The Honeydogs - What Comes After Review
Posted by C.A. Bell on 04.04.2012
After decades in the industry, The Honeydogs have returned with new material. This power pop/alternative country group has been compared to Wilco, The Smithereens, and Big Star. Can 411's Chris Bell find something unique in their sound?
Release Date: March 6, 2012 Running Time: 45:14 Label: Grain Belt Records Genre: Alternative Country-Rock, Singer-Songwriter Key Tracks:
"Broke It, Buy It"
"What Comes After"
"Death By Boredom"
With their tenth studio LP (and first since 2006), The Honeydogs have returned with an impressively strong collection of material and an execution belying a group that knows exactly how to play as a unit. Frontman and songwriter Adam Levy utilizes unique turns of phrase, welcoming sense of humor, and an earnestness that make his songs truly unique and enjoyable. For those of you that aren't familiar with my reviews, 'earnest' means it's damn good. Couple that with catchy hooks and well-honed country grooves, and you've got yourself the makings of one memorable record.
The music on What Comes After walks the line between Americana and power pop, held together by the excellent arrangements and great lyrics from Levy. While the opening track, "Particles or Waves", will probably draw some comparisons to jam rockers Widespread Panic, there are little other indications that this group has any interest in forty minute meandering solos. These songs are tight and efficient. So much so that I have to wonder about the band's claim that the album was recorded in a mere five days. But, this is what you should probably expect from a group that has been making music together for the better part of two decades. You can hear references to the Beatles/Paul McCartney in tracks like "Broke It, Buy It" and "Devil We Do". You can also find the occasional nod to Nick Lowe ("Aubben"), Bob Dylan ("Always A Long Time"), and the obligatory Big Star reference ("Blood Is Blood"). That being said, The Honeydogs really do have a delivery all their own. I consider no overt reference an affront to one's art, just so long as you don't become beholden to your heroes. It strikes me that Levy has long since shaken any vestiges of that sort of worship. Instead, he's using time-tested tropes to express his own ideas. The result is a batch of songs that are warm and comfortable, like first hitting that couch after work. For my money, the best track here is "Death By Boredom". The sans-bravado form of rock the guys provide here has me in love with the track on first listen. This is the kind of song that I wish more people would write. Levy isn't trying to make us do any work to love this music. He and his bandmates are good enough to make it easy for us. Jeff Tweedy might want to take a note or two.
There are some slight portions of the album on tracks like "Fighting Weight". The groove here is just a little too subtle for my taste. That being said, What Comes After is pretty much all I could ask for. These gents aren't afraid to put their music on display. There aren't a lot of studio effects or negative space tricks to hide the songs. The truth is that The Honeydogs don't need them. These songs do plenty of talking on their own. Thank you boys, this time the pleasure was all mine.
The 411: I've immediately fallen in love with this record. The Honeydogs do something that not many in the indie scene bother to try anymore; try to make something fun for the listener AND artistically interesting. They succeeded on both counts. I don't know about what comes after, but the during is very nice indeed.