#25 on the 2012 Musical Bacon Calendar
Negotiations by The Helio Sequence
From a band that was three, broke up, and returned to being a trio, to a band that was a trio and is now a duo, and now to a band that is and always has been a duo—apparently I have an appreciation for small bands. Small bands with big sound. Perhaps you’ve heard me talk about the Helio Sequence before. They’re one of my long-time favorites, having discovered them when they were just starting to take hold in their native Beaverton, Oregon back in 1999 when I lived there VERY briefly.
It used to be that, while I loved their music, I thought the two band members, Benjamin Weikel (drums) and Brandon Summers (guitar and vocals) were cheating. They were using a Mac laptop on stage to play other previously-recorded parts of their songs. Nowadays, a lot of bands do this. But in 1999, this was well before it became unusual to not see a laptop on stage. Summers is an ample songwriter, with a smooth, upper-range sing song-y voice and good rhythm guitar skills. Weikel is one of the best — if not the best — drummers I’ve ever seen. But with a laptop filling out their songs, limiting their ability to improvise on stage, it just didn’t feel right.
12+ years on, I’ve gotten past it. This new album, their fifth full-length, is in the same field as their previous sub-pop releases: pretty, slightly over-produced indie rock songs. None of the albums have been able to achieve the greatness of their first full-length, Com Plex, but it’s been an enjoyable ride.
I wasn’t planning on putting this album on the list, but a perfectly-timed song played on KEXP during my 10-minute snooze routine one morning sunk deep into my psyche and I just can’t shake it. There’s something a little unknowable about this album. Like a few of the albums so far on the list, it’s a grower. This is a good thing.
26. Moms by Menomena
27. The Sound of the Life of the Mind by Ben Folds Five
28. Shields by Grizzly Bear
29. Every Child A Daughter, Every Moon A Sun by The Wooden Sky
30. Fragrant World by Yeasayer
31. Reign of Terror by Sleigh Bells