Don't call it a comeback--Shahs has been here for years. Photo by Nikki Miller.
Tom Helgerson is certainly on a headlong sprint out of our fair state.
After just a couple months of fevered activity following a long remission, his brainchild Shahs has found its way onto just about every bill worth seeing in this town, most recently, and notably, last night's Times New Viking show at the 7th Street Entry.
And just days after countrymen Lookbook scored a favorable (well, largely) review on Pitchfork, Helgerson's "Pablo Picasso" got a mention and a streaming mp3 on the national tastebreaker website.
NOTE: Contrary to Pitchfork's statement, and to our earlier acceptance of it, "Pablo Picasso" is NOT a Modern Lovers cover. It's a bonafide Helgerson original.
Minneapolis' Shahs is mostly the project of Tom Helgerson, formerly of To Kill a Petty Bourgeoisie, and on his latest release, the GUTS EP, he channels the spirit of John Cale (who cut an EP of the same name, featuring a cover of the Modern Lovers' "Pablo Picasso"), though this version, with its looping guitars, found-sound samples, and clipped vocals bears more resemblance to, say Panda Bear, than Cale.We've been excited ever since Helgerson announced his return a few months ago. Hell, even before that. Shahs' previous incarnations included bands of various sizes and set-ups, but after a debut on the Minneapolis underground this summer, it became immediately clear that Helgerson's streamlined, solo approach was yielding music of far greater precision and derring-do.
Helgerson has refined his approach--now performing with only the aids of a loop pedal, a microphone, and a three octave keyboard, Helgerson turns simple melodies and into open-pit mines, which gape through his songs and offer up odd and precious ore. It's crude, it's raw, and it's built by hand, and, whether on wax or on-stage, it is jaw-droppingly beautiful.