Helen Earth Band

Our Own Ghost City

Written by: TL on 11/01/2011 23:28:03

Despite my persistent efforts at remedying my reviewing situation, I still have about two handfuls of promos to go before I'm done with all of last years obligations, and one while I get on with it, one record that has not been doing me any favours is "Our Own Ghost City", the debut album the US quartet Helen Earth Band, who feature Marc Allen of Finch-fame on drums.

Now, I've been listening to "Our Own Ghost City" quite a few times, and I think the best thing I can say to compliment the band for it, is that it has been an absolute head-ache to figure out (uh-oh!). These guys hardly sound like anything I've heard before, and I don't think that's a coincidence, because considering the technical intricacy of the material here, I can't imagine that many other bands wanting to try their hand at something similar.

For the first couple of songs, HEB remind me of Biffy Clyro's sound on their second and third albums, when they were quirky as hell. Two guitars dominate the soundscape with a mathy tone, one usually laying down a floaty atmosphere while the other rips it up with abrupt chords, inducing a feeling of 90's emo/alternative to the mix, with bands like Cursive and Sunny Day Real Estate entering my mind as the only comparisons I can initially think of.

This stuff is challenging to listen to, let alone play, and the main drawback of the record is that, as opposed to the bands I've referred to, Helen Earth Band don't seem like they'd be willing to write an easily memorable moment if their lives depended on it. I've listened to the record again and again and again, but while I can recognize the coolness in trying to push the envelope and do something different, I can't help but to question if these guys have actually remembered that it's okay to also flat out rock on occasion? I mean, bands like those I've already mentioned, as well as someone like Damiear, or Denmark's own Mew - They've all mixed things up technically, and yet somehow managed to add things up into memorable moments anyway.

And those are what I at least personally find to be painfully absent from "Our Own Ghost City", which in my ears just starts floating out in the back of my awareness after a few tracks, seems samey and lengthy around halfway through, eventually ending without giving me much to make me think I'll remember this band in a few weeks time. These guys are certainly able musicians, but when it comes to also really engaging listeners, I'm not so sure. It could be that I'm just too simple minded, or that I've listened to too much silly pop-rock to truly appreciate what's going on, but hey, that's the way the cookie crumbles in my reviews. If you disagree, I'm sure it wouldn't take you too long, finding reviews that sing the praise of these maestros elsewhere.


Download: Shakencutt, Planemo, Retain
For The Fans Of: Infinity Land-era Biffy Clyro, Damiera, Cursive, Sunny Day Real Estate, Mew
Listen: myspace.com/helenearthband

Release Date 01.06.2010
** Self-Released**

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