R5 Productions Presents
Big Business, Torche
2125 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19103
BIG BUSINESS has two guys in it. It is spelled here in capital letters so you know we're talking about a serious band. Jared Warren plays the bass guitar and sings. He used to be in this band KARP and then he was in this other band for awhile name of TIGHT BROS FROM WAAAY BACK WHEN. Coady Willis plays the drums and sometimes yells and stuff. He used to be in the MURDER CITY DEVILS and probably some other bands you haven't ever heard of. BIG BUSINESS put out their first full-length record out in January 2005. HYDRAHEAD RECORDS was the label, HEAD FOR THE SHALLOW was the title. Lots of touring followed. Adventure! Then, a mysterious phone call led to a secret meeting with the MELVINS. BIG BUSINESS became part of the MELVINS with Buzz Osborne on guitar and vocals, Jared assuming bass and vocal duties, and Coady playing second drumset alongside Dale Crover. This new lineup recorded an album in the summer of 2006 and called it (A) Senile Animal. Out Oct. 10th on IPECAC records. But Wait! BIG BUSINESS has also just recorded a new record! "HERE COME THE WATERWORKS". It was produced by record producer PHIL EK (Modest Mouse, Built to Spill, Band of Horses) and was dropped on your face by Hydra Head on March 6 of 2007.
Torche, our favorite sludge pop geniuses, who by our reckoning should be HUGE. They may be heavy and loud and distorted, and feature members of Shitstorm and Floor and Dove, but the music they make as Torche is something else entirely. The guitars massive chugging and crunchy, the drums pounding and brutal, the bass thick and buzzy, the vocals a totally unique wail / croon, they sound a bit like the Foo Fighters, if the Foo Fighters were heavier and catchier and more punk rock.
Big guitars, a killer hook of a chorus, amazing harmonies, kick ass drumming, even some shredding leads, this band just keeps getting better and better, but also tighter and more polished, without ever sounding wussier or like sellouts.
Helms Alee’s music is exactly the sort of mutant, fantastic hybrid that used to only occasionally erupt out of small, isolated scenes, uninformed by trends of the day — instead inspired by the band’s own collective contributions. The Seattle trio’s unique amalgam of metal, art rock, pop and punk is charmingly reminiscent of the fertile creativity that groups once had before the Internet seemed to instruct bands to only copy one another. Helms Alee’s third album, Sleepwalking Sailors sounds like many styles combined into one, and none of it concerned with any notion other than creating vital, urgent and uniquely characteristic music.
Bassist/vocalist Dana James, drummer/vocalist Hozoji Matheson-Margullis and guitarist/vocalist Ben Verellen combine a vast array of ideas within a single song, while still sounding entirely cohesive. Their songs are undeniably heavy, but also freely roaming through icy post-punk and warm melodic haze at any given moment. Any given song can be pummeling one moment and then subtly shift into triply harmonies without the listener even realizing what has happened.
“The weird thing about it,” Verellen muses, “is that we’ve got three different people contributing lyrics, parts and melodies to each song. So, they end up being disjointed by our individual input. We spent 3-1/2 years writing the songs for this album, so it’s thematically all over the place.”
Sleepwalking Sailors was recorded with engineer Chris Common (These Arms Are Snakes, Pelican, Chelsea Wolfe) in Seattle, with intentionally built-in limitations. “We recorded the album to tape in order to confine ourselves from ProTools refining every detail. We ended up with something that sounds really big, but also a bit more aggressive.” Helms Alee’s previous album Weatherhead was released in 2011 to much acclaim by their longtime label HydraHead just before it went under. Undaunted, and as a testament to the band’s strong fan base, Helms Alee originally crowdfunded Sleepwalking Sailors, eventually raising an impressive recording budget. Upon hearing Common’s early mixes, Sargent House quickly offered to bring the band onto their management roster and release the new album. Throughout the course of the album’s creation, the band’s independent aesthetic becomes clear: a dedication to truly representing themselves, regardless of trends and outside influence.
Album opener “Pleasure Center” kicks off with churning riffs and staccato drums that repeat and morph in a constant build that’s equal parts Gang Of Four as it is early Soundgarden. The slithering and perfectly meshed distorted rattle of James’ bass with Verellen’s climbing, chiming single notes on “Tumescence” lead off with Neurosis style heft, but soon give way to compelling minor-key vocal harmonies laid over the proceedings. Elsewhere, James’ and Matheson-Margullis’ even more pop-hook leaning vocal harmonies lend a transcendence to the proceedings. “Pinniped” pits near chamber-pop group vocal harmonies against screaming, wailing guitar blasts and thumping tom drum beats. Throughout the album, Helms Alee prove that their unique creative spark is its greatest asset in creating incisive and insightful music.
Sleepwalking Sailors will be released everywhere worldwide on LP, CD and download on February 11th, 2014 via Sargent House.