I’ve known Ollin’s Scott Rodarte long enough (most of my life, if you insist on bein’ nosy) to know that when he tells me I should pay attention to a band, I should do just that, and this EP doesn’t change that assessment. Viet Ruse is a San Antonio punk band, but in their case the “punk” is more evident in attitude and approach than adherence to the slew of stereotypical templates that most associate with the genre. While they retain enough of their own personality to keep things from sounding like rehash, one can hear a slight but definite Paul Weller influence throughout, right down to the preference for high end, clean channel guitars and their smart use of pop hooks and subtle soulisms. Their lyrics are well above the norm as well—intelligent, thoughtful, and topical without being preachy—one song even mulls the parallels between Dresden, Vietnam, and Iraq. If I had to find something to gripe about, it would be a wish that they fiddled a bit more with song dynamics and that more disparate, diverse musical influences manifested in their music, ’cause a lot of the songs here are similar in tempo and approach. For all I know, though, the tunes they didn’t record could sound like Ravi Shankar being beaten about the head by The Swans. Sure, maturity ultimately comes with time and experience, and, frankly, they’re already working well ahead of the curve here. I’d be much interested to hear how they expand on the sound they’ve already honed.
–jimmy (mjmiranda@[email protected])