by Sherri Prunier
It’s a bold move to include a cover song on a new release, especially when the band you’re covering is Radiohead and the song is “True Love Waits” – yet the Pacific Northwest’s brazen and unsigned Echo Helstrom went for it. Not only did they succeed, but their song rivals the original. This is one of many revelations to be discovered on The Veil, the second album from this amazing band.
Echo Helstrom, who took their name from an early girlfriend of Bob Dylan, is comprised of a wealth of talented and well-trained performers. The band includes Ross Seligman on lead vocals and guitar, Will Amend on upright and electric bass, Alessandra Dinu on violin, and Randy Rollofson on drums. Each offers an integral strength, and together they’ve mastered a signature sound difficult to relate to anything else. They have the power to create a feeling of tension, of a dark and epic storm approaching, like in the tracks, "I Am Not a Murder" and the hypnotic "Davey Jones." So many unexpected and impressive moments arise: like in the last two minutes of the beautiful song "Veil," and the first few minutes of the harder hitting "Hungry Ghost." Everything from the instrumentation and production to the vocals and arrangements is professionally done.
There’s emotion in lyrics like “you beg for mercy / when I hold you down / it’s not your culture that holds us back this time,” and political tones to “grab your gun / the money men they need you now, you poor man’s son,” though it is the theme of desperation and need that seems to continually surface throughout, as well as a life/death motif that seems to tie into another constant of holding on versus letting go.
With so much to explore in this album it’s obvious a lot of personal experience and passion went into its creation.
For now, Echo Helstrom is Portland, Oregon’s best kept secret.