The legend of Helen Brown proceeds her production of this years’ Story of an Earth Girl EP. Rumored to have lost sight in one eye due to a baseball injury in her youth, and having been raised in a religious cult in Georgia, Helen has traveled the country as a nomadic hippy and even attempted a fruitless career in academia. Brown’s wonder lust let her fork singing escapades lead her into the lure of a swindling-fake shaman, the forming of her first band One Eyed Tramps, and self-inflicting knife wounds in-between fits of drug abuse and fainting spells onstage. Brown’s music is just as vulnerable and exuberant as her life. And similar to her life, her album eluded me for quite some time before I dug it out of the dusty, download archives and remembered to review it. Better late than never?
Her trippy, psychedelic folk-rock, grunge-grrl revival is inspiring. Her Patsy Cline moments collide with her Velvet Underground moments, while her 50’s pop explodes against her aggressive punk zeal. The zany, Story of an Earth Girl EP tells the story of a wandering woman looking for love in all the wrong places, including the many arms and many hands of a space creature. Her humor and light-lifting musical antics harp towards a time when high-flying voyages through space and time were a norm amongst the LSD rolling hipsters, all while continuing a simple and sincere trajectory. Like a more languorous, forthright and lewd Fiery Furnaces, their is no pretext to Brown’s voice or instrumentation. This album is a pure delight, as sophisticated as a spliff or joint after a Friday, tuna fish sandwich on stale bread. The crunch and rough-hewn fumes on tracks like the self-titled, “Story of an Earth Girl” please and ease.
Sunny and the Sunset’s very own Sonny Smith accompanies Brown on the album, as well as Heidi Alexander and Grace Cooper of (speaking of) Sandwiches. Not since Ann and Nancy WIlson have we heard such fluid yet course accompaniments. Among the ranks of this years very best Kids on a Crime Spree release, Brown’s opening “I Walked All Night” recalls the ever diligent cover, “Walking After Midnight” by Girl In a Coma. Brown effortlessly pushes along the hallucinatory larks of the Jacuzzi Boys. “Operation Self Destruct,” reminds of The Breeders. The Story of an Earth Girl pops with waxy recoil.