Man, recessions suck. It’s all work, work, work. I’ve been woefully ignorant of all of these Internet happenings except perhaps Twitter because, y’know, that’s just quick random thoughts, right? But what we could really use in these lean times are free MP3 downloads. So god bless you for going strong with 3Hive, Sean and Joe and Clay, because there’s so much great music out there and, long hours be damned, we gots to share the sharing! Like Chicago’s Helicopters, a group that got its first major exposure by winning a battle of the bands contest that gave them a slot at Lollapalooza. And they didn’t stuff the ballot box, either. Like the Chicago Man of the Decade, Helicopters offer a complex yet accessible brand of hope that is a sea change from a cynicism that has prevailed for too long. It’s no small feat considering they have three primary songwriters. Such musical trinities can lead to a garbled mess of influences. And while you’ll get a smorgasbord on Sizing Up the Distance, from synthed new wave reduxes to driven guitar anthems to emo wails, there’s a common thread of pop craftsmanship that pulls it all together. These are some finely crafted gems, and at least one of them is free. The Spring thaw is upon us, and hopefully the financial thaw is about to follow – and with Helicopters, my thaw soundtrack is coming together nicely.