Never End The Rocket Century

by Scott Helland Guitarmy of One



Scott Helland Guitarmy of One-ness: The word “acoustic” carries a set of assumptions and associations that Scott Helland has been defying throughout his career. As the punk half of the popular acoustic duo Frenchy and the Punk, Helland explores a fusion of hardcore urgency with gypsy and dark cabaret tonalities and theatricality. On his new true-solo release, Never End the Rocket Century, Helland discovers an entirely different way to flout the stereotypes of acoustic music. These 10 concise instrumental compositions find Helland stating memorable, multiculturally-sourced melodies on guitar over luminous, jangling and driving rhythm tracks (all performed by Helland). The effect is cinematic and starkly eloquent; stylish and utterly coherent song to song. Never End the Rocket Century defines its own genre, a musical “place” that can only be explained by examining the path of its maker.

An inveterate touring and recording musician with a background in punk but with the appetites of an would-be musicologist, Helland’s first high school band, Deep Wound, featured Dinosaur Jr.’s J. Mascis on drums, Sebadoh’s Lou Barlow on guitar, with Helland on bass. Helland still sits in with Dinosaur Jr. on occasion, reviving Deep Wound songs with his legendary band mate. Throughout the '80s and into the '90s, Helland played bass with the Western Massachusetts punk rock institution Outpatients, splitting east coast shows with Hüsker Dü, Black Flag, The Melvins and many others.

"In 1980, I heard the Ramones on the radio and became obsessed with music and with becoming a musician," Helland says. "I was drawn to punk immediately. Loud, fast, raw power, attitude; it was fun and exciting. Wearing my Ramones shirt or a Black Flag pin was like wearing a suit of armor to school." But before punk rock called, Helland's melodic sensitivities had been informed by music of a very different sort. "My parents took me to dozens of great jazz concerts: Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Woody Herman. On the stereo was a steady diet of Django and Joe Pass." Unstudied elements of exotic melody--part gypsy jazz, part Ennio Morricone, part Eastern European folk--weave through Helland's recent compositions, a secret ingredient that lends Never End the Rocket Century much of its otherworldly quality.

Never End the Rocket Century's title track demonstrates the wandering, referential tendencies of Helland's stylistically liberated voice. A Metallica-like opening arpeggio makes its way into Ranchero territory without ever losing focus. Those evocations of the southwestern border and the spaghetti western blossom vibrantly in "Best Western." The edgy and ominous lines of "If You Lived Here You'd Be Home by Now" speak to the stylized, retro-futuristic suggestions of the record's title. "The Spark (Bloke from Stoke)" brings riffing and spooky spy rock into the mix.

Intended as a collision of two classic records by the Ramones, the title Never End the Rocket Century speaks both to Helland’s playful stylistic shapeshifting and to his spirit of genuine, boundary-pushing adventure. It’s a kind of progressive punk, music that expands the territory of genre without ever losing touch with punk’s unfussy and propulsive values. Seldom is such experimental music this easy and fun to listen to.


released June 20, 2017


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Scott Helland Guitarmy of One New York, New York

Scott Helland Guitarmy of One: Helland is an American born musician, songwriter and artist. He has over 25 recordings out including 7 solo CDs and 5 CDs with his cabaret rock duo Frenchy and the Punk. In the `80s & `90s, Helland played bass with the Western MA hardcore punk bands Deep Wound, which included Dinosaur Jr's J Mascis and Lou Barlow, and Outpatients. FNP now tour year round. ... more

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