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USA Out of Vietnam — Crashing Diseases and Incurable Airplanes

USA Out of Vietnam — Crashing Diseases and Incurable Airplanes (May 7, 2014)

CAN Flag USA Out of Vietnam — Crashing Diseases and Incurable Airplanes
Ξ   USA Out of Vietnam: Light and dark in harmony
Montreal quintet melds drones, distortion and distended song structures with its own brand of pop music
Location: Montréal, Québec, Canada
Album release: May 7, 2014
Record Label: Aurora Borealis / New Damage Records
Duration:     59:41
01 Archangel     10:14
02 You Are a Comet, You Are On Fire     7:47
03 Asphodel I 1322     14:19
04 Leg of Lamb     13:09
05 Tonight, the Dead Walk     14:12
Ξ  El Tigre, Fogman, Jordan Thomas Brown III, Son of Fogman, Blankie
BY ANDREW HANNAH, 30 APRIL 2014, 13:30 BST, SCORE: 7.5/10
While it’s great to hear a band that are fairly unclassifiable when it comes to neat genre pigeonholing, it does sometimes make my job as a writer a little more difficult when it comes to trying to describe to you what an artist sounds like. What it feels like and how it moves you is generally fine, as those are individual experiences for each listener — and I’m not here to tell you how to feel.
Ξ  ​Shadowy Canadian four-piece USA Out Of Vietnam are one such band. Their bio helpfully points out that they’ve shared stages with Mogwai, Swervedriver and Oneida so you might already be forming some ideas in your head of the music Fogman, Son of Fogman, El Tigre and Jordan Thomas Brown III (nice names, huh?) has created on their debut full-length Crashing Diseases and Incurable Airplanes. Add to that the info that the record was recorded at Montreal’s Hotel 2 Tango (used by Godspeed You! Black Emperor) and features fifteen guest musicians including the sweetly angelic voice of fellow Canuck Patrick Watson then it’s fair to say this is an epic affair. An hour long, five tracks…yep, epic is a decent descriptor.
Ξ  So on opening track “Archangel” we hear riffs move at a glacial pace while vocodered vocals nudge at its edges shuffling the track on bit by bit before the track opens up into a glorious extended bridge, guitars sounding like stars exploding around you while a choir of angels heralds the end of the world in looped harmonies. “You Are A Comet, You Are On Fire” meanwhile goes straight for the jugular with heads-down metal chords, occasionally falling away to let you catch your breath, replaced by meandering shoegaze solos and then returning heavier and louder than before, broken by a spoken word sample and then repaired by a triumphant brass section.
Ξ  Just when you think you know where USA Out of Vietnam are heading — stellar post rock at this point — “Asphodel 1322” lurches in with sludge metal brutality but with an added air of positivity: think Deafheaven if George Clarke had a slightly sunnier disposition. The track is lifted by Watson’s vocal contribution as he’s looped and layered to sound suitably heavenly and whoever asked him to contribute deserves a pat on the back. “Leg of Lamb” is slightly disappointing post rock by numbers and that’s a touch annoying as it lasts for about thirteen minutes but “Tonight the Dead Walk” saves things from ending on a sour note via a barrage of thunderous drums and thrash moves, and some trippy, psychedelic intervals just in case you think that sounds a little run-of-the-mill.
Ξ  It’s the surprising moments that makes Crashing Diseases and Incurable Airplanes better than your average post rock/metal record. Rather than making everything a muddled mess, the decision taken by USA Out of Vietnam to have such an array of guest musicians is what sets it apart from the routine. Having a gorgeous looped choir, a pedal-messing psych or shoegaze instrumental passage, using heavy brass or just going out-and-out metal is why the unclassifiable is great. If the band continues to avoid labelling, there could be plenty more fun like this to be had.
© 2014 The Line Of Best Fit. : http://www.thelineofbestfit.com/
Bandcamp: http://usaoutofvietnam.bandcamp.com/album/crashing-diseases-and-incurable-airplanes
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/usaoutofvietnam
Press: lauren@rarelyunable.com
Agent: usaoutofvietnam@gmail.com
Ξ  USA Out Of Vietnam have paired with Aurora Borealis in Europe, Japan and UK and New Damage for North America and Austrailia to release their auspicious debut Crashing Diseases and Incurable Airplanes.
