If you’ve taken our advice and seen Viet Ruse perform at any of the shows they’ve played around town in the past year or so, you’ll recognize most if not all of the songs on their 27-minute debut EP. That’s for a couple of reasons: The band, which came together in its current form in 2008, is still pretty young and has a limited amount of material to draw from, but they’re already peppering their fuzzy buckshot blasts with instantly memorable hooks — both vocal and instrumental — worthy of old-school hitmakers. “Age of 23,” for example, slides along Chris Rocha’s slippery guitar while vocalist Myke Miranda struggles to keep his balance, mirroring the uncertainty of the quarter-life-crisis his lyrics describe, and you’ll know it the second time you hear it. “Dresden Release Party,” on the other hand, first burrows into your skull with Miranda’s repeated drawn-out delivery of “t-i-i-i-i-i-i-me,” but drummer Mateo Arredondo’s fidgety beat propels Rocha and Miranda’s overclocked guitar duel to drive it deep into your brainstem. The songs have become more polished with repeated rehearsal, not necessarily a positive; part of the band’s initial appeal was in its ramshackle chaos, which excited us into making favorable comparisons to fundamentally louder acts like Mission of Burma or the Black Angels. “Slow Beginnings,” though, an uptempo pop-rock hunk that features Miranda nearly crooning in a notably more coherent and tuneful voice that “everyday I’m waiting for the day you return/ You know it’s only for you,” is more representative of the sound Viet Ruse appears to be gravitating toward. The brand of punk-damaged reggae we fell in love with live seems to be rapidly morphing into something less noisy and idiosyncratic in the recording studio, but greater accessibility isn’t a bad thing when it’s not gained at the expense of artistic vision. So grab this if you’re a fan of melodic rock ’n’ roll, whether you’re familiar with the band or not. Just be prepared to share Viet Ruse with others. And the next time you catch a gig, be a dear and distract them while I crank up their amplifiers. — Jeremy Martin
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