Mope Like Me: Helen Stellar, “io (This Time Around)”
(With apologies to Ted, as there are no sob stories about failed relationships this week.)
Let it not be said that Cameron Crowe’s Elizabethtown was without its good points.
Actually, I shouldn’t say that. I never saw the movie – the trailer, lengthy running time, questionable casting of Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst, and ultimately the reviews were enough to scare me away – but the impression I get is that it was not good. Whatever the qualities of his movies, though, Crowe always made sure the soundtracks could stand on their own, and sure enough, the music he slipped into Elizabethtown contains his typical blend of Boomer acts (along with the obligatory slot for wife Nancy Wilson) mixed with the occasional offbeat number or deep cut. For me, the album came down to the letter H: “Jesus Was a Crossmaker” by the Hollies, “Let It All Hang Out” by the Hombres, and last but certainly not least, “io (This Time Around)” by Los Angeles space rockers Helen Stellar. Few songs have grabbed me at first listen, and held me, like this one did.
Listen to that echo-laden piano track: it positively reeks of sadness, yet the few words that the band sprinkles into the song are not sad ones. “This time around, you can be anyone / This love of ours…” On second thought, I’m not sure exactly what that means, and I’m sure that was the point. Each listener takes a different journey with a song like this. It may not even be to a fixed point in time; just somewhere…else. For me, it made me feel like I had left something, or someone, behind, and this song was my guide to find it. Or maybe something had left me behind. Either way, it fills me with an overwhelming sense of loneliness. Sweet, beautiful loneliness. And as Kurt Cobain once put it, sometimes I miss the comfort in being sad. This song does it for me every time.
You would have expected Helen Stellar’s appearance on the Elizabethtown soundtrack to have produced a little bit of buzz for the band, either in the form of a major-label deal or an appearance on another soundtrack. (“O.C.” music supervisor and Chop Shop Records founder Alexandra Patsavas is usually all over bands like this.) But so far, no such luck. Who knows, maybe they were offered a deal and turned it down; information on the band was not easy to find. Their MySpace page and official web site both sport a bio that was written before Elizabethtown was released, and there is no Wikipedia page dedicated to the band. That last part is what I find the most amusing. What band doesn’t have a Wikipedia page these days? Hell, the band Felony has a Wiki page. Remember Felony? Exactly. (Pssst: they sang the New Wave song “The Fanatic.”) Anyway, the recent comments on their MySpace page suggest that they’re gigging again and showcasing new material, so here’s hoping their big break comes sooner than later.