Watch & Listen

J. Robbins: voice, guitar
Bill Barbot: guitar, voice
Kim Coletta: bass guitar
Zach Barocas: drum kit
Jawbox was formed in Washington, DC in 1989 by J. Robbins, bassist Kim Coletta, and original
drummer Adam Wade. The group released their debut 7” in 1990 on their own DeSoto label.
Grippe , released on Dischord Records in 1991, was Jawbox’s first full-length outing. That year
saw second guitarist/singer Bill Barbot join the line-up in time to create a denser sound for
1992’s Novelty , also released on Dischord.
Zach Barocas assumed drumming duties in April ‘92, ushering in a new era for the group with
his contributions to the rhythm section and the band’s songwriting, as first exhibited on 1994’s
For Your Own Special Sweetheart .
Tours of all sizes and durations throughout Europe and the U.S. were part and parcel of
Jawbox’s routine back then. Equally explosive at Red Rocks or a Roman squat, they were in all
cases a galvanized, well-oiled band.
They released their last album, the self-titled Jawbox LP, in 1996, and after another year of
touring, broke up in 1997. Although Atlantic Records released the last two albums, Dischord has
since made all of the band’s full-lengths available.
The group reunited briefly in 2009 for an appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon . The
performance was a one-off, and there was no subsequent talk of any other shows of any kind
for years.
In early 2017, however, Zach contacted his former bandmates to see what they thought about
playing some shows. The resulting conversations were at first casual, but eventually moved the
band to action, and by June they began rehearsing for the shows that now comprise An
Impartial Overview.
It’s been an exciting time, reacquainting not only with the music but also with each other.
However much the members of Jawbox have played elsewhere over the years, there is no
doubt that the chemistry and energy they bring to this band remains unique for each of them.
The sets will draw from most of their discography with an emphasis on the
Robbins/Coletta/Barbot/Barocas recordings, especially For Your Own Special Sweetheart and
Jawbox , which albums mark the peak of their creative and performative time together. Longtime
fans will be in familiar territory: Coletta’s irrepressible presence; Robbins’s heartfelt guitar and
vocal harmonic roar; Barbot’s razor-sharp vocal and guitar challenge and complement; and
Barocas’s exacting flail and crash continue to coalesce as they always have, as a single
functioning musical unit.

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.

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