Honey – Lovely

Today’s album is kind of a unique one, in that I have owned it and listened to it for many, many years, yet it does not exist.

Of course, it exists to the extent that it is a CD and you can listen to it and it is music, but it’s apparently so rare that neither Google, Wikipedia, or even Amazon have ever heard of it, so good luck finding it to purchase and listen to. Today we’re talking about the elusive and mysterious band Honey and their debut CD, Lovely:

If it does exist, you ask, then how do you have a downloaded album cover image Mr. Smarty-pants? To which my answer is, up yoursOf course, with a name like “Honey” and an album called Lovely, you should know what to expect from this album. That’s right, dark, dreary, sharp-edged alternative rock. On top of that, these guys are a “Christian” rock band and this album was released in 1997, which as you may know, was a very good year for Christian music. Need I say more?

Well, the word count on this writeup so far says I do, so I shall embellish a little, even if you’re never going to hear this band.

On top of being unpopular, the band is shrouded in mystery partially because they intended to be. There’s only one blurry black and white photo (mostly black) in the album’s liner notes somewhere, they didn’t seem to put out any videos, and the lyrics never even hint that these guys are trying to say anything, much less anything Christian. Yes, it seems that, for this debut album, these guys are a vaguely spiritual dark band with an emphasis on the word “vague”.

Of course, when you’ve got song titles like “Still”, “Mist”, “Worn”, “Same Girl”, and “No, Nine” (which is track 4, the sneaky devils), there’s not really a lot that you want to know about the songs’ meaning. So all we have are the tunes to go by, so it probably relieves you to know that this album, without an exception, is a crazy catchy thing, just full of good, if not cheaply produced, sounds.

The guitars are mainly surfer-reverbed or searingly high-pitched distortion. There’s hardly a “metal” moment in this album, no matter how rockin’ some of the portions are. The vocals wouldn’t allow it anyway, whoever is behind the microphone in this album has a smooth, effervescent voice that somehow combines clarity of tone with such muddled delivery that I defy you to pick out what he’s saying at any point. That is no small feat for an American singer, though British singers all seem to have un-enunciated singing down to an art.

Back when I owned this album on cassette tape (yes I own this album in two different medias, neither of which is the coveted vinyl), I used to listen to it while making futile attempts to sleep at a reasonable hour. For this reason, listening to the album still makes me a little sleepy, at least until I get to the afore-mentioned track 4, “No, Nine” (which could just as easily be No. Nine, it’s hard to read the liner notes and the internet, of course, is no help). Remember when I mentioned screechy guitars? This particular track features a guitar feeding back in a tone that could be physically painful to listen to if my hearing wasn’t so dull bookending it. This song also contains one of the very few attempts at gruffer vocals, but it doesn’t really take, I don’t think.

Though I consider this entire album to be excellent and blurry all throughout, I think the last half of the album contains the album’s best moments. Interestingly, however, the first song on either half of the album (well, track 1 and track 6 out of 10, I don’t remember the actual cassette’s side placement) sound eerily similar, but the songs that follow each are pretty different.

“Side B”, if that’s what it should be called, has some really solid melodies. The song “My Brian”, for instance, has an unforgettable chorus that is raised an octave for the second repetition, which is a good way to make a chorus memorable I suppose. It’s followed, without a pause, by “Evergreen”, which is a really ambient, chilled-out song that not only has a really cool bass-line all throughout, but almost seems to have a metaphorical point! Here are some of the words:

You stayed alive when all were dead
Not swayed at all by surrounding red
By surrounding red

You showed me five, you showed me two
Both and red and white reflecting you
Have you seen my evergreen?

See? Perfect sense.

The song “Worn” is the only song that I’m not impressed with, and since it occurs on the second side of the album, I guess I should retract my statement about the B side being much stronger than the A side. Still, I’m not actually going to do that because it will mean coming up with an even wordier hypothesis, so instead you’re just going to have to bear with me as I go into my favorite song on the album.

Yep, it’s called “Blinder” and it’s right on the tail-end of the album. It doesn’t make a lick of sense, but it’s got a great chord progression, perhaps sub-standard vocals for what the album had established so far, but the haunting electric guitars and effects and things just make it so cool, and at the end, just when you think the song is over, it has this really cool rockout portion where not only is the beat going backwards, but a lot of stuff that isn’t backwards is added in and it’s just all crazy and awesome.

Yeesh, writing stuff like that makes me glad I’m not getting paid for it.

Anyway, I still find this phenomenon kind of strange. I have never seen a band not have any kind of internet existence, even though this band broke up over 10 years ago and were on the tiny, tiny Sublime label (where once-considered obscure band Kosmos Express hailed) , but this album is so good, I figured somebody would want to write about it.

Oh well. I will mention one more thing about Honey before saying good day, they came out with a follow-up album, apparently in response to possible criticism about the last album being vague and the band photos being dark and blurry. The second album is mainly acoustic, really, REALLY praise & worship type of music, and a crystal clear photo of the band, a bunch of goofy looking dudes (and one of their girlfriends) wearing all black and leather. It was about the worst case of deflating something cool that I’ve ever seen. If THAT album still existed, I would talk about it as well, until then, enjoy pretending this writeup never happened! I know I will!

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6 Responses

  1. Wow, thanks for the write-up. I was just Googling this band and they really don’t exist on the internet! I bought this album in high school along with most of the rest of the original Sub Lime releases, because I thought they were a cool label. I don’t know, I was a young teen okay.

    Anyway, I don’t think at the time I appreciated how cool this album is. And is it just me or does the lead singer sound A LOT like the guy from Poor Old Lu?

  2. Hey, this is a really cool review. my dad (paul lagestee) was the bass player for Honey. I showed him this article and he really appreciates it! thanks!

    • Thanks Leah! It’s always a joy mixed with embarrassment for me when someone affiliated closely with the album or artist that made it leaves a comment. Even though I may be poking a lot of fun at this album, that’s more-or-less my style (and the rapid pace at which I wrote all these makes it even harder to be tactful). If you get a chance and have read this reply, please let your dad know that, as a fellow bassist, I have been inspired more than once by his work on this album, and thanks again for the kind words!

  3. I was just ripping a bunch of old, old CDs onto my computer, and I came across this album. I had forgotten about it completely, but I remembered how much I used to love it when I was a young teen and just discovering actually-good music.

    So of course I had to Google them, and was astonished to find absolutely nothing until I came across your album review. Thanks for reassuring me that the band is actually real. šŸ™‚

  4. Thanks for posting this! Could you please give me the rest of the lyrics for Evergreen? I just have the song from a Sub Lime sampler. Would love to be able to find the rest of the album one day

  5. […] or Newsboys, who were HUGE at the time, but also super obscure stuff that, upon writing about it on this blog, I find that I’m literally the only source for (somewhat unreliable) […]

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