'Sing the Snow Away: The Chunklet Years': Honey Radar's compilation record is a nostalgic ride
With a slew of original tracks, a couple of lives, as well as The Fall and The Monkees covers, this release gives us some of the best of the band's '60s-style rock sound
Avant-pop band Honey Radar is all set to drop 'Sing the Snow Away: The Chunklet Years', a compilation of all of their Chunklet Industries material, on June 20.
Helmed by Jason Henn, Honey Radar is a Philadelphia-based band that has been defined as everything from alternative indie to psych-pop and avant-garde. Regardless of what you categorize their music as, however, they're an exceptional band with an equally remarkable sound. What's interesting about Honey Radar is that their sound isn't inherently new: you've got your recognizable riffs paired with pounding beats and catchy melodies to backdrop some relatable, straightforward lyrics.
Yet somehow, this band manages to bring these elements together in a way that evokes nostalgia and sounds fresh at the same time. And that's certainly saying something considering they have a penchant for consistently creating albums that are longer than the last one - with this compilation coming in with a whopping 28 tracks - yet you'll never find yourself bored or skipping songs to make it to the end. In an age of short attention spans and rabid distractions, that's quite the accomplishment.
Honey Radar got its start in Richmond, Indiana, with Henn recording his own music in his bedroom by himself starting about 2005. In no time, he started gaining comparisons to Guided by Voices due to shared Midwestern roots, British rock influences, way out lyrical forays, super-short songs and endless numbers of recordings. The releases kept coming once Henn relocated to Philadelphia and solidified a live band. There’s been a lot of movement in and out of the band, though, with no less than a dozen musicians listed in the compilation, which carries tunes as far back as the 'Giraffe' EP in late 2015.
At the beginning of their long and torrid love affair back in 2015, Chunklet challenged Honey Radar with one sentence: “Gimme nothing but jams." Henn and his band responded by turning in a steady stream of bedroom psych-pop brilliance. 'Sing the Snow Away: The Chunklet Years' is a diary of how a band went from a one-man recording project into the more sophisticated (yet still home recorded) band you hear on their more recent work. Three proper singles, a smattering of split singles, and some bonus tracks constitute this compilation release, including covers of The Fall's 'Middle Class Revolt' as well as Honey Radar's more recent take on one of the more obscure The Monkees tracks, 'Wind-Up Man'.
Regarding how the cover came to fruition, Henn states, "The Monkees were the first group I was obsessed with when I was a little kid. They had a bizarre TV special in 1969 after their show was canceled called '33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee'. It's almost unwatchable, worse than Magical Mystery Tour, but has some songs in it that I like, and 'Wind-up Man' always sounded to me like it would make a good straight-forward rock song."
"I wanted to record it for years, and we played it live for a while in 2015 and 2016. When Henry asked us to do a split single, he explained that his side would be an impression of the band Slint, which--spoiler alert--is just three minutes of awkward silence. Apparently, there were some very long pauses between songs in their set at Primavera, and this was Henry's sort of Andy Kaufman take on it. We figured we should also do a cover for our side, and 'Wind-up Man' was one we had down and could churn out pretty easily. The handful of times we played it, someone would usually ask about it afterward. One of our friends asked if it was a Wipers cover. I'm glad we were able to make it sound raw enough to get that reaction."
While the covers are certainly an amazing addition to Honey Radar's catalog, their originals and lives on this record are really the highlights. Right from opener 'Lilac Pharmacy' to closing track 'Prole Art Threat', a live version performed at H2O50 in Athens back in 2018, this is an album filled with some classic rock that'll make you feel like someone just turned on a radio in the '60s. Henn's more lo-fi indie rock leads the album in, but by the time you've halfway through, you're riding high on some good 'ol rock 'n' roll. And where most albums might think to wind down with softer tracks following a high, Honey Radar decides instead to pick up the pace even more with a few mid-tempo tracks as well as some pulsating hard-hitting ones.
Mastered by Drew Crumbaugh with artwork constructed by Jason and Chunklet, this compilation is an ode to both Honey Radar's remarkable sound and journey thus far as well as their ongoing love affair with Chunklet.