The Halo Benders are an indierock band that sprang up as a side project of Built to Spill; a collaboration between that band, Calvin Johnson {of K Records and Beat Happening, and Steve Fisk (a long time Seattle producer as well as a member of Pidgeonhed). While the lineup of Built to Spill continued to evolve, the Halo Benders didn't and the lineup for the band has consistently been Doug Martsch on guitar and vocals, Calvin Johnson on vocals, Steve Fisk on keyboards, Wayne Flower on bass, and Ralf Youtz on drums.

The band (when active) plays seriously catchy upbeat pop. Their sound is probably best described as a even mixture of Built to Spill, the Dub Narcotic Sound System, and Beat Happening, pulling from each of the bands, respectively, rock, groove, and pop influences. While the band clearly sounds most like Built to Spill, there is somewhat less of the classic rock sound and long guitar solos; the songs typically being shorter and more upbeat. Calvin's gravelly bass vioce and Doug's trebbly warble are a perfect counterpart, and the best soungs are the duets (some songs feature vocals exclusively by Calvin).

Opportunities to see the band are rare but worthwhile. It is unlikely that they will tour again in the future, but on several occasions Calvin has performed Halo Benders songs with Built to Spill. Built to Spill have also been known to perform several songs without Calvin (Scarin' and Virginia Reel Around the Fountain).

The band's best-known song is the unmistakable, bouncing Don't Touch My Bikini, which features classic surreal lyrics by Calvin and backing vocals by Doug. The song can be found on the God Don't Make No Junk LP as well as an import single on Fire Records (which has as a b-side a great rendition of the Smiths' Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want).

Noders interested in checking out the band (especially fans of any of Martsch or Johnson's other works) are highly encouraged to check out God Don't Make No Junk.


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