The Honeydogs Release the Best Local Album This Year

The Honeydogs could not have known, when they planned to release their tenth studio album, What Comes After, in stores on March 6, and in concert at First Avenue with Rogue Valley and Farewell Milwaukee on March 10, that the temperature in the Twin Cities would be approaching 60—the first blast of spring.

Yet it’s perfect timing: What Comes After is a hopeful, inspiring album, the kind you play with the windows open and plenty of room to shake a tail-feather. From the free-wheeling keyboards to the fulsome horns to the artful melodies that always seem to rise or fall at just the right moment in just the right, surprising way, it’s a powerful alchemy of pop, soul, and Americana, distilling 50 years of popular song into an argument for the humanity of pop—rock ’n’ roll as life force.

Honeydogs front man Adam Levy is a student of pop, from Motown to Laurel Canyon, Burt Bacharach to Brian Wilson to Elvis Costello. And with this album, he’s melded that heritage with his own instinct for music as funky palliative. He’s a lover not a fighter, and even in the darker moments of these 12 songs, you can feel that heartfelt embrace.

Take “Aubben,” the album’s first single. I don’t know Aubben, the “craven canary who makes all the hawks and doves sing,” but I bet she’s hot. Cool, too. She’s rock ’n’ roll. And with this song about her, Levy has written the pop gem he’s been polishing in his head for years. It’s an instant classic, what Costello might have written were he still heading the best pub-rock outfit in London; in a different world, it would be on the radio all over the country right now.

In fact, with this album, the Honeydogs make a strong case for the most enduring band to come out of Minneapolis in the last 25 years—certainly the most fun (sorry, ’Mats fans, a lot of those Replacements shows were more stupid than fun, and the Jayhawks, for all their gorgeous harmonies, don’t have nearly the catalog).

As it happens, the release party on Saturday will be a sober celebration (figuratively, not literally, I’m sure): Levy’s son, Daniel, committed suicide this winter after a long struggle with mental illness. Levy’s family has established the Daniel J. Levy Memorial Fund for mental-health research on depression and schizophrenia, and $1 from each ticket sold for the release show will go to the fund. There will also be boxes at First Avenue for further donations, or contributions can be sent to the Daniel J. Levy Memorial Fund, c/o Adam Levy, 2832 18th Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55407.

Until then, check out this very cool video just released for “Aubben”—a whole lot of “ass-shaking” as the video’s producer says, if one can say that about dancers from a long-ago World’s Fair—and be glad you have the Honeydogs to get you through the night.