Favorited ex.fm Songs

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Helio Sequence (Sasquatch #2)

A couple posts ago I wrote about discovering Of Monsters and Men while listening to music by artists that will be performing at Sasquatch Music Festival this year. Since then, I've continued to pile up artists that I've wanted to write about, but I've been too busy to get much written. However, today I can finally get around to my second installment, The Helio Sequence.

The Helio Sequence is an indie rock band from the Portland area. I'm not sure if there is something in the water in Portland or what, but they really seem to churn out great musicians left and right (like M. Ward, The Decemberists, The Shins, Elliott Smith, Blind Pilot, and plenty more). Additionally, the band is signed to Seattle based Sub Pop Records (which has been a more metaphorical home for such great artists as The Postal Service, The Album Leaf, Band of Horses, and The Shins, in addition to signing Nirvana and releasing their first record). Between those two facts, I'm kind of surprised I wasn't aware of The Helio Sequence until now. One reason for that may be that they haven't released an album since 2008 when they released "Keep Your Eyes Ahead."

There is plenty to love on "Keep Your Eyes Ahead" though. The title track is a catchy indie rock number (which you can download via The Current by right clicking here). A writer (and probably also DJ) for KEXP posted a list of his 99 Favorite Songs of All-Time that included "Keep Your Eyes Ahead" at number 64. I'd have to listen to it more to see if it becomes a favorite of mine, but in the meantime the song preceding it on the album was the one that immediately hooked me.

While "Keep Your Eyes Ahead" is fairly energetic guitar and drum driven rock, "Shed Your Love" is a really sweet sounding acoustic song with mostly soft guitar and hushed vocals. Both of these songs deal with loss of some form with the former being about looking forward while the latter focuses on dealing more with the past.

The general sound of the song reminds me a bit of "Hey There Delilah" by Plain White T's (although I like this one a lot more). Both songs deal with themes of distance separating two people. But where "Hey There Delilah" is much more optimistic about the future, "Shed Your Love" seems to focus on a relationship that fell apart before the singer was ready for it as illustrated in lines like:
Home again to find that you were gone
On a subway train before the dawn
Said that you couldn’t stay and wait for me
Shed your love, shed your love
I'm not sure I can exactly pinpoint why I connected with the song so strongly when I first heard it, but I listened to it about 5 times in a row before moving onto the rest of the album (and I've returned to it a bunch since then). You can listen to the song in the video below:

If you're looking for a third track to check out, "Hallelujah" (not a Leonard Cohen cover) is another favorite of mine. With that said, I've been listening to the album while writing this post, and the whole thing is really starting to grow on me, so I recommend just listening to the whole thing on Spotify or downloading it if you like the tracks above.

According to the band's Facebook page, they are almost finished with a new album that should be out sometime this year. If the new one is anything like their last, I expect it to find it solidly entrenched somewhere on my favorite albums of the year come December.

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