An AIM conversation between myself and my D.C. friend Cami
June 2, 2004 at 6:46 PST
scienceorromance: Your thoughts on the Helio Sequence?
(myfriendcamisIM): hahha um, i have never heard of them
scienceorromance: first impressions? based just on name and the kind of stuff I like? (I like them)
(myfriendcamisIM): um, helio sequence reminds me of hilo hawaii, mixed with double helix of DNA
scienceorromance: so….i should take that how?
(myfriendcamisIM): ummm, in a quirky cool way?
scienceorromance: by the way, this last little bit of dialogue is the lead for the review now.
(myfriendcamisIM): hahaha of course
(myfriendcamisIM): that's a typical joe tactic 🙂
For those like my dear friend Cami who are unfamiliar with the band in question, read on for enlightenment and a chance to achieve a satori of only the deepest proportions. If you already like/love the band, then read on just to get a prose-ized sneak peek at the new album. If you are one of those people who only know the band because you like/love someone who like/loves the band, then read on just so you can casually drop an intended tidbit about the new album into a conversation with said object-of-affection (e.g. "Yeah, I read that the new album has a lot to do with Hilo, Hawaii and the double helix structure of DNA…sounds pretty tight, pretty Radiohead-ish. Want to go get a Jamba Juice and watch the O.C.?").
Once upon a time there is a band called the Helio Sequence, and once again upon that time there is their new album, Love and Distance. (haha, that rhymes). That band is Portland-ers Brandon Summers and Benjamin Weikel making sounds with instruments like harmonicas and guitars and keyboards. Some of the music was recorded in Brandon and Benjamin's apartments, some in Benjamin's parents' bonus room and basement, and some in Isaac Brock's modestly-sized garage. It came out, however, like it was recorded in a carnival tent full of the best parts of that wonderful indie-rock-involving-computers genre.
When igDana offered to let me have the promo — much to the chagrin of her fiancé, ifDavid — I was only too happy to accept the creatively packaged (by the good folks at Sub Pop, not Dana) gift. Was it going to be a good record to listen to on the drive from the Crocodile back to Puyallup and then on to my grandma's in Eatonville? Dana, not Sub Pop, assured me that it would.
And oh what a record it turned out to be. "Harmonica Song" kicked in and all the typical snares of good indie rock, those being "hooks" and "screams" and "melodies-assured-to-be-labeled-'quintessential'-by-some-reviewer-somewhere", sucked me in and made me want to live inside the rocky tunnel of harmonica crawling out of my speakers and obstructing my view of the I-5 on ramp.
But beyond silliness, there is the serious matter at hand of actually giving you diehards an idea of what the new album is like. Well, it's a new Helio Sequence record, so that should give you a good starting point. I think it's fair to say that anyone who has been a fan of the Helio Sequence continue being a fan after hearing Love and Distance, and maybe Benjamin and Brandon will even climb a few rungs on the hierarchy of their favorite bands.
It has come time, however, to provide you all, dear imaginary readers, with the important similes and metaphors that are the very heart of the center or the anchor of the soul of music journalism:
Simile: On Love and Distance, Helio Sequence have effectively blended the musical stylings of The Flaming Lips with the best moments of Modest Mouse's later songwriting, and without Brock's trademark Issaquah-twang voice. (Must have been recording in that garage.)
Metaphor: Love and Distance is the peanut butter sandwich and diet coke when you're simultaneously hungry and thirsty but don't want to get out of your lawn chair because you're reading a really great collection of Ondaatje poetry and it's summer outside. It is also a cheeseburger and beer if you're in the same situation and like to eat dead cows.
Like all good albums, Love and Distance is best taken from beginning to end, but along the way some of the ten tracks stand out as being worthy of individual mention. "Everyone Knows Everyone" and "Don't Look Away" are both great sing alongs, and they'll be the ones stuck in your head at the end of the virginal listen. "Let it Fall Apart" might be the best song on the album, whereas the closer "Looks Good (but you looked away)" is definitely going to end up being a lot of people's favorite. It's slow, with a classical guitar, and just damned beautiful. It is like watching an orange cruise liner sink into the Pacific Ocean, mistaking it for the sun setting. A fitting end to a fittingly perfect album for a Seattle summer. (I hear summer's going to be a Wednesday this year, by the way, so save those sick days.)