Friday, May 22, 2009

New Music from Australia's ST HELENS


New music from Australia: Melbourne’s newest indie sensation, St Helens, released its first album, Heavy Profession, in Australia back in April but audiences in the US won't get fully exposed to this one until later this summer. At once catchy, devastating, and quietly relentless, this is exciting new music that's near-impossible to turn away from. We think audiences everywhere will find the wait worth while!

St Helens

Is Melbourne the new Toronto? - Similar to the way Broken Social Scene draws support from numerous Ontario bands to create one amazing mega-band, St Helens pulls from the best that Melbourne’s musical community has to offer. You can trace the band’s members (Jarrod Quarrell, Hannah Brooks, Ian Wadley, Lewis Boyes, and Damian Clarkson) back to The New Season, Spider Vomit, Bird Blobs, Minimum Chips, Alpha Males and Kes, not to mention the less frequent contributions coming from members of Love of Diagrams and Panel of Judges. This pedigree certainly isn’t necessary for a sincere appreciation of St Helens, whose own music will allow the band to make a name for itself, but new fans will have plenty to go back to in order find the precedents and precursors for Heavy Profession.

Hot songs about late-night missteps: The debut effort from St Helens undoubtedly will inspire comparisons to the band’s namesake volcano south of Seattle, Washington—this even though the band’s name most likely gestures towards the town of St. Helens in northeast Tasmania. There is, however, something hot, steady, threatening, and destructive about these songs. Reminiscent of slow churning lava and the dizzying aftershocks of volcanic eruption, they tell the story of our late-night mistakes and miscues.

These songs also communicate the wonder and disbelief with which we often look back on such misadventures, but they never stoop to whining about anything like regret. The steady, persistent hook of the opening track, “Don’t Laugh,” suggests that what’s done is done; there’s no going back to change anything. In fact, St Helens seems determined to deny criticisms of anything its members have done: “Suck it up and take the whole hit.” Through the catchy blend of percussion and melodica on “How to Choose Your Guru, Pt. 2,” the search for answers to life’s mysteries bleeds into the search for one’s keys among someone else’s clothes early the next morning: “Well ever since I was three, God made a fool out of me, and now I’m looking for another to satisfy my needs, so who’s gonna win my love?”

For St Helens; Jarrod Quarrell (Vocals/guitar/keys/songs), Hannah Brooks (Vocals), Ian Wadley (Guitar/Bass), Lewis Boyes (Guitar/Keys/Backing Vocals), and Damian Clarkson (Drums), misdeeds might be the only means to move forward.

Quiet, honest, deliberate, and sexy music: With all of the band’s collaborative energy, you might expect the album to be a bit schizophrenic, but Quarrell’s poignant songwriting keeps Heavy Profession on track. Quarrell and Brooks’ beautiful vocals twist and turn around bare, lo-fi instrumentation that sounds purposeful in all its nakedness. Both the music and the words linger in the quiet space of these sexy tunes. Hipsters everywhere will be turning down the lights when this album hits their turntables later this summer. For those outside of Australia anxious to spin it now, grab Heavy Profession and two bonus tracks on iTunes.


Alexandra said...

'Heavy Profession' is an awesome album, def. a favourite of the year already.
Catching their album launch this weekend, should be mint.
The female lead vocalist is an another band called Spider Vomit (you did mention them). You should really check them out. Mint live band.

Anonymous said...

Theres some great bands that have come out of st helens. Lecky and his balalaika.

So its good to see a new one. Quite a sexy look for the post industrial quagmire of town.

When will you be playing Nexus. I'll take you for kebab down Ginos after the gig if you like.