HELMS: The SwimmerHelms has its roots in the Massachusetts peninsula of Cape Cod, breeding ground in the early-to-mid '90s for a surprising number of quality "post-rock" musicians who later went on to comprise such other bands as Victory at Sea, Robots, and Lynx. Sean McCarthy's first notable band appearance was in 1994 as guitarist for Milkmoney, seemingly a forerunner to the rock sub-genre of slowcore that gained popularity as the decade progressed. His brother Dan drummed for Dagobah, whose sound was an instrumentally heavy marriage of progressive rock and hardcore. By 1996, Sean founded The Television Set with Tina McCarthy (at the time Tina Helms) making her debut on bass, and this band eventually transformed into Helms when Dan replaced their drummer. There was one name stop along the way as The Swimmer. This moniker was dumped when a major label band released a record under a similar name. The Swimmer eventually became the title of their 2000 debut album on Kimchee Records, released following an EP shared with Victory at Sea. A second full-length, McCarthy, had a November 2002 release.
The Helms experience often consists of equal amounts delicacy and power. The band expertly veers from softer hypnotic passages into precipitous cacophony, all the while maintaining total navigational control. Accompanying these sonic vestments is what appears on first listen to be somewhat inconsequential lyric imagery using the ephemera of modern-day culture. Closer attention can lead one to the big picture truths such fables portend. Helms' musical narrative, although marinated in that post-something aural tradition, is original and always compelling.
"The Swimmer" is a record that invites the listener to explore a vast landscape of intriguing emotional spaces. Sometimes quiet and graceful, at other times fast, loud, and furious, the music leads the listener through a whirlwind of thought provoking images and sounds.
All of which makes this CD an effortless addition to your list of things to love, especially if you already have a thing going for bands like Karate, June of 44, and Blonde Redhead.
Check out the artist's website:
1. the kindness of automatic doors
2. we must get there before dark, follow me
3. the smallest world in the world
4. ghosts with searching eyes
5. the television set
6. teenagers in the woods
8. candy fish
- Helms/Victory at Sea
- Victory at Sea
- Rosa Chance Well
- Heidi Saperstein
- Chris Brokaw/Viva Las Vegas
- Tiger Saw
- Geoff Farina