Ξ  Their musical influences are both transparent and widespread, and include black metal, doom, drone, minimalist composition, sludge, noise, post rock, shoe-gaze, dream pop, nineties psychedelia and classic seventies radio dial pop. Particularly transparent is this love of pop music, dense seventies-style production, and harmonized vocals that swerves around hairpin turns. If you really wanted to try to harness this slippery eel you could say that the band’s sound is as equally informed by the stacked production and pop savvy of Jeff Lynne’s E.L.O. as it is by the crushing heavy drones of Sunn O)))).
Ξ  On their debut, USA Out of Vietnam proudly boast of their love of lush harmony and infectious melody but also like to push past the 3 minute traditional pop format with 10 minute epics — psychedelic, in the truest sense of the word.
With over 15 guest musicians appearing on Crashing Diseases and Incurable Airplanes (including Montreal singer/songwriter Patrick Watson who contributes treated vocal loops on two songs here), their debut is vast in it's scope, and abundant with rich sounds. Brass sections elbow up to detuned and distorted Marshall stacked guitars, spoken word sections appear in unlikely spaces, vocoder vocals appear within breaths of angelic choir vocals, vintage synth and sampled noises hover over lush string sections while a piano beds down with crushing Swans-style pummeling. The lyrics across the album mirror the sound that surrounds them, with themes grasping towards redemption that search for a sliver of light hiding in the darkness.
Crashing Diseases and Incurable Airplanes slowly reels the listener in as opposed to attacking them with ballast and decibels. USA Out of Vietnam have created an enveloping and vivid piece of work — but flush that incense and peppermint flotsam out of your head because USA Out of Vietnam insist that this trip is for real.
“USA Out Of Vietnam is a four-piece Montreal band that doesn't fit neatly into any one specific genre. They combine elements of psych pop, prog rock, and drone pop so effortlessly that the resulting music is equal parts brilliant and confounding. The five track album is a heavy journey through various experiments with sound, making it a truly original project.” — Noisey.com
Ξ  USA Out of Vietnam's debut Crashing Diseases and Incurable Airplanes will be released on gatefold double vinyl/CD/digital on May 7th, 2014 on UK label Aurora Borealis within the UK, Japan and Europe. The North American and Austrailian release of the record on vinyl, CD and digital will be handled by New Damage Records with a street date of June 24th.
For promotional requests in the U.S. please contact
For promotional requests in the UK and Europe please contact lauren@rarelyunable.com
For Canadian promotional requests please contact Jen@listenharder.com
Ξ  USA Out Of Vietnam have shared stages with Mogwai, Swervedriver, Suuns, Scratch Acid, Loop, Handsome Furs, Oneida, Ty Segal, Locrian and more.
USA Out of Vietnam: Light and dark in harmony
Montreal quintet melds drones, distortion and distended song structures with its own brand of pop music
Ξ  When guitarist/vocalist/sarcasm machine Jonathan Cummins describes USA Out of Vietnam as a pop band, it prompts a laugh. Then you look at his face and think: Even Cummins can’t be this deadpan.
Ξ  “Maybe my perspective’s fucked,” said the longtime torchbearer for megaton heaviness. “We’re sitting here doing four-part harmonies in rehearsal and I’m like, ‘Wicked! We’ll be the new Arcade Fire!’ ”
Cummins made the pop-band pronouncement after the Montreal quintet stood before The Gazette’s cameras and churned through the punishing Tonight, the Dead Walk, from their about-to-be-re-released debut, Crashing Diseases and Incurable Airplanes. The 14-minute colossus’s drones, distortion and percussive thunder didn’t rupture an unshakable melodic foundation, and two thoughts came to mind: These players masterfully balance light and dark, and there isn’t a box big enough to contain them.
“The one thing that keeps coming up in all the reviews I see is, ‘I don’t know how to classify this band. They don’t have a genre,’ ” drummer Eric Cohen said. “I guess it’s a nice thing, because I thought everyone would just call us a post-rock band or a doom band. If people can’t define you, in our case at least, I think that’s a good sign.”
Cummins proposed a number of definitions with varying degrees of seriousness: “Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours stretched out … a heavy Besnard Lakes.” Their bio pitches an absurd combination of ELO and transcendental drone-metal duo Sunn O))). “People jumped on that bait like crazy,” Cummins said. “But there is some truth to that. We do those Sunn O))) things, but if we stop there, then we’re just another drone band, which I don’t really want to do. Honestly, we all do think of ourselves as a pop band.”
It’s obvious which role Cummins, a veteran of the local music scene, sees himself occupying in the “Crosby, Stills, Nash and Old” harmonies he shares with guitarist Brendan Drouillard, bassist/keyboardist Jordan Brown and keyboardist Merida Anderson. Conjuring a choir standing in the face of a storm, the group vocals haven’t always been such a defining characteristic of USA Out of Vietnam, but the band did start as a way for Cummins to make music as group therapy.
