Written by Juice on October 11, 2016
FFO: Codeine, Slint, Seahaven
As the nucleus and only permanent member of Helens throughout its history, Jordan Portlock has seen the Portland-based not-quite-shoegaze project evolve rapidly throughout it’s lifespan after its inception in 2013. Even from the beginning, Helens has always been in some fashion Portlock’s brainchild, as all of the other founding members were also dedicated to other other bands that ran the same DIY-circuit as Helens at the time (most notably Robot Boy, Sioux Falls, and later Dowager). After releasing the three song EP Teeth in the Summer of 2015, Helens’ mammoth-sounding blend of post-rock, shoegaze, and 90s alt-rock destroyed eardrums and left audiences begging for more, while the ever-mythical “full length” loomed on the horizon.
Since that time, however, the scene around Helens has changed. Bands have dissolved, people have moved away, people have moved back. Helens, which was originally a four-piece, is now an unassuming three-piece (featuring Solomon Nichols on drums and Gray Hunter on bass), but don’t let that fool you. Helens is still one of the loudest bands in Portland, albeit a band that channels their sound in different ways than before. “I don’t really think of myself as a musician. I make sounds and I write words” says Portlock. His laid-back, approachable demeanor to just about anything in life (including song-writing) can be deceiving and could be interpreted as naive or nihilistic, but Portlock is fully aware of how transparent, fleeting and fading the noise that has at swirled around the band can be. And once on stage, Helens effortlessly transforms into the sound of a human being observing the impenetrable void of sound around them and responding, “I exist”.
Make something pretty while you can, but why not make it both pretty and heavy?
- – Jordan Rasmussen