Helen Earth Band - Our Own Ghost City (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Helen Earth Band

Our Own Ghost City (2009)

Peephole People

Helen Earth Band is compromised of members from both Counterfit and Finch, and frankly, their debut, Our Own Ghost City picks up almost directly where Counterfit left off. If you are unfamiliar with the San Diego-based predecessor, their sound wasn't too far off from early Mock Orange-style indie rock, barring the amount of distortion and heavy punk undertones.

The difference is the amount of variety. One of the very few issues I had with Counterfit was that the music wasn't very dynamically challenging; the majority of their compositions were essentially lightly overdriven, noodly riffs within the position of a given seventh chord. Even when the band got quiet, it's not like they were very loud in the first place. Helen Earth Band not only increases and decreases volume more frequently, but the combination of a keyboardist and three vocalists welcome more opportunities and layers to strip away before complete silence.

Overall, Our Own Ghost City is a rather slow effort. Much of the focus is on the juxtaposition of soaring harmonies and steady, concentrated, irregular time signatures. The single "(We All) Talk with Knives" and the jingle bell-laden "Lullaby" find time to groove on a more consistent rhythm, if only briefly. "The Silence" (ironically the noisiest track) is the real treasure; not only do you catch a glimpse of energy not exerted on the rest of the album, it contains an absolutely ridiculous breakdown (in a timing sense) and the most memorable hooks.

Our Own Ghost City may not be as immediately catchy as Counterfit, but it's a profound and competent piece of music--it may be just a bit hard to swallow.