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Honeycomb
     

Honeycomb

5.0 1
by Frank Black
 
After achieving unforeseen success by reconvening his legendary indie-rock band Pixies, Frank Black naturally did not take the next logical step (whatever that might be). Following his inner muse, he holed up in Nashville to connect with his inner crooner, and the result is this warm, soulful collection -- Black's first solo outing in nearly a

Overview

After achieving unforeseen success by reconvening his legendary indie-rock band Pixies, Frank Black naturally did not take the next logical step (whatever that might be). Following his inner muse, he holed up in Nashville to connect with his inner crooner, and the result is this warm, soulful collection -- Black's first solo outing in nearly a decade. Recorded virtually live in the studio over the course of a week, Honeycomb may well be the most guileless work in the singer's career. The burnished tone added by studio vets like Steve Cropper and Buddy Miller -- most notably on tracks like the whiskey-smooth "Another Velvet Nightmare" and the ever-so-slightly twangy "Atom in My Heart" -- has a lot to do with the disc's appeal, but Black deserves most of the credit himself. Dipping into a rarely tapped lower register that sometimes suggests Lou Reed, he makes his way through songs like the loping, life-affirming "I Burn Today" at a pace that's deliberate, but not morose. The tempo, replicating that of classic country-soul pioneers like Dan Penn -- whose "Dark End of the Street" gets a loving run-through here -- is more one of appreciation of life's little details, a reminder to stop and smell the roses, even, as on "Sunday Sunny Mill Valley Groove Day," when the sniffing turns up the scent of motor rather than flora. Like its title suggests, Honeycomb offers plenty of sweetness -- with a sting lurking just below the surface.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Heather Phares
Leave it to Frank Black to have his cake and eat it, too: by releasing Honeycomb, his Nashville-recorded collaboration with session legends including Steve Cropper, Anton Fig, and Spooner Oldham, while his reunion tour with the Pixies continued, he could follow his bliss and please his longtime fans. Those who thought Black's later work sounded like the output of a bad bar band probably won't get Honeycomb either, but at least the reunited Pixies should satisfy their longings to hear him shriek about surrealism and incest like he did in the good old days. On paper, Black might not seem like the likeliest fit with Cropper, Fig, et al., but the early-rock roots of the Pixies' mutated surf-punk-pop and the country and roots rock flirtations of his later career suggest otherwise (and "In the Midnight Hour," which Cropper co-wrote, was one of the first songs that Black ever played live). Honeycomb's songs feel tailored to the experience of recording with these musicians in this location, and have a sophistication that Black might not have been able to get with another group of players: the affably drunken "Another Velvet Nightmare" floats by on Oldham's elegantly wasted piano lines, and the band as a whole makes the cover of Dan Penn and Chips Moman's "Dark End of the Street" that much more soulful and genuine. Another cover, Doug Sahm's "Sunday Sunny Mill Valley Groove Day," pays tribute to one of the most prominent influences on Black's later post-Pixies work. Yet, despite the homages to his influences, the musicians playing with him, and the very town in which the album was recorded, Honeycomb is one of Black's most intimate collections of songs, and the closest he's come to a traditional singer/songwriter solo album. Even in this more straightforward territory, though, Black's imagery remains unique: "Selkie Bride" places the beguiling sea spirit of Orkney legend in modern times; the woman he's looking for in the title track has "cherry brown lips of maple"; and "Atom in My Heart" mixes straight-up country with science. Like Show Me Your Tears, Honeycomb is a remarkably personal album, and it's still a bit of a shock to hear one of alternative rock's most famously cryptic artists reveal so much about his life in his music. Black's songs are increasingly about coming to terms with life's realities and disappointments, but they end up feeling more liberating than depressing. "I Burn Today" and "Lone Child" carry on with the dancing-on-your-troubles approach of Show Me Your Tears. "Strange Goodbye," meanwhile, is a remarkably cheery postmortem of Black's marriage -- sung as a duet with his soon to be ex-wife, Jean -- that ends up being one of the highlights of his post-Pixies career. Considering that the album was recorded in just four days, Honeycomb is a remarkably strong album, and even on weaker tracks like "My Life Is in Storage," the playing on it always shines. Unlike some of his peers, not only is Frank Black still here, he's making music that isn't just a rehash of his salad days. With the therapy
oots rock of Show Me Your Tears, the disc of Pixies "covers" on Frank Black Francis, and this album, Black proves that he isn't just open to change in his solo work, he embraces it. Honeycomb is steeped in tradition, yet manages to buck it at the same time; while not all Pixies and Frank Black fans will appreciate its mellow maturity, it's an intimate treat for those who follow its lead.
Rolling Stone - Jason Fine
1/2 Black has phased out the music of disruption he made his name on... in favor of exquisitely focused guitar rock.
Entertainment Weekly - David Browne
Black's take on Southern soul: spare, graceful, in the pocket. (A)

Product Details

Release Date:
07/19/2005
Label:
Imports
UPC:
0724347729324
catalogNumber:
77293
Rank:
171616

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Frank Black   Primary Artist,Guitar,Vocals
Steve Cropper   Guitar
Chester Thompson   Drums
James Griffin   Vocals
Dan Penn   Vocals
Jeanette Wright Black   Vocals
Billy Block   Drums
Anton Fig   Drums
David Hood   Bass
Buddy Miller   Guitar
Spooner Oldham   Keyboards,Vocals,Bells
Jon Tiven   Harmonica
Reggie Young   Guitar
Akil Thompson   Drums
Ellis Hooks   Vocals
James Griffin   Vocals
Jean Black   Vocals

Technical Credits

Doug Sahm   Composer
Frank Black   Composer
Dan Penn   Composer,Engineer,Audio Production
Jeanette Wright Black   Duet
Chips Moman   Composer
Spooner Oldham   Audio Production
Sid Tepper   Composer
Jon Tiven   Producer,Audio Production
Reid Paley   Composer
Ben Mumphrey   Engineer
Nora Hagerty   Package Layout
Elizabeth Parr   Cover Art

Customer Reviews

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Honeycomb 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Teenager of the Year is one of my all time favorite albums, then I stopped listening to Frank after the Cult of Ray. Last year, I picked up Black Letter Days and Devils Workshop. Shortly thereafter I bought the rest of the Frank Black and the Catholics albums. Each one is a classic. I eagerly waited for Honeycomb and it was worth it. Although much more mellow than the rest of Frank's albums, by the 3rd listen I am able to say Frank has done it again!