Review by Kenny Bieber

April 29, 2021

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Rock and roll as a genre has quite a varied definition these days, especially when one makes comparison to the staples from today’s current crop of talent. LA-based rock act Dirty Honey, who've opened for icons such as Guns N' Roses, have established a sound that’s steeped in vintage influences but with a contemporary flair all their own. Now the time has come and their debut self-titled record has arrived. Thankfully, it manages to not carry the burden of expectation and instead delivers an exhilarating, well-rounded and vibrant collection of songs with plenty of energy, swagger and craftsmanship to spare.

As a group, Dirty Honey tip their hats to the classics while still largely embodying a bombastic, euphoric and free-wheeling persona all their own. This shines through on early highlights like “California Dreaming,” a stomping and exuberant rocker with plenty of energizing riffs and a commanding performance by frontman Marc LaBelle (with traces of The Eagles, Zeppelin and Credence Clearwater woven in for good measure). The momentum the band establishes on the album rolls seamlessly through in “The Wire,” with its soaring hooks and riffs and bluesy combo of tracks. In “Tied Up” and “Take My Hand,” Dirty Honey showcases their knack for song craft with sharp hooks, exuberant songwriting and an organic lived-in chemistry as well. This sense of chemistry allows each member to play fluidly off one another and for the duration of the record, Dirty Honey demonstrates a consistently strong cohesion as a group.

On tracks such as “The Morning” and “No Warning,” the band’s innate chemistry breathes to life and their sonic scope expands with arrangements that feel grand and explosive, but also lush and organic at the same time. Credit to guitarist John Notto, bassist Justin Smolian and drummer Corey Coverstone who all add their distinct musicality to each track while effectively playing off of each of their respective strengths in the process. Production-wise, Dirty Honey manages to create space for each track to feel fresh while providing plenty of room for their edgy and robust instrumentation. Also, it’s a benefit that each track is concisely structured and paced to keep the flow of the album continually moving forward.


Ultimately, the most enjoyable aspect about Dirty Honey’s debut is how sincere their love for rock is and their apparent joy and passion toward performing. This lack of irony actually emerges as a selling point for the band, and while many rock groups can suffer when trying to emulate or pay tribute to classic acts, Dirty Honey manages to do so without resorting to over-the-top homage ... a noteworthy feat within itself. Also, frontman Marc LaBelle emerges as a dynamic and captivating talent whose energy, attitude and style is engaging and helps anchor the material with more than enough flair, charm and personality to spare.

As a debut record, Dirty Honey establishes itself as a refreshing, exciting and sincere showcase for the band’s gusto, charisma and respect for the genre while still maintaining a welcome modern sophistication. For fans of the genre and those looking to embrace the exciting potential of modern rock, this record is very much a welcome addition. So, rest assured, there ain’t no flies in this honey!

Top Tracks

 “The Wire”, “California Dreaming”, “Another Last Time”, “The Morning”, “No Warning”


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Kenny Bieber is a local music journalist and photographer who also highly values a good pun, quality milkshake and swears he doesn’t have too many records. He’s generally just happy to be here.


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