Fun Fest Preview: The Helio Sequence

We’re only a a short week or so away now from the upcoming Fun Fest this weekend and it’s time for us to start really delving into this lineup.  It’s hard for me to pick just one band to focus on so we’ll be bringing you several previews this week with bands we deem worthy of your time.  Today I’d like to turn your attention to veteran indie outfit The Helio Sequence.  Follow the jump for a little info on the band and their set time.

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The Helio Sequence – Negotiations

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Oregon duo The Helio Sequence are over a decade into their career, carefully crafting intimate tunes that seem to be enduring in most people’s record collection, and hearts as well.  On their fifth full length, Negotiations, there are some stunningly brilliant moments of pop, though their intimate approach often heads in only one direction, which may (or may not) wear down listeners come the end of the record.

Coming out of the gate, The Helio Sequence clearly have lofty intentions.  “One More Time” has a vocal that rises almost immediately after its introduction, but a slight change in the pitch provides a different direction.  All the while, the guitar rings in the far background of the song, and the drums provide a perfect pace.  Negotiations continues to climb higher towards perfection with “October,” utilizing a soft vocal introduction, before it playfully turns you on your ear with the “go go go, if you wanna go” refrain.  Each time I listen to this track, I swear it continues to warm me, making it one of my favorite tracks from the duo.  But, while the opening segment is rock solid, it peaks out here, unfortunately.

There’s definitely a noisier approach to the duo’s craftsmanship as the record proceeds, using bits of feedback on tracks like “When the Shadow Falls” or a heavier bit of emotion on “Hall of Mirrors.”  Both songs are interesting to a certain extent, but their power is diminished by the album’s opening moments, which will still remain in most listeners heads.  Perhaps it’s not the most apropos conversation to have, but I feel like the rehearsal or studio time falls short on the latter half; it just doesn’t quite fit with the beautiful moments that came in early on Negotiations.

Yet, despite some mild pitfalls, there’s also an interesting mix of more traditional folk-influenced tunes that one could consider winning efforts, such as “Harvester of Souls” or “December.”  The former track is definitely a quieter track, mostly revolving around vocals and carefully picked guitar, with hints of atmospheric accompaniment use to provide depth.  On the latter of the two songs, the band tries to remain quiet to a certain extent, but they can’t seem to escape the formulaic approach that seeps through your stereos as you listen to The Helio Sequence.

I’m not going to lie; I quite like this record.  It comes to me at the perfect time of the year, with a slight change in the weather, and a slight change in what I plan on listening to during my days.  That being said, the more I listen to Negotiations, the more it has a tendency to blend into the background as I play it from start to finish.  You’ll find exceptional highs, especially near the beginning, and you’ll find some that fall short, but it’s very much a record by The Helio Sequence in sound and scope; I think that’s just enough to please the fans of the group.


Download:The Helio Sequence – Hall of Mirrors [MP3]

Negotiations is out now via Sub Pop.

More New Music From The Helio Sequence

Last month we heard a new single from The Helio Sequence called “October” and I know the entire ATH crew was pumped to hear the band was back into action.  Today the band is offering another new song called “Hall of Mirrors” up for free download and it’s getting us even more amped up for the upcoming album.  As previously mentioned, Helio Sequence have a new album coming out entitled Negotiations which is available on September 11th via Sub Pop.


Download: The Helio Sequence – Hall of Mirrors [MP3]

Brand New Beauty from The Helio Sequence

There are some bands who you wonder how they’ve remained in obscurity for so long.  I know it’s been four years since The Helio Sequence last released Keep Your Eyes Ahead, but even still, that record is super solid. And now, with the band set to release Negotiations on September 11th via Sub Pop Records, you expect big things, even if no one else does.  Listening to this track, it has the marks of the current indie climate, capturing both beauty and melody simultaneously, while still maintaining the intimacy I’ve always appreciated about the group.  If there was one band more people need to love, it’s this one.  Listen in to see if you don’t agree.


Download:The Helio Sequence – October [MP3]