Ξ  “I was just sick of my own voice,” he said. “In my previous band (Bionic), I wrote all the songs and dictated how everything was to go. I wanted other voices in the music, so it could get bigger.”
It did, but there were growing pains. The earliest incarnation of USA Out of Vietnam veered into a more-is-more approach to technique that ultimately didn’t fit with its co-founder’s interests.
“I’m too old to go, ‘Check out how good I am on gee-tar!’ ” Cummins said in his best geezer croak. “We grabbed a bunch of songs and went, ‘Now we’re doing these same songs, but this is how they’re going to go.’ And then we used a lot more drones, and it was more minimalist.”
Minimalist in the number of notes, not in scope or volume — or players. The lineup coalesced gradually — Cohen joined, then Drouillard, then Brown, then Anderson — amid a list of departed members far longer than most five-year-old groups can claim.
“That’s been our biggest hindrance,” Cummins said. “As soon as we started getting any sort of momentum, somebody left. It’s just real life. People have jobs and responsibilities, and a lot of people moved away.”
There’s a mutual admiration society in the current lineup, with Cummins expressing gratitude for his bandmates’ talents and other members relishing the opportunity to explore outside their comfort zone.
Ξ   “I’ve traditionally played with punk or metal bands,” Drouillard said. “I never sang before, and playing slower and having larger gaps between Part A and B can really bring out a lot of different melodies. I found, ‘Oh, I’m being creative again, and not just going through the catalogue of things I learned how to play on guitar and then doing them again slightly different.’ ”
“I was used to playing complicated stuff before,” Cohen said, “so it took me a while to understand what it takes to play slow and minimal. And now I love doing it. There are certain songs where I’m so excited to just lay down a foundation.”
Ξ  If a liquefied lineup was a hindrance, so was the delayed vinyl and CD release of Crashing Diseases, brought about by a tragedy of indifference and a comedy of errors. At first, Cummins said, “we were sending it to labels and absolutely nobody was listening.” The album was quietly self-released online two years ago, and after a convoluted knot of logistics was untied, a physical release has finally been slated for June 24 in North America, with Europe having been served last month. “I can’t believe it’s finally coming out,” Cummins said, adding that he has yet to hold the gatefold package, featuring immense psychedelic artwork by Andrew Dickson. “I mean, I’ve seen photos of it.”
Ξ  “It’s strange,” Cohen added, “after two years of it being in limbo and nobody really reacting, now when people do like it, I’m always surprised.”
The reaction is less surprising than the initial lack of one. From the cathartic harmonies of Archangel to the wrecking-ball devastation of Asphodel I, this is passionately performed maximalist minimalism. The towering production “used 125 tracks in some parts,” Cummins said. “String sections, brass sections” — and while the album predates Brown and Anderson’s tenure, there’s a sizable guest cast including Patrick Watson and Molly Sweeney.
With Crashing Diseases at last poised to reach more ears, registering on the right radar is a concern.
“I think it’s going to be difficult (to build an audience), to be honest,” Drouillard said. “We even find it difficult among friends. People say, ‘I love you, man, but it’s just not my thing.’ ”
“Some people are gonna hate it,” Cummins acknowledged. “Who the hell wants to sit through 14-minute-long songs?”
Cue a show of hands at the table.
“OK, me too, but not most people. Most people who are punk rock or whatever will be, ‘Fuck this.’ ”
Ξ  Maybe, which helps explain why Cummins responded with “oh, thank God” when assured that this write-up wouldn’t focus on his previous bands. (For the record, he was also in Doughboys. You stand a better chance of seeing a unicorn at Thursday’s album launch than you do of hearing Shine.) But perhaps USA Out of Vietnam’s entanglement of mind-altering drones, surging harmonies, Pink Floydian atmosphere and other strains of doom-laden psychedelia will find the audience it deserves: one that’s similarly impossible to define. It certainly helps that those monolithic compositions aren’t endurance tests.
Ξ  “Even when I play them now, it’s like, ‘That was 14 minutes?’ ” Brown said. “My old band (Trigger Effect) played a-minute-and-a-half-long songs. If it went over two minutes, we said, ‘Whoa, we’ve got to cut back.’ But I think because it builds and it does whatever it does so well, you don’t really get that impression (from us). It’s not like a 14-minute drone — there’s more happening than that.”
© The Montreal Gazette : http://www.montrealgazette.com/

USA Out of Vietnam — Crashing Diseases and Incurable Airplanes



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