The first time I heard Help was sometime in early 2020, as a result of reading the comments section in a Portland Musician’s group on Facebook. Someone (semi-specifically, one of the members of The Heavy Hustle) had dropped the band’s Bandcamp link in the comments. The first song I heard was the featured Bandcamp track, “The Devil is a Snake” and I was blown away. I found myself listening obsessively to their self-titled debut EP (originally released in August of 2019) over and over again for days and days. It’s noisy, gritty, and frantic. Most importantly, it is in your face and punk rock. My first thought when hearing the band was thinking it was like hardcore noise-punk slam poetry. I absolutely loved it.
Earlier this month Help, a Portland-based Punk trio, have announced that they are hitting the road for a mini-Pacific Northwestern tour in support of a brand new full-length album entitled “2053” that will be dropping March 15th, 2022! The band will be playing in Portland, Salem, Eugene, Seattle, as well as a stop at Treefort Music Festival in Boise, Idaho. Show dates listed below. As if that wasn’t enough awesome enough news, I am thrilled to be writing that we are also able to share the brand new single from the album with you today right here on the blog!
The band was founded in 2019 by Ryan Neighbors (ex-Portugal. The Man member), Bim Ditson (ex-And And And member) and Boone Howard (recently replaced by new bassist, Morty). The band’s work was met early on with high praise, being named Portland’s Best New Band by Willamette Week and performing at the esteemed Pickathon Festival in Oregon. One can only expect those type of accolades to continue as “2053” expands on the band’s sound, writhing in focused bouts of feedback and rhythmic dissonance, unchecked slabs of aggro, and atmospheric noise that threatens to implode before somehow resolving. The opening lines of what is perhaps my favorite song on the album, encapsulates the sound and spirit of the project quite well:
“It’s not for the money, It’s not for the art, We’re coming together, Just to fall apart.”Lyrics from “Ultra Violent Ones”
Just earlier this year, the band premiered of the first single off the album called “Sound and Vision” in conjunction with a music video via New Noise Magazine. Check it out.
The album was recorded at the Map Room in Portland with eminent producer Sonny DiPerri, who’s notable works include with Portugal. The Man, Animal Collective, Protomartyr, and Emma Ruth Rundle. The mix and engineering is masterful, the audible frequencies are all so contained in the mix, yet individually present, not taking an ounce way from the intensity of each’s performance.
At this point, you’re likely reading into the spoiler alert that I got to listen to the album early. **Laughs maniacally**
Fun fact, the song “Jesus God” was actually available on Bandcamp briefly before being pulled at some point later on for the release of this album. I bought the single as soon as it dropped on Bandcamp, and wondered for a while what the heck happened to it (as it was no longer in my collection). I was pleasantly surprised to hear it again on “2053.”
Subjectively, “2053” has a dystopian and apocalyptic theme to it. Imagining the apocalypse doesn’t seem as dramatic as it once did. By the day this feels more and more so. Thus, the band taps into this phenomenon regularly throughout the album. And conceptually, it points to a place in time 21 years from now. To quote the guitarist/vocalist:
“The lyrical content is already about everything falling apart around us as humans, but imagining things only getting worse 21 years from now is just sad, hopeless, and realistic.”Ryan Neighbors
When you put your blood, sweat, and tears into a piece of art it can be enlightening to realize how it comes across to listeners. To quote the drummer about his perception of the album’s content:
“The thing Help woke up in me was that music and art are a force, a powerful force, without an agenda. I’m pretty certain that 2053 is the best thing I’ve ever worked on. I think there’s a set of people out there who will hear it in the way I do, and that’s cool, but I also know it’s good in the way that there are many people who will hear it in a different way, and it will mean something else to them, and that’s life.”Bim Ditson
The former bass player, who co-wrote the album adds,
“It’s weird and crazy to listen to, even as someone who wrote parts of it. Musical sections and dynamic choices for which I went strongly to bat seem almost alien when I hear them again a year later.”Boone Howard
My personal favorite lyric from the album: “I’m not happy, whatever that means.”
The band’s aggro-noise onslaught will continue as they plan to release a new single per week leading up to the release date, beginning today with the incendiary “Fire and Ashes and Shit.” The track’s propulsive sonic real estate is lush with atmospherics, turning an otherwise abrasive punk anthem into an appropriately nuanced ethereal rollercoaster. Check it out:
Help kicked off their mini tour in Portland at the Doug Fir last Thursday on 02-10-22. They played a great set featuring the new material, with Beverly Crusher (from Seattle) and Spoon Benders (from Portland) also sharing the bill. The first 25 people through the door got some free merch, (check out what I got HERE) it was a great time.
Some final thoughts from Neighbors about the choice to hit the road:
“It was a real bummer to release music you have been working very hard on and not be able to play it live and sweat all over the place, I never want to release music and not be sweaty.”
Let’s hope 2022 is the year of getting sweaty with friends again, safely, with 2053 as a fitting soundtrack to the ongoing decline of civilization. I’m really looking forward to the record release show on the 18th, grab your tickets below and I hope to see you there at Bunk Bar!
3/18: Portland, OR – Bunk Bar **Album Release** (new tapes, vinyl, and shirts) BUY TICKETS HERE
UPCOMING DATES FOR THE MINI NW TOUR
3/19: Salem, OR – TBD
3/20: Eugene, OR – TBD
3/26: Boise, ID – Treefort Music Festival, w/ Lightning Bolt
4/15: Seattle, WA – Substation w/Spoonbenders and Monster Watch
5/28: Portland, OR – Lay Low Tavern, TBD
6/9: Seattle, WA – TBD w/The Builders and The Butchers
6/10: Portland, OR – Polaris Hall w/The Builders and The Butchers
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Hear Help on our playlists and on AMS Radio during Indie Anarchy timeslots