So, this is a very odd thing. Victory Hands are an Atlanta trio who make mathy pop music. That's not too weird, really, but what is weird is that they are, for some reason, obsessed with Richard Nixon.
All of the words on the two tracks here are parts of the redacted Nixon tapes.
And then on BandCamp they say: "The ANDERSON release is the first in a long series of Victory Hands releases named after reporters who Nixon considered his adversaries. Columnist Jack Anderson, an architect of investigative journalism, was a real burr in Nixon's side."
Okay. I don't get the obsession with old Tricky Dick, but i would like to point out to the band that somewhere in my condo is an old "Nixon '72" campaign button that i once found in a jacket or bag or something i bought at a thrift store, or maybe it was a flea market... But i do have a campaign button, and i found it a hilarious piece of American nostalgic kitsch. But Nixon is not someone that i am obsessed with. I mean, i loved the portrayal of Nixon on Matt Groening’s Futurama, but the actual historical person and the tapes and the journalists he hated... never really given any of that more than a passing thought.
But these guys ... they seem to care. A lot.
I guess we all have things we like. I wonder what strange obsession i have that others wonder at? And don't you dare say "PostLibyan's Cocteau Twins obsession" because that makes total sense since they were the greatest band of the late 1980s / early 1990s.
Another weird thing about this record: the band contacted me and asked to send me a 10" vinyl of this release. Okay, sure, so i sent them my address. A few days later a plain white box appeared on my porch. No shipping details or postage, and i opened it to find two (2) copies of the 10" vinyl, one for "King Minion" and one for "Associate Minion"
This kind of creeped me out. These musicians who wanted a review and who i might have reviewed before (their Nixon fetish keeps their web presence a paranoid sparseness) were at my condo, on my porch, probably getting yelled at by my cat. That's ... well, it crosses a line of familiarity that i was not ready to cross with these people.
And i don't even know who they are! On BandCamp they say "Victory Hands is Shawn, Kip and Jimmy" and also "ANDERSON is being released by the HEADPHONE TREATS label (operated by Victory Hands member, Jimmy Ether)." So the band consists of Jimmy Ether (i would wager that is not his real name) and Shawn, and Kip. (Editor’s Note: I, the editor, do actually know them. One of them is good friends with the editor’s real-life work minion.)
On their FaceBook page they say "Alumni from a long line of noisy, mathy, post-most everything bands." Okay. And then they tell me that Shawn plays guitar, Kip is the drummer, and Jimmy Ether is on bass. No idea who sings, and there are vocals. Also, a Kip Thomas replied to several of the official Victory Hands posts, like a band member saying "hey, let’s spell it out for the fans".
But oh god, on their FaceBook page they are wearing Nixon masks! Well, i guess if you have a shtick, you might as well run it into the ground. But godsdammit that looks creepy the three of them in the masks… In Frank Miller’s classic graphic novel The Dark Night Returns there was a vigilante gang called The Nixons who beat people up while wearing Nixon masks. The picture of the three of them reminds me of that.
Anyway, enough about the obsessions and kind-of-creepiness of the band. There are two tracks here, one on each side of the 10".
The a-side is The Guy We Can Kick and starts with a flurry of drums and the guitar tinkling angularly, just a harsh rhythmic sound, then the voice comes in, bellowing gaspy over the music. This reminds me of Rodan or June of 44. It moves along at a good pace, and i like the last half, where the riffing gets groovy and the band harmonizes their readings.
The B-side is If They Give Him The Shaft which starts out more insistently. The whole song more riff-heavy and less angular, which makes it sound like early Sonic Youth. It really moves along nicely, almost two minutes of just quality instrumental riffing. The voice that comes in at the two minute mark sounds different, but that might be a recording issue, or maybe a different band member sings. This is the catchier of the two songs here, which is not to say that the first one was uninteresting, just that the riff here is bouncier.
Both songs are pretty interesting, if you like math rock and noisy post-punk. And i do. I am still not sure what to make of their Nixon fetishism, but whatever.