddenly we’re uplifted – ears are pricking up, parties are starting up and revelers are coming up. The album thankfully then affords us a well-needed few minutes of soundscape relaxation, to allow us all time to collect our thoughts before picking up the beat once more.

With a conciliatory tone and a shrug of the shoulders, Flagal reminds us that “we’re all gonna die”, as desperate guitar sirens ring out their warnings. With “Stimulation” we are able to reach our peak and finalise this record as a shining example, that great post punk is still a possibility nearly four decades on from its beginings.

Preoccupations’ greatest asset is in its breadth of ability; spontaneous, yet considered; off-kilter, but instinctive; eccentric, although well composed. The artists formerly known as Viet Cong are releasing their first new album under their new name. The also self-titled album features their singlesAnxietyandDegraded.”

“Degraded” from ‘Preoccupations’ out September 16th, 2016 on Jagjaguwar Records


On their debut album, Viet Cong have tapped into the 1970s like no other band. Viet Cong is the logical progression of Roxy Music, Brian Eno, Berlin-era David Bowie, and Krautrock. But it’s more than that. It’s an LP that’s the result of a band answering the following question: “What would happen if the experimental pop of the 1970s somehow infiltrated the sound of power pop and indie rock bands?” Most likely, an unheard of music, replete with energy, hooks, electronics, and prog textures.


Soon we’ll be referring to these four Canadian white guys by a different name, so let’s focus on the music. It’s fantastic music: raw and scraping, delivered with a brute-force primitivism that makes it feel less like the work of men than hyper-intelligent beasts who discovered fire and turned it into post-punk. But this band’s appeal is not all about visceral impact; their self-titled debut album boasts rich harmonic density, haunting vocals, and high-register guitar parts with a neon glint. In a world where Wolf Parade broke up and the once-mighty Interpol have became a shadow of a parody, we needed a new band like this.


With an impressive self-titled album out on Jagjaguwar later this month, Calgary outfit Viet Cong rose from the ashes of cult favourites Women. Post punk but never too retro, their sound slots in perfectly alongside the likes of ‘Pink Flag’-era Wire and early Cure.

Photo: Press

KEXP radio  presents Viet Cong performing live in the KEXP studio. Recorded March 3, 2015.

Bunker Buster



This week’s World Cafe: Next artist, Calgary’s Viet Cong, released its full-length debut last week. It’s not so much a dark record as a harsh one: This is a guitar-intensive rock band whose songs stretch out with some sturm and drang, while still finding ways to get under your skin. Hear two songs from Viet Cong.


Viet Cong, from Canada’s less-celebrated center Calgary, sold out at the Union Pool show long before the not-at-all-catastrophic snowstorm hit New York City this week. Viet Cong had the place well past capacity. Half-composed of former members of the band Women,  Viet Cong continues that band’s art-rock mission, if not expands it. What makes the band’s live show flat-out better than their very-well-regarded debut LP is simply that watching them put this music together gives you a clearer sense of how much is going on. The interplay between guitarists isn’t simply your usual rhythm/lead dichotomy; guitarists Scott Munro and Daniel Christiansen’s instruments are almost in opposition to each other at points, at others answering each other note-for-note. Both guitarists double up on keys as well, but don’t think vocalist/bassist Matt Flegel isn’t producing himself. Granted, some of the members have history together, but this is still an incredibly tight unit for a band with only the “Cassette EP” and now the new album to their credit.

The band’s sound mimics the bleak landscape of their hometown at times; the show, and the album closed with a ten-plus minute dirge named “Death”.  But there’s also humor running through Matt Flegel’s lyrics, when you can make them out, and the Cassette songs, especially, have a more straightforward appeal. Ultimately, though, what comes across most about this band is just how effing good they are. The complexity of their work may suggest that this is music for musicians, but what Viet Cong do so well is make that complex music relatable, even fun, to listen to. This show will set a high bar for the rest of 2015, in the best possible way.


Viet Cong feature two ex-members (bassist Matthew Flegel and drummer Michael Wallace) of Calgary band Women, who were a difficult listen indeed. Viet Cong offer more immediate pleasures, if you’re a fan of dark and dramatic, postpunk, goth-ish rock such as Joy Division, the Cure and even Psychedelic Furs. They’re very early 80s, not in the new romantic sense, but in the sense of bands indulging their miserabilist sides before the Smiths added humour to the mix. Their first EP Cassette came out on Mexican Summer but have since signed to Jagjaguwar, with an album . Expect it to include Silhouettes, which has an Interpol-like urgency to it, Continental Shelf, on which they channel the wild spirit of the Doors, and Bunker Buster, a hypnotic groove with jagged guitars slashing across the rhythm’s surface. And you can dance to it

Out on January 19th  via Jagjaguwar Records

The former members of the group Women reunite after the disparaging death of old member and friend Christopher Reimer. Viet Cong have built a fan base on wily post-punk attitude mixed with the blessed talent of storytelling. Managing to combine a noise-punk ethos with craftsmanship is no mean feat. Pounding and poetic in equal measure this is a future cult classic and needs to be treated as such.


Later this month, Calgary band Viet Cong (featuring ex-members of Women) will release their self-titled debut LP, a follow up to last year’s Cassette” EP. Previously, we heard the first single, “Continental Shelf”, and today they’re sharing a new song, “Silhouettes”.  Viet Cong the album  is out January 20 on Jagjaguwar.Records.

Viet Cong is a Canadian indie rock band formed in Calgary, Alberta in 2012. The group consists of two ex-members of the rock band Women, vocalist/bassist Matt Flegel and drummer Mike Wallace, as well as guitarists Scott Munro and Daniel Christiansen. The group’s musical style has been described as “labyrinthine post-punk.”



Viet Cong – Cassette: A Calgary quartet made up of former Women band mates Matt Flegel and Mike Wallace, as well as guitarists Monty Munro and Danny Christiansen, Viet Cong exude shadows of their former incarnation – a certain spooky, claustrophobic, gloominess – but the band has also expanded into new sonic territories. Cassette kicks off in full-force, with the confident and wiry “Throw It Away.” (Echoes of Television’s self-assured debut). Waves of lo-fi psychedelic pop permeate throughout this record, but “Structureless Design” locks into in industrial groove and a propulsive drum-led séance. Shapeless, yes, but this band is not without direction or focus. Look out for their Jagjaguwar debut next year.