Toronto-based rock band The Honeyrunners has just released EP II, and it is the definitely worth a listen. The group has undeniable Motown influences, and paired with the rock and roll riffs and sincere vocals, the EP is a source of auditory delight. One word comes to mind when I listen to this EP – warm. These five songs are a splash of whiskey on the tongue, the heat of a bonfire on a brisk autumn night. The warmth emanating from this EP is no doubt a result of its bluesy, old school vibe, evoking a sense of the past while maintaining modern energy and addictive hooks. You can get up and dance or you can throw back a drink with your buddies, but this EP needs to be playing in the background.
The EP works well as a whole, each song in conversation with the others. There is never a dull moment – the EP knows just when to pick up, when to fade into a guitar riff, when to layer vocals. The Honeyrunners display expert understanding of continuity and variety, creating a project that is both cohesive and intriguing.
While I love the EP as a whole, I do have my favorite songs. Here’s my take on “Hold Me” and “River Song”:
This is the Motown/rock synthesis that everyone needs in his or her life. I don’t know if it’s my obsession with Scandal and ensuing exposure to funky R&B songs week in and week out, but I feel as though Motown is making its comeback and deservedly so – it’s simply fun to listen to. The underlying guitar riffs and drumbeats give this song remarkable soul. The lead singer croons, “hold me,” and the background singers deliver a smooth “ooo” that might just make you melt. About two minutes in the vocals fade away, and you’re met with a melodious guitar solo, suspending time and evoking the ethereal. You jump right back into the chorus, and then it’s over. You’re left in a sort of pleasant daze and perhaps a smile on your face.
This song allows the other band members to have their spotlight moment with vocals, and it’s pretty close to perfection. You’re not just met with one raspy, soulful voice but several. There’s depth and complexity and a great deal of layering that keeps you on your toes. While the Motown influence isn’t as overt in this song, instead transitioning to a light presence of funk in the background, you are enveloped by the rhythms of rock and roll and southern folk. The dropping away of all other sounds besides a pounding beat at the beginning and again about two minutes in creates an atmosphere of drama, an ideal backdrop for the before mentioned vocal variety. In the last few seconds of the song you can hear the band members laughing and clapping, and in that moment you feel like you’re there alongside of them, listening to great music and having a good time.
If you are in the market for a new Motown/rock and roll band, be sure to check out The Honeyrunners and give EP II a listen. It might just be what your music library is missing.
Allison Bohan is an associate editor at Gadfly Online. She is finishing up her fourth and final year as an undergraduate at the University of Virginia. Allison is an English major, coffee drinker, and avid nap taker.