As a new year begins everyone undoubtedly launches into the reflection period. No, I’m not talking about the Rob Gordon “What does it all mean?” reflection but the past year, history, friends, and where we’re headed.
The common thought is the desperate attempt to cling to something that was fantastic and hold it dearly close as some icon of memory. Well that’s all fine and dandy, but what about picking up the pace to head into 2015? You’re going to need something great to start off your year and I may have just found it.
Chicago crooners Honey & the 45s have taken their sound and left The Need in the dust. Not to downplay their previous release but the distance between these two albums is immediately noticeable. Their latest release, MAD, is all the glory of jazz at heart but has sass that will make you walk with a little swagger when listening.
The first four tracks set off to a decent pace, enough to at least have you seeing the vibrant marquees the quintet has graced. From the jaunting title track, to the addicting melodies of “Come Back,” to the spotlight jazz sound of “No Turn On Red” Kristina Cottone, Kim Kozel, Jarad Kleinstein, Jon Gould and Sean Tatum mix edgy jazz with strong bass licks and slick guitar licks while glazing it all in sensational vocals in a sound that is very hard to come by these days. But to me it is the last three tracks that elevate this jazz fusion style from good to “must experience.”
In a way that speaks fresh start and new beginnings, without sacrificing origins, it is “Skinlovin’,” which is humorous in name but hardly laughable in execution, “End of Love” as it drives a smoky sensual groove that will get your blood flowing, and “The Arrows,” a sensational end-of-the-show ballad of great strength, that singlehandedly make the record pop. There is exponential growth with this release, showcased best by the latter half, which is easy to miss because it is quite difficult to not be entranced in the unreal qualities of Honey & the 45s.
Nothing about the record speaks to studio recording or forced production. It is seemingly as natural as you could ever expect. In short, Honey & the 45s have succeeded on many levels with Mad. It opens its doors to a smoky joint where the lights are low, the stage is simple and the vibe is borderline legendary; and gracing the well-dressed patrons with their presence is a band that is doing great things. If they continue to produce even a percentage of the sound they achieved with Mad there is nothing that can hold this band back. I can’t think of a better record to kick of the year.
Greg is a regular contributor and co-founder at Nanobot.