Listen to Dave Helgi Johan’s blissful debut studio album ‘Drumheller’

Dave Helgi Johan flits from shoegaze love songs to doo-wop harmonies on blissful debut studio album Drumheller

Dave Helgi Johan has released his debut studio album Drumheller. The nine-track project landed in November, with a sonic palette as expansive as Johan’s prior music portfolio. Originally from Canada but since relocated to Byron Bay, Johan’s catalogue has been in the works since 2019, when he first moved to the city to actively pursue his sound. The pursuit, as Drumheller proves, was undeniably successful, with a body of work that forefronts Johan’s distinct vocals while showcasing his deft instrumentalism. 

This album has been a process with some road blocks along the way and without a doubt a labour of love,” Johan said. The fruits of Johan’s labour are immediately clear on Drumheller opener Fair-Weather Friend, which sees the singer muse on fading friendships atop atmospheric production and a harmonica-laden hook. Meanwhile, on Drumheller single Only A Week, Johan reflects on a short-lived romance with doo-wop harmonies and blissful guitar strums. 

Dave Helgi Johan press picture
Credit: T. Hogan Photography

This is one of my favourite songs I have written,” Johan said of Only A Week. I like the words and really enjoy performing it live.” The concept of love is elsewhere explored within the shoegaze bliss that is Firefly, which Johan describes as “one of the first love songs I’ve written” and typifies Drumheller’s wistful sonic direction. Johan ups the tempo on album closer Take Me For All My Money, with its middle finger to exploitative friendships amplified by choral clicks and punchy vocals. 

Since launching his music project in 2019, Johan has served as the support act for the likes of Mac DeMarco, Kim Churchill and The Mowgli’s, and has performed at a string of festivals including Canadian Music Week, Winnipeg Folk Festival, Byron Bay Surf Festival. Drumheller — equal parts blissful and searing — serves as a worthy culmination of Johan’s dedication, with no plans of slowing down. 

Johan plans on recording a follow-up to Drumheller this year, with a sophomore full-length slated for 2024. Elsewhere, he’ll perform at a slew of festival gigs, and intends to create a short documentary about life on the road.

Listen to Dave Helgi Johan’s Drumheller above, and keep an eye out for future pieces about the musician on Happy Mag soon.