Friday, July 13, 2012

The Clean / Times New Viking Tour

The arrival of Timmy Hefner's 540 Records package to the house served as the necessary perspective inducing delivery to give TNV's tour with The Clean a deserving re-cap. As increasingly apparent by Hefner's Chaos in Tejas line-up, 504 records is refreshingly unfettered by any genre solidarity. The package included an archived post-punk recording from 1981 (The Kick's "The Secret"), a Diplo 7" co-released with Mad Decent, a pressing of Axeman's Arrive from Darkest Heavy Records, and the first vinyl pressing of The Clean's Odditties - a collection of songs that introduced Times New Viking to the band, on CD format, aught-3. 

I had been pleased to see this double album on the merch table at The Great Scott in Boston on the first night of our tour. In turn, this may have provided some extra encouragement as Andy and I commenced to sell The Clean's merchandise; they were wrapping up their set and a daunting amount of fans weighed heavy on their side of the table. We sold a decent amount of LPs and t-shirts, fielded inquiries on paintings, and secured a verbal agreement to a record. Whether because they only had a hundred or I never followed through, by the end of our short week on tour, it was only a 1" x 2" painting of the sea, a gratuity from Hamish to Andy, that made it back home to Memphis. 

Enter 504 Records, a few weeks after we arrived home. Now I had figured the Chaos in Tejas invitation had served as the impetus for The Clean to get over to the states in the first place, but I had not realized that also came tied with a vinyl release. Odditties contains songs like "Getting Older" and "Hold Onto the Rail" that placed The Clean in step with Guided By Voices and The Fall as important to TNV. Having already toured with GBV and not quite possessing the necessary dose of masochism needed to dream of touring with The Fall, these actions set in motion by Hefner/504/Chaos in Tejas can be seen as a kind of inadvertent Make A Wish Foundation / economic stimulator for the TNV franchise. 

Here is a review of the New York show, by fellow Columbus native Stephen Slaybaugh, as posted on Agit Reader : 

The Clean
Le Poisson Rouge, New York, June 5
by Stephen Slaybaugh

The dangers for any band that once made its name on the kinetic energy of youthful exuberance is that the onslaught of accumulated years will sap that essential essence like some pet leach of Father Time. Tis better to burn out than to fade away, of course, but until that comes to pass no one wants to get caught with a case of rock & roll impotence.

The Clean began in New Zealand in the late ’70s and have gone through intermittent spurts of activity, disbanding only to reunite once again. In the 21st century, the trio of middle-aged men has seemingly settled into a permanent flux, with records coming down the pipeline when the band fancies and short tours of the States made in an equally sporadic fashion. Indeed, there was no rhyme or reason to the latest handful of American dates—no new album or greatest hits package to promote.

Openers Times New Viking, who’ve played the bulk of The Clean’s recent US dates, similarly wasn’t onboard for promotional obligations, but simply because they’re friendly with their heroes. While the Columbus trio (which includes new Agit writer Elizabeth Murphy), was the younger portion of this equation, with five albums and lots of touring, they too have obviously grown up a lot since I first laid ears on the band eight years ago. Still, it seemed as if the trio had aged more than the year that had passed since I last saw them. There was a cohesion and force that pervaded the entire set, and aside from one instance when guitarist Jared Phillips needed to tune his instrument, they ripped into it with a rejuvenated sense of purpose. Mainstays like “Devo and Wine” and “Love Your Daughters” kept a taut balance of frenzy and control, with Phillips’ guitar leading the charge. They saved the best for last, though, when they trotted out “Lion & Oil,” one of the first songs TNV ever put to tape. While still possessing all the energy of youth, the song had morphed into something more accomplished and self-possessed, in a way representational of the band’s own transformation.

The Clean reared their heads soon after, beginning with “Point That Thing Somewhere Else.” The track, which comes from 1982’s Boodle Boodle Boodle EP, was indicative of the direction the night was headed. With their most recent album, Mister Pop, several years behind them, the Kiwi three-piece stuck to the body of songs that first earned them their reputation for great pop jangle. The years could be seen on their faces, but not in the music they created, and subsequent cuts like “Secret Place,” which featured bassist Robert Scott’s plaintive vocals, and “Someone,” on which drummer Hamish Kilgour took the lead, were bursting at the seams with energy. They also ventured into The Great Unwashed’s “Born in the Wrong Time,” a track from The Clean’s downtime in the ’80s. Other highlights included runs through “Drawing to a Hole” and “Anything Could Happen,” on which guitarist David Kilgour delivered Cartesian lines over his own propulsive licks. They finished out the evening with “Tally Ho” and “Oddity,” both of which were full of the kind of freneticism they possessed when first cut to wax. My only complaint was the same as when The Clean came to promote Mister Pop in 2010, that their set was too short. It seems a waste to travel halfway around the world (well, at least two of the three of them did), only to play for an hour and neglect such a large portion of their songbook. But then with age comes wisdom, so maybe they know better than I.