home Album Review Helen 55 – “amped” CD Review

Helen 55 – “amped” CD Review

At first sight, I was stunned by Helen 55‘s performance. Stunned, pleased, and surprised all at once. I saw them at a time when I was deep into Far and the Deftones and bands of that genre that just can’t be pigeonholed, and they end up in some weird “I don’t know what I’m in the mood for” space in my CD collection. And there I stood, at the Troubadour, listening to bands I hadn’t heard yet, and on walks Ronnie and his bandmates in Helen 55. When they began to play, all I could think of was how good they were, and how closely his stage presence resembled that of Jonah Matranga, just in time for the estrangement of Far.

I recently received a copy of ‘amped‘, the newest, full-length, indie release. During the first listen, my ears were in a bit of shock due to the sheer production and polish of hearing the band on a level other than hearing them live. I didn’t quite know what to think or how to react. But after my third and fourth round, and a pleasant listen of the same CD on the Troubadour’s killer, overhead, sound system last night in between bands on ‘Free Mondays’, I got that push I needed. I like it. In fact, I like it a lot.

First, you’ll want to hear this one loud. Second, make sure your system is worthy of what Helen 55 is putting out. Take ‘Spinner ‘ for example. This is the first track on the CD. It’s like having smooth and crunchy peanut butter at the same time. It crunches, it flows, and it totally sticks. The underlying guitar and bass lines (expertly executed by none other than band spokesperson and main lyricist, Shon Kornfeld, and by bass player, D. Valles) are so familar that you will drive yourself nuts trying to figure out where you’ve heard it before if you’re not entirely ‘at one’ with the CD yet. Once you are, however, you won’t forget again.

Continue your listening experience and you will arrive at a track called ‘Music‘. The chorus on this one is what will grab you by the ears and spin your head around. How can you miss with a song that has a chorus as passionate as this? “Music, that’s the only thing that’s been true to me.” Someone has perfectly described true adoration of his craft.

Helen 55 is one of those bands that people will really get behind and support. I feel that already. At a club one night, I asked the sound guy what he was playing, before I knew the band very well. And he said to me, with this proud, “I stand behind this band 1000%” look on his face – “It’s Helen 55.” Period. No embellishment. No elaboration. Just …bam! The music speaks for itself.

So, enough already; I’m not giving you anything more for free. Go get this CD. Preferably, buy one from the band. Beg, borrow, or steal; just do what you need to do. Trust me on this one and just get it.

Lesa Pence

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