Times New Viking, Crystal Antlers

Times New Viking is another recent example of a band that's realized that it can be pretty fun to fully utilize the expensive studio amenities that its record label is providing.

Following in the recent sonic footprints as bands such as The Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Harlem, TNV have managed to make their most recent effort a higher-quality recording without sacrificing the indie-rock aesthetic or the distinction that made people take notice of them in the first place. Rather than the scuzz offered up on the band's earlier material, the brand of hi-def lo-fi showcased on Dancer Equired, the trio's fifth and newest record (and also their first for Merge after leaving Matador), would've been ideal for the halcyon era of MTV's 120 Minutes.

Don't be mistaken, though: Dancer still isn't a sleekly burnished, wall-of-sound-style product that forgoes the band's standard fuzzing and growling. No, the Columbus, Ohio, outfit still manages to offer a catchy, bouncing melody on the new album as members Jared Phillips, Beth Murphy and Adam Elliot often scream and thrash their way through their funk and haze. The difference is that these former art school students now proffer a clarity that effectively avoids power-washing any of their beloved grit. It's a good thing, indeed, that the "fi" isn't so low anymore.


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