Last updated: 07/22/2002 09:54:34 PM
Adam Levy-lead vocals, guitar, keyboards
Noah Levy-drums & vocals
Trent Norton-bass & vocals
Brian Halverson-guitar & vocals
Jeff Victor-keyboards & vocals
Since forming nearly seven years ago, Honeydogs have delivered a combination of meaningful, unforgettable rock'n'roll tunes presented with passion and full of grace. With HERE'S LUCK, their label debut for Palm, The 'Dogs take a major step forward in their crusade to flesh out rock'n'roll's often-scrawny frame.
Like his heroes John Lennon and Ray Davies (and in keeping with current solid-senders Ron Sexsmith, Jules Shear and--especially--Elvis Costello), the band's songwriter Adam Levy is a pop formalist who borrows and adapts liberally from time-tested forms in multiple genres while indelibly stamping each song with a voice, world view and sense of irony all his own.
Levy's gift for creating memorable melodic constructs is sweeping, in fact; there isn't a tossed-off line or an easy rhyme to be found in the lot; Honeydogs' tunes are all meat--no filler.
Obsessed, bewildered and occasionally amused by the astonishing variety of things people do (himself included) to drive wedges between one another and make life so damned confounding, Adam's cogent observations are leavened by an endearing air of hopefulness and compassion.
From there, the Honeydogs (blessed with session-player-quality chops charged with the soulfulness of true believers plus the vocal pipes and instincts to perform harmonic alchemy) provide Levy's lovingly-wrought compositions with the perfect vehicle for first-class rock'n'roll delivery.
Trent Norton's fluid, melody-goosing bass and ace tub-thumper Noah Levy's explosive/sublime polyrhythmic assault had combined with Adam's six-string heroics for a world-class power trio; now, with the addition of razor-sharp guitarist Brian Halverson and totally-unhinged keyboardist Jeff Victor, the Honeydogs are a fully-loaded quintet with enough firepower to more than hold their own with anyone in rock's vanguard.
The proof lies in HERE'S LUCK, a brilliant, richly-textured opus which continues the Honeydogs' stylistic evolution even as Levy's songwriting perspective broadens and extends ever outward.
Direct and honest, Levy's plaintive voice is truly a thing of beauty, and never more so than on the eloquent, empathetic "Stonewall" and "Freakshow" which bookend HERE'S LUCK, or on the dynamic, soaring "Losing Transmissions."
Whether it's in the dense, majestic swells on "Pins In Dolls" and "The Crown," the chiming, infectious pop rave-ups on "Sour Grapes" and "Hearts And Heads," the bouncy, McCartney-esque music hall piano on "For The Tears," the stinging sitar overlay on the loose-limbed "Red Dye #40" (the latter two simultaneously dialing up the legendary NRBQ) or the exquisite string arrangement on the melancholy dreamscape of "Wilson Blvd.," the Honeydogs embrace the essence of majestic rock'n'roll with an urgency and enthusiasm reminiscent of, dare we say, The Beatles themselves.
Still, these nods occur naturally in the flow, emerging in the course of the music because they're a major, organic part of Adam's own personal musical development, and not as fashionable tack-ons. And if the Honeydogs' meticulous vocal harmonies also have a Liverpudlian bent, well, they sing this way because they can...
That the Honeydogs have attained such mastery will surely come as no surprise to those who've followed their career--they started out driven and have ridden an upward-bound artistic arc ever since.
The band jumped out of the gate with 1995's sturdy indie THE HONEYDOGS, then raised the bar immeasurably with the startlingly expansive, genre-busting EVERYTHING, I BET YOU the following year.
Thoroughly plugged-in to the common pulse that runs through all great rock'n'roll, the 'Dogs' Adam Levy trotted out a songwriter's tour-de-force that cut to the very heart of alt-rock, tender ballads, primal rock'n'roll and Merseybeat rave-ups, and the band drove them all the way home with winning exuberance.
This impressive versatility combined with jaw-dropping, ebullient live shows brought the major labels sniffing around, and the band eventually signed with Mercury Records' Debris imprint. 1997's SEEN A GHOST built and expanded upon EVERYTHING, I BET YOU's musical base, while Levy's wordsmithing continued to grow deeper, more focused.
Fueled by the shimmering, hook-laden pop of "Rumor Has It" and "Your Blue Door," SEEN A GHOST garnered initial airplay and critical hosannas, but while the band was extensively touring the U.S., Mercury dissolved Debris, leaving the 'Dogs without advance support.
Despite rumors of the upcoming buyout of Mercury's parent Polygram by Seagram's, the Honeydogs were given the go-ahead to re-enter the studio in the fall of 1998. Then, in the space of three traumatic weeks, the group parted ways with second guitarist Tommy Borscheid, and bassist Trent Norton stopped breathing due to an asthma attack, spending three days on life support.
Luckily, Norton made a miraculous recovery and was back up and playing just one week out of his near-death bed. Temporarily trimmed back to the band's founding trio of Norton, Adam and his brother Noah, the Honeydogs checked into Minneapolis' Seedy Underbelly Studio. At the helm was producer John Fields, who's applied his production, engineering and/or instrumental magic to such talents as Jack Logan, Evan and Jaron, Dovetail Joint, The Januaries and The Suburbs.
Adam, for his part, turned the potential disaster of a lost guitarist into a positive by pushing his already monstrous six-string abilities to new heights, even as he extended his command on an assortment of keyboards.
An intensive two-month siege in the studio yielded HERE'S LUCK.
That, more or less, brings you up to date. We're pretty sure that nary a band is better, smarter or more genuine band on the planet, so make room on your shelves, your playlists and in your hearts for 'em.
HERE'S LUCK to ya...
- Jim Musser, June 2000