There can be few tougher places to be than that of the tour support. Whilst being a local support band you can drag every friend, family member, and local music journalist along with you, when you’re a thousand miles from home, playing to an audience who have no idea who you are, it can surely be a very lonely place.
For the music fan too there’s few things more painful than a bad support band. Even champions of the new and upcoming, can when faced with a truly awful support band be prone to have a chat, check their phone every three seconds, or give up and go to the bar. If you’ve been to a few gigs, you’ll have seen the many types of support band you get. There’s the high-art concept ones, who try dreadfully hard to be different, but ultimately just sound like they don’t have a clue how to play whatever bonkers instrument they’ve gone for. There’s the group consisting of exclusively early twenties men, clad in leather jackets, who’s interest in music began and ended around the time of What’s The Story Morning Glory, or worse Be Here Now! Then finally there’s the most rare support band of all, the one that’s actually quite good, the one that in some way makes sense with the sound of the main act, without just being entirely in awe of the main act. This wonderfully rare thing is a true joy, the sort of things labels, promoters and most of all fans dream of.
So it is with great joy I can report to have seen this most rare of beasts a surprising amount lately! Seeing the likes of Horse Thief supporting Midlake, and this week Honeyblood supporting the incredibly brilliant Angel Olsen… well, I guess I’m just on a good run. All bodes well for East India Youth next week supporting Wild Beasts, oh, and there’s a little band called, I think it’s pronounced The National, and some country lady called Caitlin Rose supporting Neil Young…well I’m sure they’ll be just dreadful won’t they?!
Honeyblood are the duo of Stina Tweeddale and Shona McVicar.
Stina takes on the lead vocal duties, and adds some delightfully scuzzy guitar, whilst Shona sings backing vocals and smacks the drums. If you’re a fan of more people being involved, the bands last single was recorded by Rory Atwell, the former Test-Icicle, turned uber hip London producer du jour.
They’re from Glasgow, and are following what is becoming something of a Scottish tradition by ending up on a Brighton based record label.
The pair formed Honeyblood early in 2012. They self released a cassette single, Thrift Shop, (recorded in their own kitchen, which sounded a touch like it was largely recorded underneath the sink), and they’ve gone onto far grander things since. Now signed to Fat Cat Records (the aforementioned wonderful Brighton based full of Glaswegians record label) they released single Bud, and it’s B-side, Kissing On You, into the world last year. Two slabs of perfectly formed scuzzy-pop, that had one dreaming/remembering when Be Your Own Pet briefly burnt brightly. A debut album has been recorded over in Connecticut with stone-cold production legend Peter Katis and is set to land in the middle of July. They recently released the first fruits of that process in the teaser track Choker. The track, apparently based on a short story by Angela Carter entitled The Bloody Chamber, was really rather wonderful.
The duo make quite a racket for a two piece. Combining the scuzzy, surf-punk sounds of Best Coast with the beautiful vocal stylings of Emily Haines or Jenny Lewis, their’s is a scuzzy, melodic thing, bristling with energy and a hint of swagger. They also do a rather neat line in cutting put downs (“When will you just go?”/ “I Will Hate You Forever”) and teen-romance (“I don’t want to have to go on without you, but I have to”). There’s an honesty to the music they make that’s somewhat beguiling and as their label say they certainly posses “a lo-fi punky charm”. On top of that they’ve got hooks, a heck of a lot of very, very catchy hooks.
Lets face it putting a layer of scuzz onto pop songs about boys that have done you wrong isn’t exactly the most original idea ever. They’ll be too simplistic for some, and certainly a bit of variety in their song-writing wouldn’t go amiss. If you’re after a good regional accent from the girls you’re also looking in the wrong place, the vocals sound more West Coast America than West Central Lowlands. However with a producer as good as Peter Katis on board they’re doing an awful lot right. The songs are infectious and it’d take a pretty grumpy old cynic to not find any joy in their charming racket.
Honey Blood’s single Bud is out now on Fat Cat Records, a debut album follows on the 14th of July. They play The Great Escape in Brighton this May.