July 15, 2007

Today's Hotness: Helms, Interpol, Archers of Loaf

Helms live photo courtesy of Brad Searles[PHOTO CREDIT: Brad Searles] >> We were intent on seeing Friday night's Callum Robbins benefit without writing about it. Sometimes we just like to go to shows without constantly considering "well, how are we going to describe that?" But, as usual, we feel compelled to discuss the show, held at Somerville, Mass.'s P.A.'s Lounge and arranged by former Karate band leader Geoff Farina. The bill had Drew O'Doherty opening, Mr. Farina and indie rock journeyman Chris Brokaw supporting as a duo (with a record of interpretations of folk and blues classics on the way), angular rock luminaries Helms supporting and noise provocateurs Neptune top-lining. As we've seen Neptune a couple times [one, two] previously, we ducked out before they began. But we were especially impressed with Mr. O'Doherty and Helms. The former is a very compelling singer-songwriter with an effortless baritone not dissimilar to that of Richard Buckner. He had been an unknown quantity to us before Friday evening despite some glowing (and, it turns out, well-deserved) praise coming from The 'Nac.

Helms we've been a fan of since the release of 2002's McCarthy, which we reviewed here for Junkmedia. Friday afternoon we'd gotten a tip that Helms guitarist Sean McCarthy had broken his arm, so we were fearful the band might not play and another chance to see them would elude us. But, not unlike when we saw Neptune open for Mission Of Burma, Mr. McCarthy showed up (we heard it was actually a broken collar bone at the show, and not a broken arm, but still), presumably played through considerable discomfort, and kicked a lot of ass along with bassist/wife (we think) Tina and drummer/brother Dan. Helms was an unstoppable force Friday night, humorous between songs but driving and hypnotic when playing. There's no excuse why we've never seen them all these years, but you can bet we will see them again. And we're buying their latest record, 2006's Secret Doors on History Major Records, as soon as we finish writing this. The band is offering the excellent track "It Takes Skin To Win" as a download at its MySpace wigwam here, and it is one of our favorites, so we'll offer it, too, even though we already did about 11 months ago here. What can we say, we can't get enough. Speaking of digital audio, Mr. 'Nac recorded both nights of the Callum benefits and we expect you will have the opportunity to hear them sometime pretty soon over there.

Helms -- "It Takes Skin To Win" -- McCarthy
[right click and save as]
[follow the links at the Helms web site to buy their music]

And because we had joked with Mr. 'Nac prior to the show that we'd donate an extra $10 if Farina played the old Karate classic "Today Or Tomorrow" from 1997's In Place Of Real Insight, here's that track, too.

Karate -- "Today Or Tomorrow" -- In Place Of Real Insight
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[buy Karate records from Newbury Comics here]

>> We finally made it to Newbury Comics Thursday for some record shopping. You are reading the words of the man who received the last Interpol/Newbury Comics co-branded pint glass given away as a promo with the sale of the new Our Love To Admire. We also received with our purchase of Interpol's major label debut a vinyl single for "The Heinrich Maneuver" backed with an instrumental version of the album track "Mammoth." And it was by inspecting the vinyl single that we learned that the latest Interpol set was produced with Rich Costey, who around these parts is best known for producing the Lilys' peerless third record Eccsame The Photon Band. Interesting.

>> Other notes from our shopping trip. We had previously stated that the new They Might Be Giants record The Else was produced by Jon Brion. It was actually produced by The Chemical Dust Brothers [DOH!]; we regret the DOUBLE error. We don't know how we got that into our heads. Oh well. We listened to the record and it falls a little flat in our opinion. Interestingly enough, the set comes with a bonus disc that we enjoy more. It's titled Cast Your Pod To The Wind and it's got a bit more quirk, the compositions seem a little brighter and sharper and have a bit more of the duo's characteristic humor. So there you go.

>> Hey, did you know that Last.fm offers on-demand streams of some of the Archers Of Loaf's catalog, including the vinyl singles? Not only that, but also the social networking site offers downloads of a number of Archers tracks, including "Step Into The Light" and "Harnessed In Slums," the first two cuts of the excellent 1995, Bob Weston-recorded masterwork Vee Vee. And certainly if you've never heard "Web In Front" and "Wrong" from the band's debut full length, Last.fm's got free downloads of those, too. "Web In Front" might be the quintessential '90s indie rock track.

>> A couple odd requests: anybody have an MP3 of Lint's one-sided 7" "Fifth Floor," released on Plumb Records in 1996 or so? For those of you who don't recall it, there is more information here, including this description: "Lint is a "supergroup" of sorts. Members of The Swirlies, Spore, Milkmoney, Victory At Sea, SK-70, Landfill, AM Stereo, Grace Budd and more get together to play music unlike anything else they do... every song features a different singer and somewhat different sound." We're also hoping someone has ripped an old 7" by a band called Retriever for the song "Q-Tip." Get in touch if you've got the songs handy. It's been years since we heard them, and we've lost the cassette we recorded them to in college.


Anonymous said...

actually, the They Might Be Giants album was produced by the Dust Brothers (not The Chemical Brothers... or Jon Brion), and some of the album was also produced by Pat Dillett and They Might Be Giants. I didn't think the album is that bad, it has a few really strong tracks on it, but there is definately some boring filler too. It grows on me with each listen though.

Unknown said...

Geez, I really need to look at these CDs when I am writing about them. Doh!

Unknown said...

Ha, Newbury Comics handed me that pint glass, too. But no vinyl. Mind if I borrow your 7" to encode that instrumental? :)

Unknown said...

Actually, I'd be grateful if you did, as I expect it will increase the amount of times I listen to it 10-fold. Let me know when you are on my side of the river next.