© 2013 Max Recordings
If it’s anachronistic to be playing quality, moody rock in the year 2006, then consider the Contingencies guilty as charged. The 14 songs featured on the band’s debut, Viva Ole, shift and bend – but never break – under the album’s gritty tension.
Little Rock scene stalwarts for the past several years, The Contingencies, clearly took their time with Viva Ole. The guitars clang off of each other in ways that would make fans of early records by Come, or even at times, Let’s Active take real notice. Singer Dan Johnson goes from a clear, high croon to eager agitation with subtlety and ease.
And while that might keep them in the margins for the short term, we’re counting that the genuineness of the music won’t allow them to stay there for long.
"The Contingencies debut album has this amazing ability to pull me back some fifteen years, dropping me back into my freshman year at college when the world was a little sharper, brighter, and I felt eager to jump into each day. Viva Ole, in a crisp set of fourteen tracks, wrapping up into a tidy package much of the music I was introduced to at the time when I work the over night at the college radio station. There are elements of Sugar, Dinosaur Jr., The Bog Men, and even glimpses of The Pretenders and the 70’s work of Elvis Costello, all of which the band’s label admits might be considered a touch anachronistic in todays indie-rock scene. That aside the album is a nice backward-leaning yet forward-moving album that mines the best of the college rock scene that defined the Alternative genre in the late 80’s and early 90’s.
Dead center in the album are the best examples of The Contingencies brand of bright, shimmering rock with reverb damp guitars and chorus soaked vocals. “Up In The Clouds” presents a tight guitar line that struts about the song like a hopped up folk riff shinning in all its sharp angularness. Towards the end of the song the direction shifts to a more sprawling and slightly grittier feel that alludes to how the band might come off as a live act: loose and and largely unconcerned with conventional structures, instead opting to play to the mood of the audience. “Nameless” follows offering moody vocals that drift outside of the composition buoyed on waves guitar with the treble boosted to the point of sounding like a series of shattered mirrors. “Ruthless Prix” sees them shift up to a sound reminiscent of The Bogmen circa “Closed Captioned Radio” with grit beginning to push aside the brighter tones.
While I’m not as well informed as my partners in crime here at CP headquarters, I have a decent handle on what makes my heart race and this album does. For the sheer nostalgia factor Viva Ole easily makes my Best of 2006 list with its shimmering guitars and crisp production the album tossing me back to those days when almost everything I was listening to was new, exciting, and important. You can stream two tracks over at Myspace or read up on the band over their label’s website and to spice up your next mix throw “Proud As Punch” onto and impress your friends and family with your taste." - Candied Pop (September 2006)