In the new music economy, it seems like having an Apple commercial is tantamount to having a hit single, which is why it was such a welcome surprise to hear the sweet pop sounds of Berkeley-based Honeycut in the new commercial for the iMac. This is a band that, since releasing their debut album The Day I Turned To Glass, has seemed one break away from successfully crossing over to mainstream success by excelling at writing synth- and sample-based instrumentals that ably compliment Bart Davenport’s smooth vocals.
The best part is that it all started on accident. Meeting through mutual friends, California natives Davenport and Tony Sevener joined Paris-born RV Salters and started working on some music together in Sevener’s home studio in 2003. With each of them having other successful projects, including Salters’ solo releases as General Elektriks and Davenport’s solo work, starting another band was not their intention. The guys soon realized that their unique sound, incorporating RV’s stellar keyboarding, Severner’s pioneering live MPC-created beats, and Davenport’s charismatic vocals, would propel this band to the next stage. Quannum Records realized the same thing, releasing their debut late last year.
Critics’ frequently compare Honeycut to Gnarls Barkley, focusing it seems on the general similarities both musical—the amalgam of hip-hop, pop and soul sounds both use—and biographical—the members’ involvement in other projects and the groups’ origins as studio experiments. While understandable, that comparison misses one of Honeycut’s greatest strengths, that for all of the electronic and synthesized elements, the group has become and truly feels like a real band, not just a singer and some backing tracks. It’s best experienced live, where Sevener plays the MPC to create beats and Salters demonstrates his scary-good work on the keys.
It’s a feeling also apparent on The Day I Turned To Glass, an album that isn’t just one good single and some filler (sorry Gnarls), but rather celebrates the band members’ love for good pop melodies and textured beats across a variety of genres and influences. It’s the sort of album that should and likely will appeal to a variety of listeners, as the two songs posted here indicate, there’s a universality to their songs without them feeling bland or cliche. If you’re around for their performance at the Treasure Island Festival today, you’re in for a treat.
Treasure Island Festival
Treasure Island San Francisco Saturday, Sept. 15th at 2:20PM
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