Album Reviews

Helvetia: The Clever North Wind [Album Review]


Today is just a dreary day—a day to listen to dreary music. Ten minutes ago I discovered a fellow coworker passed away last Friday. The news swept the office Monday but I had spent the majority of that day elsewhere. I found it odd that, when asking coworkers how their day was, they had negative replies. Yet no one explained to me why. Thus I was left clueless of last Friday’s events. Though I did not know Tory well, I knew he was a good guy, intelligent and kind. And quite young, merely 28. But he had a “bum ticker,” so to speak. He was plagued with a bad heart and was often away from work in pain or the hospital or both. Enter Helvetia (MySpace). Perfect music for such a day. It’s morose. Frantic but calm. The pause before the storm.

Helvetia have an outstanding mix of pent up tension drawn forth through percussion and shakers. Yet the oft-incomprehensible vocals have a gentle grate to them, just as hypnotic but not nearly as nasally as The Appleseed Cast. The drawn-out piano chords heighten the effect as do the reverb-ridden drone of guitars. This Seattle band could have tailed the end of emo, pre Dashboard and Thursday, when the term was used by hipsters and indie-kids without a complimentary sneer. Amidst The Appleseed Cast, The Gloria Record, Mineral, and Sunny Day Real Estate,Helvetia would find a comforting home with its melodic, mellow sorrow.

Maybe I’ve been too harsh. I don’t mean to say “this is an album to listen to when someone dies.” While it is not completely a drown-yourself-in-sorrow album, the hints of sadness are just enough to compliment a day wrought with troubles and bottlenecks, but not one utterly painful. The Clever North Wind is an album to put on upon returning home from an exhausting day; an album to kick back with and let it all go by sitting in your favorite living room chair, closing your eyes, and letting the music sweep over you. Calm. Peaceful. Hypnotic.

Clear your mind.

Let go.

This review was originally published June 13, 2006 on the old version of FensePost.

Helvetia: Beezlebub [mp3]

The Clever North Wind by Helvetia

Up Records [CD, 2006]

1. Songs Of The Ancient
2. Now & Formerly
3. Dusty Rue
4. Beezlebub (Leave Me Be)
5. Gladness (Is In The Heart)
6. A Wild One
7. The Clever North Wind
8. Dead Hands
9. A Great Division
10. Viva The Decline
11. Deidre Of The Sorrows
12. Floaters
13. Laughter & The Art Of Forgetting
14. Hellawaitsya
15. The Drowning End.

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