Here’s an early favorite for album of the year. And what’s odd is, lyrically, I have very little interest. It’s set up as a sort of rock-and-roll opera that covers 10,000 years of ethnic fighting, and the life of a test-tube baby. Yes, it’s a science fiction concept that interests me not even a little. But the music is magical.
The Honeydogs have been around a few years now, but I don’t recall them being this ambitious. Noah and Adam Levy were members of a Twin Cities band called the Picadors, but again, I don’t recall it being this wide in scope. Needless to say, I’ve an ordered the other two Honeydog records.
Musically, the Beatles are a good place to start if you’re going to point to influences. There are swirling guitar parts and vocals that call to mind Sgt. Pepper-era Fab Four. Guitars sound like they’re possessed by the fingers of George Harrison. There are Middle East and Indian hints in the music that add to, but never overpower, the rest of the song. The piano sound on many of the tunes is extremely Beatle-esque. Things are layered beautifully; guitars, strings, piano… everything sounds incredible together. It’s aural heaven.
That said, there’s a lot more here, too. The German cabaret sound of “Were the Heavens Standing Blindly” is a perfect complement to the sound of the rest of the record. Things end on a Brazilian note with some really nice acoustic and electric guitar on “23rd Chromosome.” Adam Levy’s vocals also have a great sound. They are, except on the aforementioned times when there are effects, very dry. It’s a sound that harkens back to the ’70s. I’m assuming some of the credit for the sound must go to co-producer John Fields.
I said earlier the lyrics weren’t a big concern here for me, but some of the songs work great outside the scope of the story. “Panhandler’s Serenade” is an incredible song, with a sound and a lyric that would make it a huge hit on most any radio station. The wordplay is very nice and fits the layered music perfectly. Same for “Ms. Anne Thrope” (get it?).
I admit to being firmly in love with just the sound of this record. I’d be extremely surprised if anything comes along this year that sounds this good.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s July ’04 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.