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Keep Your Eyes Ahead

The Helio Sequence

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Album Review

On 2004's Love and Distance, frontman Brandon Summers found his voice and pushed it the forefront of his band's swirling sound. The album was a step forward for the Helio Sequence, but it was still a haphazard move, one that found Summers yelping and shouting in an attempt to deliver a memorable performance. The frontman had an even tougher time on the road, where a string of shows steadily whittled his voice down to a raspy fraction of its original power. Four years later, Summers appears to have regained the use of his pipes, and the band's fourth album, Keep Your Eyes Ahead, is another sonic jump. Summers no longer yelps, perhaps because his scarred throat simply won't let him, and the group now alternates between massive psych-rock, dreamy pop, and Dylan-influence folk. For a band that used to channel My Bloody Valentine's mix of noise and beauty, folksy ballads like "Broken Afternoon" and "Shed Your Love" are a big change, a result of Summers' desire to slow down the band's galloping pace. But the group is still able to build up cloudy walls of sound, adding bubbling electronics and layers of instruments into songs that are lush, towering, and altogether gorgeous. The album's biggest songs — "Hallelujah," "Can't Say No," and the reverb-drenched title track — are driven not only by dense guitars, but also a new focus on melody. They're still too loud to be the work of a genuine pop band, but that's certainly where the Helio Sequence seems to be heading, having trimmed the length of their tunes (nothing here exceeds the 4:30 mark) and emphasized songcraft over pure ambience. If Love and Distance was the album that pushed the Helio Sequence off the rails, Keep Your Eyes Ahead is the sound of the duo getting back on track.

Biography

Formed: 1999 in Portland, OR

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

The Portland-based duo Helio Sequence is comprised of vocalist/guitarist Brandon Summers and keyboardist/drummer Benjamin Weikel. Debuting in 1999 with an ambient, psychedelic sound that placed as much emphasis on the guitar as Summers' muted vocals, the band issued the Accelerated Slow-Motion Cinema EP before dropping the full-length Com Plex in 2000. Helio Sequence's 100-percent home studio approach allowed for a lot of sonic experimentation, and that aesthetic informed the swirls and layers of...
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Keep Your Eyes Ahead, The Helio Sequence
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