December 06, 2003

Entrance "Honey Moan"

Honey Moan Guy Blakeslee's (AKA Entrance) latest album, would normally piss me off. In my mind, there's absolutely nothing worse in the world than some hip indie rock musician co-opting a musical style and making an ironic statement--"look, dude, I'm playing country!" was a particuarly irksome style in the late 90s, and I'm automatically suspicious about any artist who makes a record that's rootsy. Thus, Honey Moan is a record that, on paper, had two strikes and three balls against it. A indie-rocker playing the blues? Oh, please.

It's not right for a writer to be predisposed to prejudice against a record from the get-go, but there I was, all prepared to just utterly hate Entrance. I never cared much for The Convocation Of.., but I could at least give Guy the time of day in a new group, even if he had a lot to prove to me. So I sat there, listening, and then I heard it. I heard the one thing that made me realize that he had not succumbed to hipster irony, that Honey Moan was to be taken somewhat seriously. It was something I didn't expect to hear on a record such as this; it was certainly a pleasant surprise, and, to be honest, I was quite happy to hear it.

An instrumental.

See, many of the pseudo folk/country/blues records are caught up in presenting this image, this "ooooh my baby left me, the land is hard, and i am growing harder if i don't die first" bit, and I don't like that one bit. But when I heard the instrumental "Can't Stop The Winter," I realized that Guy wasn't trying to be overly ironic or impressive. A lot of those hipster blues cats, they're just about replicating the words of the blues without actually feeling the blues. It takes a bit of dedication to actually make an instrumental, and he's included a few on Honey Moan. So now I know he's sincere. (Sorry for doubting you, buddy.)

Once you get past the feeling that someone's being ironic, you'll see that Honey Moan is one nice little record. Most of his songs on here are covers (Robert Johnson's "Come On In My Kitchen"), based on other blues numbers, or are based on traditional songs. His originals are based on blues numbers, too, and he's nice enough to reference where he got his inspiration from. (Once again, this is something your hipster type would NEVER admit to.) My favorite of the bunch is the final "Sunrise In Belfast/Sunset in Christiania," which is a blending of the blues with modern psych-rock, and it sounds really, really good.

So Entrance has released a wonderful record that's both all original and a full-on tribute to the Year Of The Blues. Good for him! He's keeping the tradition alive, and Honey Moan is a wonderful little collection of songs. I'm interested in seeing how he applies these principles and ideas to his own original compositions, because I have a feeling that the results will be most interesting.

--Joseph Kyle

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