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Helms’ sound doesn’t reflect its reputation

The Swimmer takes a leisurely stroll into hypnosis

Helms is a Boston-based three-member band of the indie rock persuasion. The group formed in 1997 and comprises brothers Sean McCarthy on guitar and vocals, Dan McCarthy on drums and Tina Helms playing bass.

According to a press release, Helms has made a good name for itself in Boston and the northeastern region. Helms’ first full-length album, The Swimmer, debuted in late fall 2000 and has received positive responses from college radio-type venues.

The band is now doing a national tour for the album, which was released on Boston label Kimchee Records.

Helms has a similar sound to the droopy, wistful edginess of groups such as Modest Mouse, though Helms perhaps does not have quite the precision of style that other bands of its genre transmit. Helms has also been likened to Karate, June of 44 and Blonde Redhead, and it has toured with groups including Sweep the Leg Johnny and The Sorts.

The Swimmer is described as “Sometimes quiet and graceful, at other times fast, loud and furious, the music leads the listener through a whirlwind of thought provoking images and sounds,” as is the nature of most indie/emo-rock music.

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Helms has a fairly sturdy, fluid groove, and the songs are lyrically intelligent and amiable. Though The Swimmer certainly isn’t a bad record, it does run a little slow. The general pace of the album is purposely droning, yet, at times, the music becomes boring and the soft-spoken words are not quite enigmatic enough to keep the listener totally captivated.

Since The Swimmer seems best suited for a very leisurely disposition, it is hard to imagine Helms really rocking any houses. Ironically, the group is rumored to put on “powerfully mesmerizing live shows,” where most of the band’s popularity has derived.

I imagine, if anything, seeing Helms play would bring about a kind of hypnosis. Perhaps being engulfed in a room filled with music would penetrate Helms’ “vastness” into my ears much more than an impersonal CD.

You can see for yourself on Monday, when Helms and The Album Leaf will take the stage at the Launchpad, 618 Central Ave S.W. For more information and tickets, call 764-8887.

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