The title of this eighth album from Seattle’s Helvetia is a bit of a misnomer. It does, in fact, ramble, and that’s actually quite a bit of a compliment. Tucked within these 11 songs are fragments that stop and start, and there’s an approach to songwriting here that is akin to wandering across a meadow or field without much in the way of a guidebook to set you on your way. In short, Nothing in Rambling is an album in which you can get completely and utterly lost. Comprised largely of psychedelic rock gems that nestle into more folksy, acoustic territory, Nothing in Rambling does have a series of highlights, but none comes as high as the utterly captivating second track, “RyBro”, which sounds as though it came in from the ‘60s folk rock movement. It twists and turns, and has all of the effect of having a knife stuck into your brain, easily lodging itself there. Elsewhere, songs such as the acoustic “What You Wanted”, have the feeling of a well worn sweater, sounding a little bit like Lou Barlow’s quieter Sebadoh songs from the early ‘90s.
Indeed, there’s a certain laidback energy that is quite affecting, such as on the organ drenched “Wait”, which has a bit of a slacker, J Mascis cadence to it. Band leader Jason ALbertini even has a singing voice that’s similar to Doug Martsch’s – which is apropos as Helvetia has toured with Built to Spill. In fact, outside of the Nuggets-y opener “Pumpkin Rose”, which feels as though it has started in the middle of the piece, there’s a bevy of great, memorable songs to be found here: you may even find yourself clapping along with the giddy garage stomp of “The Thing”. Overall, Nothing in Rambling isn’t a perfect record, but when it hits, it’s very, very good, and worth searching for in all its nooks and crannies of melody that go straight to your cranium and attacks it with delicious, easy going vibes. As a musical journey, Nothing in Rambling is a largely unforgettable trip.
// Notes from the Road
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