At last! Honey Clouds, an indie-rock four-piece full of familiar faces, emerged from their year-long gestation to play their first show.
A new band, and at a new venue to boot. Upstairs at the Empire turns out to be a great place to see a show. Beautiful, high, exposed ceilings but with low beams and strange dim sconces make the atmosphere of this second-floor stage kind of like an inverse basement party.
You’ll recognize singer/guitarist Trey Hughes and lead hatchet-man Ron Harrity from the dearly departed Harpswell Sound. This reincarnation is a welcome one. In his former band, Hughes used his jilted monotone with quiet humility, now evolved into a Pavement-esque breadth of expression, even reaching for the brazen heights of the Fall’s Mark E. Smith on Honey Clouds’ faster, poppier tunes.
Those songs are where Ron “Secret Weapon” Harrity shines as well. His exceptional guitar picking most often lives comfortably within a clean amplifier, but his array of pedals propels the pop gems into something more like Built to Spill’s far-flung moments. On “Spinning From Tops” he managed to take center stage without leaving the shadows during an insanely noisy solo. “Weathering” saw the band at their peak performance. Mandy Wheeler, last seen in Diamond Sharp, revealed polished bass guitar skills, proving her sabbatical from the stage was worth the time. Sean Wilkinson debuted with an easygoing light touch on the drums that pushed the songs to pop while leaving plenty of room for the guitars.
Honey Clouds play next on February 16 at SPACE Gallery with Company and Modern Syndrome.
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