Like a healthy tan or acting natural, Ohio trio Times New Viking is an oxymoron. The group is abrasive yet warm, chaotic but crisp, sweet and sour. It's Modern Lovers consulting Swell Maps while pursued by Dinosaur Jr. TNV couch innocent, straightforward melody within ragged structures sturdy as a condemned building threatening to collapse under the weight of overdriven distortion and redlining boy/girl vocals. Its roaring, lo-fi mess disguises peculiarly tuneful pop delivered with punk fervor. Though the band's second Matador release (and fourth overall) Born Again Revisited tidies and streamlines things a bit, the changes are cosmetic, increasing the tightness and articulation without diminishing the inviting, rafter-rattling throb.
While headliners Yo La Tengo are capable of similarly thunderous racket (witness Fuckbook, last spring's grimy garage-punk covers album under the moniker Condo Fucks), the act has spent the last quarter-century diversifying its approach. What began as an exploration into the Velvet Underground's tender and riotous aspects (see "Pale Blue Eyes" and "Venus in Furs" respectively), now embraces a wide variety of touchstones, including laconic, shimmering dream-pop, swaggering indie crunch, explosive garage-psych and lilting indie pop. Led by ex-rock critic Ira Kaplan, the group has cultivated an encyclopedic knowledge of moves and the skills to execute any of them.