This lyric from their song “Golden Virginia” is only one of the many reasons Los Angeles-based Trash Honey is my current sonic crush: “I’m sick and tired of working for nil / And my college education still can’t pay my bills / And I don’t know if it ever will…”
Finally! I’ve been waiting for a band to address the existential millennial crisis born of the Great Recession and maturated by student debt terror and Wall Street excesses. Maybe I’m reading too deeply into their words, but I’m probably not. Here are some more: “Now I’m officially broke / Tied up by ropes that I don’t think should even exist.” C’mon, that’s clearly frustration being vented at our faulty, corrupt financial system and how its seemingly invisible strings pull our hopes for decent-paying jobs away.
A mere reading of Trash Honey’s lyrics, however, don’t provide a picture of their sonic range. I haven’t even begun to mention the blissful three and sometimes four-part harmonies, the impeccable sense of song structure, the musical chemistry and cohesion that shines throughout their debut EP Absolutely. It’s a recording so good you can’t believe it’s a debut. Surely this is the work of veteran folk rockers, grizzled grand masters who have been perfecting the art of melody for years. Nope–this is merely the dawn of a new band’s bright career.
Absolutely is loaded with musical allusions ranging from the dark soul of Gram Parsons to the melodic sensibility of early career Elton John, the days when he was just a shy English lad pretending to be an Americana singer (take another listen to Tumbleweed Connection). And, of course, the inevitable reference to The Band is necessary when writing about any folk-tinged indie group these days. It is a valid reference in this case though, and drummer Carlo DiGregorio certainly plays like a man possessed by the spirit of Levon Helm. If you’d like some 21st century references, I’ll humor you: Wilco, early My Morning Jacket and Elliot Smith all quickly come to mind.
Though I’ve only highlighted one track so far, their EP does, indeed, have more than one set of thoughtful lyrics set to a gorgeous melody. I’d mention them all but I haven’t written a proper essay since college, and I have a feeling if I keep on writing, pretty soon I’ll start brainstorming thesis statements and a first draft outline and fretting about imaginary midterms and that girl in art history class who won’t return my texts…
Focus. Like any respectable folk music, there is a lot of darkness present in the sound of Trash Honey, but it is naturally curbed by a strand of hope. Just getting together with some friends and a bunch of acoustic guitars is a kind of rebellion against the oppressive nature of modern society, and the best folk artists know if you sing loud enough, with a real sense of pride in what you are doing, you can successfully stave off the worst the world has to offer. Trash Honey understands this fact. After all, in the words that close out their record, “Darkness only plays its part.”