It is a tremendous understatement to say that it is with grand excitement that Three Lobed Recordings is proud to announce the release of “Distillation” by D. Charles Speer & the Helix. For the last couple of years we have been continually excited by each of the fruits that have resulted from Speer/Helix collaboration. For our money, last year’s “After Hours” album was one of the best released by anyone. “Distillation” only ups the ante from that prior full length by elaborating upon some of the musical themes from the late 2008 “In Madagascar” 7”. The resulting album presents a tightly focused modern honky tonk quintet more than happy to blur the lines between country, psychedelia and the overall American musical tradition.
Consisting on this album of D. Charles Speer (aka Dave Shuford from the No Neck Blues Band and Enos Slaughter), Hans Chew (last seen providing some ripping piano accompaniment on “Fishtown Flower” from Jack Rose’s “The Black Dirt Sessions”), Marc Orleans (Enos Slaughter, Sunburned Hand of The Man), Jason Meagher (No Neck Blues Band, Coachfingers) and Rob Gregory (the Suntanama), the Helix are a seriously experienced and talented crew. “Distillation” was recorded over time between the winter and summer of 2008 at the band’s home away from home, Meagher’s Black Dirt Studios in Westtown, New York. Margot Bianca guests on backing vocals on a few of the album’s tracks.
The album starts off in monstrously infectious form with the leadoff track, “Mason Dixon Crime.” The track’s propulsive, rolling rhythm, dueling guitars and soaring chorus offer the perfect foil to Speer’s ever-present baritone vocals. To those new to the band, “Mason Dixon Crime” provides the perfect introduction to Speer’s captivating narrative gift. He is a singer who is capable of simultaneously spinning a masterful tale using a delivery that leaves the listener feeling like there is something hidden and secret being held just out of sight. Other prime examples of this gift are evident throughout “Open Season” and its soaring climax, the plaintive “Time Changes Things” and the swaggering album-closing “Shorty (A Bastard Cat).” While Speer’s vocal range is one of the band’s calling cards, the Helix also features the unique voice of Hans Chew’s blazing piano. While Chew aims for the fences throughout the rollicking “Hardwood Floors”, he really gets cut loose (and to spend some time on lead vocal duty) on the seriously jamming “Life Insurance.” One would be remiss to think that the Helix is a one (or two) voice affair though – it is a totally solid full ensemble presentation as is evidenced by the jaunty full band workouts presented within both the instrumental “Helical” and the rockin’, rollin’ and beer swillin’ “Gravedigger.”
“Distillation” is pressed on 180gram RTI vinyl and housed within an old-style Stoughton gatefoldsleeve bearing new artwork from both Turner Williams and the band. The album will be accompanied by a download coupon for high quality DRM-free MP3s of the album.
“Distillation” is limited to a one-time pressing of approximately 900 copies