Song of the Day: Unnatural Helpers - Vox Humana

photo by Kelly O

photo by Kelly O

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday we offer songs by local artists. Today’s selection, featured on the Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “Vox Humana” by Unnatural Helpers from their 2010 album Cracked Love & Other Drugs on Hardly Art.

Unnatural Helpers - Vox Humana (MP3)

You may want to file the following sentence under goes without saying but I’m gonna go ahead and write it anyway: Seattle is unbeatable when it comes to music. In the three years following my relocation, I’ve discovered more homegrown sonic jaw-droppers than I could’ve ever imagined. LA? SF? NYC? Chicago, Omaha or North Cacalacca? Nah, no way ho-say -- I’ve been all over this fair country and to me it’s obvious. Gloomy skies and drizzly days, overgrown lawns and mountain ranges, hot coffee and cold beer -- well, these, my friend, are the true building blocks of a beautiful and diverse music scene. Don’t even step... you can’t beat us!

Ours is a scene that constantly surprises. One band that’s been kicking around the streets of Seattle for a while now, but only recently found its way to my ears, is Dean Whitmore’s (Intelligence, Welcome and Dipers) guitar laden garage-rock outfit Unnatural Helpers. While the band has gone through a myriad of personnel changes over the years, it seems that their debut LP, Cracked Love & Other Drugs, has solidified (at least for the moment) its core group players. And shocker, the players are all familiar faces from other Seattle bands you’ve known and possibly adored. Supplanting Whitmore’s percussion and singing -- guitar and backing vocal duties are for the most part handed over to Seattle punk vets Brian Standeford and Leo Gebhardt (The Catheters, Tall Birds and Idle Times). Rounding out the crew is none other than The Dutchess & the Duke’s (can anyone tell me why they spell duchess that way??) Kimberly Morrison on bass, keyboards and the occasional vocal track.

All these parts add up to a unique sound that is equal parts rock ‘n’ roll purity and punk rock ferocity. Whitmore’s gruff vocals sound like they’re coming from the mouth of a man beating the shit out of a drum kit. Phil Collins he is not. “Vox Humana” screams for its place in the garage rock pantheon with the kind of tightly wound guitar that would make wild Billy Childish weep salty tears joy into his over grown moustachio. Call me crazy but I’d say this crew is here to stay. [edit: oh, wait, Kimberly's already left and replaced by Andrew Sullivan!]

Unnatural Helpers recently performed live on KEXP. You can check out their performance here, and we’ve already shared the live videos here, but we’ll share one again below. Coming up, they will play their hometown as part the Capital Hill Block Party (on 7/23) & Bumbershoot Music and Arts Festival (on 9/5). Check their MySpace page for more.

See, doesn’t Seattle rule?

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