Skullcrusher: Storm In Summer EP (Secretly Canadian) review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Saturday, June 15th, 2024  


Storm In Summer EP

Secretly Canadian

Apr 27, 2021 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Helen Ballentine’s recorded output as Skullcrusher has only been released into the midst of the current pandemic plaguing us all. So, forgive her for persisting in a mode of uncertainty and anxiousness brought on by a year’s plus worth of mind-numbing stasis. Though three of Storm In Summer’s songs are repetitive ruminations that seemingly leave as quickly as they come, they speak volumes to the current condition. Ballentine, along with several other artists in the past year have taken the path of Unmanifest Destiny, if you will, retreating from the West Coast, where dreams are made, back to more familiar and sometimes frustrating confines.

Working again with her partner, Noah Weinman (Runnner), the EP’s songs are wrapped in warm acoustic constructs, but convey something unsettling. In the opening “Windshield,” Ballentine repeats the phrase, “I thrust my foot through…” And though a figurative act is implied, the violence of what’s described is arresting in its frankness. It feels like a thought out of desperation for a change to the status quo. The shortest, and central song, “Steps,” seeks a similar resolution to act or not, to communicate or not, and yearns for the answer. Even the closing song, “Prefer,” with its understated synths and as lovely as it is, evidences an ache for something that is ultimately beyond asking for.

The more fully fleshed out “Song For Nick Drake” and the title song impart more lyrically, but maintain the same energy as the other tracks. “Song For Nick Drake” finds Ballentine in situations where making no connections around her, or being stood up at the train station, leaves her time to connect with her forebear. But “Storm In Summer” is the musical and artistic triumph of the bunch here. The most involved track Ballentine has composed to date, the underpinning of guitar and banjo is supplemented by intermittent drums and builds to an extended and hypnotic close. Ballentine laments, “I’m still lying on the floor, I’m right where I began,” but concludes with another figurative wish to be seen. Her insistence, through punctuated one-word declarations of not minding the storm, are later echoed by a wish to get things rolling. There is a glimpse of the bird outside the cage in the sumptuously filmed Yellow House Session that Ballentine and her crew debuted last fall. If that’s what Ballentine’s longed for start looks like, we’ve got to find a way to get there. (

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 3/10


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