Recently I found myself exposed, via the power of the internet, to a band. It’s a band who I couldn’t help but want to look into further and bring to your good selves in the hope that you will take from this review and go and find them for yourselves. That band, my friends, are called Mad Honey, a five-piece from Oklahoma City, who conjure up sounds and vibes the likes of which I haven’t experienced since the 1990s.
I was initially drawn in by a sound which I had recognised as being very shoegaze, with a little dream pop in the mix too. It caught my interest straight away, as usually If it’s shoegazy, I will want to explore deeper and see if it is in any way as rich and emotional as Slowdive. What I found was that my initial findings were very much only the tip of a vastly bigger entity, and as well as some Slowdive-esque nuances, it also felt like Slow Crush at times too.
After a few listens, I found myself drifting away from these comparisons, and more compelled to lean towards another band entirely. It is a band who were very active during the ‘90s, and even though long forgotten by most, for me, they are still as relevant as ever, and that band is Curve.
While not having all the high intensity elements that Curve have, there is a feel, a vibe to Mad Honey which really emanates with me those same warm emotions. Now, I imagine pretty much none of you reading this will remember Curve, but they were such a big part of my life, the fact that now, in 2023, ANY band sounds at all like Curve is something to be rejoiced over. Now, I’m not suggesting that Mad Honey set out to capture Curve’s vibe at all, but inadvertently if they have, this can only be seen as an incredibly good thing indeed.
So, moving swiftly on from my blatant Curve crush, let’s discuss the Mad Honey debut album Satellite Aphrodite. Its eleven tracks of pure alternative indie bliss, entwined with some dream pop shoegaze, which will leave you at peace with the world, and as zen as can be. It’s an airy affair for the most part, but in the best way possible.
Tracks such as album opener Tuffs Last Stand and Satellite Aphrodite, the album closer, have a cool chilled ambience to them, and on both tracks, there is a nice summer shoegaze feel. They do a sublime job of both starting and concluding the album off nicely. The gentle airy acoustic guitar, with a serene vocal accompaniment on Tuffs Last Stand sets the tone and mood, while the final track ties off proceedings with a nice, chilled climax.
Satellite Aphrodite houses everything I hold dear in music; soul, spirit, and vibe…
Throughout the rest of the album, each number pulls at those feelings of otherworldliness, and within the space of any of the tracks, you can jump from Curve to Slow Crush, and then to Slowdive within a heartbeat.
That being said, there are elements here which will have you drawing comparisons to Emma Ruth Rundle, and for me, that is especially true on Larkspur. It has a darker, more atmospheric vibe, and the transitions from high to low, nods towards that trademark Ruth Rundle sensibility. On instrumental sections, it really soars and is full of emotion.
Then there’s Eileen for instance which captures a different side of the band altogether. The otherworldly ambience feels like the more chilled side of Curve, with its sultry and distorted overtones. For me though, the real payoff is track two, Heavier Still, track eight, Psycho, and track ten, Concentration.
I think I’m drawn to Heavier Still and Psycho based on that Curve love, but also because here is a band who sound unlike anything else which is out right now. There is something very eclectic about it, but in such a warm fulfilling way. It is jingle jangly at times, but that’s no bad thing, in fact, I think it adds to the listening experience. It has a charm which seems to be missing with most music now. This is what I always loved about indie music, it wasn’t supposed to be for the masses, it felt like you had this unique thing all for yourself, and I get that with Mad Honey so much.
The mix of dreamy vocals over vibrant guitar driven fuzziness works so well, and truly encompasses everything that makes me feel like home. By parallel, Concentration really smacks at Slowdive, especially ‘new’ Slowdive. It’s mature, and shoegaze, and has an indie prog feel to it that is sublime. It rolls along effortlessly as if drifting on the wind, into explosions of expression, and for a band who are only now releasing a debut album, it feels wise beyond its years.
All in all, this long-player is everything to me. Satellite Aphrodite houses everything I hold dear in music; soul, spirit, and vibe, and at the end of the day, that’s all I want, peace in my soul…
Scribed by: Lee Beamish