Sweet, supple, and stylish; that's how we'd describe Los Angeles duo Honeyhoney
after Ben Jaffe, Suzanne Santo, and a few of their rough and tumble band mates stopped by our Launch Pad festivities last Spring. Cranking tunes from both their debut, First Rodeo
, as well as their most recent release, Billy Jack
, the band offered timeless slices of Western Americana, impeccably styled in hefty doses of dusty twang and unraveling romantic narratives that seemed to stretch far off into the sunburst, Texan horizon. Injecting a bit more grunge into their live performance than on record, the band's performance was certainly one the "wearers of the green" (Santo tipped her preverbial hat to the St. Patty's day enthusiasts in attendance) could get behind. Now it's your turn to spend some time with one of our favorite new bands.
Burlap and opals. Moonshine and macrobiotics. Shaken and soothed. How Suzanne Santo (vocals/banjo/violin) and Ben Jaffe (vocals/guitar) managed to reconcile not just polemics, but seemingly opposed realities for their sexually tinged, bruised knee honeysuckle take on roots music has to be heard to be understood.
Yet somehow the young 20-somethings figured out that its the extremes that define the middle, whether embracing the big mistakes in the bluesy smoulder Glad I Done What I Did, embracing the romantic doubt that is the low slung gospel of Dont Know How, or the euphoric romp-age of Lets Get Wrecked that embraces the arc debauchery completely. This is the sound of coming not of age, but awareness; and digging into what it means to be alive permeates throughout honeyhoneys October 24th release of Billy Jack on Lost Highway Records.
The album is made of a lot of stories, a lot of lives, Santo picks up. Were very different, but those differences are what makes it. Ive had a lot of different times in my personal life that kinda leveled me as a person. Thats why this record is the way it is. Its made of guts: whats happening on the inside, the notion of us being really independent, being on our own. Thats a big reality.
With fiddles threading the melodies, big acoustic guitar sounds and banjos plinking as percussively as melodically, there is an old world feel to honeyhoney that is as fresh and right now as it is tube radios and old lace.
And it is the disparity of how the two came up and came together that informs honeyhoney with their singularity of sound. Meandering through unique paths, converging in Los Angeles where everyone is chasing something, and finally recognizing the chemistry they shared is no mean feat.
Evoking Californias hippie Dust Bowl fringe, equal parts Okie squalor and Pacific shimmer, there is a strong pull of Woody Guthrie-esque folk, vintage Buffalo Springfield, glints of Gram Parsons and bits of Bonnie Raitts early blues, Rickie Lee Jones reality and Bakerfsfield Saturday nights. Not country, not folk, not rock, it is a hybrid that defies exact definition.
Still "Billy Jack" pumps with the thump of hearts on fire, levels with the pang of real instruments played like someone means it.
"If we want anything from these songs," adds Jaffe, "its to bring people into this music, to engage them.
Engage them they will. With the three-month long Ten Buck Tour with Joshua James kicking off on September 21st in Albuquerque, honeyhoney is ready to bring their new songs to the people who inspire them the most: their friends, peers and fans.
On the brink of truly coming into their own, they are ready for whatever the music brings