Ryan Lizotte

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Last Active 02-24-14 6:41 pm
Joined 11-08-09

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08.29.14 HELMET's Betty - Ranked. 20 Years Later08.06.13 My Top Artists Of The Moment
09.07.10 What I Can't Stop Playing Nowadays.08.21.10 "bands" That Anger Me Due To Their Lack
08.19.10 Songs I Wish I Could Shred.08.19.10 Bands Which Lost Their Shit.
06.22.10 Albums Where I Never Skip A Song.06.22.10 Metalcore.

HELMET's Betty - Ranked. 20 Years Later.

New York City's HELMET may still be gigging with regular rfrequency, and Page Hamilton might still be as good as ever, but rthey have already made their mark in alternative music history with r"Meantime," "Aftertaste" and this delectable '90s gem, BETTY.

Speechless. So much in life leaves renders us speechless. When I heard the first rumblings of "Speechless," it reminded me of my favorite songs, my favorite bands... memories... Hamilton's vocals sound utterly human and hopeless. He sounds like someone that has little-to-no hope, reflecting and musing on a bittersweet relationship. "I'd blame someone, but I've got you/like everyday that bores me. Sleep fine and night and wake up to/my early Speechless morning." By far Page Hamilton's finest lyrics. The music though.... entirely different story. It's one of Helmet's most subdued songs, and I almost didn't "get it" at first. Then I heard the chorus transition into the most sinister sounding bridge I've ever heard in my life. Stanier and Bodgan ease back, Hamilton gears up to solo, and the the song explodes into a sludgy bridge. It all explodes at once, and it's glorious. You can almost hear Hamilton sneering through the microphone when the bridge's groove kicks into full stride... I've listened to music before, and this was the first time that music left me speechless. This song changed my life.

Man, the first time I heard this song was when I was obsessed with The Crow. I downloaded the soundtrack and heard this track. Almost ten years later, I rediscovered Helmet, and remembered the connection I had with this song; I vividly remembered hearing that deadly opening riff. After hearing "Milquetoast" again, almost a year ago, I realized it was no fluke. What else can be said? The heavy-a.f. riff, Stanier's tighest rhythms on the album, and that bridge.... my god, that bridge.... I realized that Helmet was going to be my favorite band after I heard the transition into the end of the song. Just the contrast between Hamilton's solo, Stanier's sinister backbeat, Bogdan's totally underrated basslines, and Echeverria's rhythm part in the final bridge... It's quite mesmerizing.
3Wilma's Rainbow

The single from the Helmet album that everyone slept on. "Wilma" is one of Helmet's loudest rocking tracks, grooves just as well as any other, and flows extremely nicely. Hamilton's guitar tone sets the course for the rest of the album, but the immediate standout in "Wilma" (the X-factor to the Helmet sound if you will) is John Stanier. He changes up the groove, layers the song with bass-drum and hi-hat rhythms, and fully enunciates his snare drum, making him one of the more unsung heroes in recent rock history, along with his band-mates.
4I Know

Hands down, "I Know" is the grooviest track on Betty. Following right after "Wilma," I Know kicks off with a classic Stanier beat, drags the listener in, and then crashes into one of the heaviest verses the '90s ever heard (or ignored). The song expands in true Helmet fashion, with a big-sounding bridge, variations on the lead riff, and then after an abrupt pause, drops into a patented Helmet "groovedown." Classy song from a band in top form.

If I could pick one track to describe Helmet: the band, it would be "Tic." Starts off with Stanier's patented groove, and then the bass and guitars crash in, giving the song a sinister layer of riffs. During the bridge, the rhythm section expands into an industrial sounding machine, and Hamilton's angular solos fill in the rest of the lines. One of the all-time greatest post-hardcore songs, as well as one of the best Helmet tracks. Nothing beats seeing the last few minutes of this song, as it was played live in the '90s, with some kick-ass improvisation from the boys.

The song on Betty that sold me. "Clean" represents Betty, plain and simple. The shorter, experimental nature of the track is reminiscent of "Rollo" and "Tic," but it swings as hard as any other Helmet track, and has the catchiest verse/chorus combination that Hamilton has ever penned. Rhythmically, it's simple, but it's a pretty jazzy track with a positive message.

It only gets harder from here on out. Vaccination is a fantastic song, and I wish I could put it higher. Behind the deceptively simple-sounding drumming, and groovy power chords, is one of Helmet's jazziest tunes ever recorded. The 7/4 bridge is groovier than almost anything on this album, and the song itself expands into a typical Helmet jam. Helmet's ability to take a simple riff and expand it into an entire composition is on full display here.
8Street Crab

"Street Crab" at #8 out of 16?! I could split hairs about Betty all day, but this is the most "normal" sounding Helmet track on the album, sounding more akin to Meantime than almost any other track. The problem is: just that. Very little different here. Bogdan's rumbling bass and Stanier's relaxed beat carry the entire song, but there's hardly any difference between the lead/rhythm guitar parts, and it's overall just a retreading of old (but damn good) water. "Street Crab" is a great song, rocks harder than anything else live, but stylistically, it's no different than their older efforts. Too bland, but definitely fits Betty.
9Biscuits for Smut

The song that took the longest to grow on me. "Biscuits" was in fact a single, and represented the fact that Helmet was willing to avoid the "one-trick pony" label, and was willing to branch out into looser, hip-hop inspired beats. Stanier holds this one down. Make sure to check out the delightfully '90s looking music video released for "Biscuits." In many ways it was Helmet's plateau.

The song that should've ended the album. Over a loose beat, Hamilton's vocals sound unforced, and the song ebbs and flows while bright images of the '90s flood my memory. One of the most naturally sounding Helmet tracks.

"Rollo" essentially represents the problem with Betty; the album will remain underrated because of Helmet's ability to write shorter, less-substantice songs, all held down completely by the Stanier/Bogdan rhythm section. "Rollo" is a solid track, featuring some of Stanier's best drumming, but it fails to make a grand impression, when compared to other tracks here.
12Beautiful Love

John Stanier has repeated numerous times that "Beautiful Love" was in fact a total inside joke with the band, and was meant to sound as cluttered as possible. That being said, it's a nice ode to the jazz standard, one which Hamilton & Co. obviously jived with.
13The Silver Hawaiian

Bassist, Henry Bogdan, takes the co-writing credit with this short, funk-influenced piece. Sounding more humorous than anything, The Silver Hawaiian is somewhat forgettable, and was left off the reissue of Betty.
14Sam Hell

With one of the more obscure album enders, Helmet ends Betty with a short, avant- garde cut. Nothing that memorable here, just an interesting piece of music.
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