Long after several generations of contemporaries have folded or flopped, the brothers Thomas Young (Phoenix, AZ); Joseph “Joe” Young (Charlotte, NC) are still writing the story of their careers in a project called Victims of the New Math, adding some essential and entertaining chapters on their latest 10 track album “New Victorians”. The album is a melting pot of different styles of music both in form as in function. It is a lo-fi retro treasure containing original treatments of folk, blues, rock, psychedelia, indie and possibly other types of music that were last identified during the sixties and seventies. At the same time, the songs are highly melodic, musically dense, and even very catchy at times, turning them into a part of an indie-rock flavored oeuvre that can appeal to listeners not used to the complexities (and pretensions, some would argue) of some prog rock music from the same eras. Sometimes the music here suggests tripping out, other times it induces to get up and jam.
Victims of the New Math oversee a fusion between creative artistry, organic musicianship, and a devil may care attitude when it comes to shiny studio technology. “New Victorians” harkens back to a time when people looked forward to their favorite band’s albums.
You waited for the release date, got to the store in the morning, and were locked inside with the album by lunch time, listening over and over. Buy it, play it, listen to it, listen to it, and listen to it even more. That was the way to go long before iTunes and the rest of the digital download platforms came along.
There’s a lot to be said for bands that can strip music down to its rawest essentials, bypassing technique for simple, direct melody and power. “New Victorians” is an impossibly recorded retro masterwork of melody, noise, abrasion, and indefinable beauty, as the album finds Victims of the New Math creating unrestrained rock pastiches out of carefully assembled raw and organic instruments, classic homemade vocals, and an infinite number of ideas, including a recording made on an iPhone app. They’ve been doing music off and on since the ‘80s, and it shows.
“New Victorians” is far from flawless, and surely doesn’t love gimmicks – and that is the beauty of the album. From the first notes of the opening titular track, the music sounds fiery yet mystical, owing to the odd pitch of vocals that actually propel the guitar and bass melodies forward in a manner that will never go out of one’s mind even after a single listen: the effect is of so many melodic lines molded perfectly into a single unit.
“Love One Another” shows just how the band make their dreamy melody into a strange mystery of themselves, whilst the wonderfully delicate “Not the Only One” literally floats a listener through its amazing effortlessness.
“Are You Happy?” and “Find Your Way Home” find virtue in austere simplicity. Then there are those raw edge songs that blaze from your speakers with such a confident buzz like “Unfinished Business” and “Can’t Stop Loving You” that you just can’t help but be captivated by them.
Often when you listen to music that does not fit your normal tastes it would be easy to dismiss it after a one listen, and that is often a mistake. Such is the case with “New Victorians”. It’s dirty, it’s noisy, it’s visceral, hence it requires a whole lot more patience to get to the core of where Victims of the New Math are really coming from.