UNNATURAL HELPERS: WONDER YEARS EP
Wonder Years (The Lost First Recordings) EP
Over a half-decade, three albums and a bunch of 7”s, Unnatural Helpers evolved into a rock-solid punk band capable of playing jagged, noisy Northwest rock with nuance and groove and pop sensibility. But in their early days, the band—formed among employees of Sub Pop Records, most of whom now live in L.A.—was a pure bludgeoning instrument, and a powerful one at that. Evidence abounds on Wonder Years, a long lost document of Unnatural Helpers’ raw-nerve roots. Its eight tracks fly by in a total of just over 12 minutes, with most clocking in at 1 minute and 45 seconds or less. Each is a bracing blast of lo-fi savagery built out of spastic guitars, desperate yelps, gnarled howls and machine-gun drums that sound like they’re played by a hyperactive octopus. The aim is the same each time: get in, destroy everything, get out. And the variations are relatively minor: the stomping swaggering “Long List of Complaints” runs more or less on one three-note guitar riff, while “Angst” is a lurching bundle of guitar blasts and string-bends and “I Out” is defiant and driven by the rumbling bass. The band breaks things up with some jittery rhythms on “My Brother’s Been Kissin’ My Girlfriend” and “Rootin’ Around” feels slightly more developed than the other tracks, with a bit of a surf-rock vibe surfacing here and there. Wonder Years isn’t just a document of a bygone time in the life of a great band—it’s also proof that Unnatural Helpers could do a lot with very little.