by September Max
If you’ve browsed the Sunset on Central lineup, you may notice a somewhat familiar name - Honkonen: as in Matt Honkonen from “sexpop” duo Peak Physique, the alt-Americana act Llama Train, a stint with the Tim Lee 3, Tenderhooks, the mixing and mastering hub of Pitchwire, and mentoring or developing artists from his Tiny Treehouse studio. For now, Honkonen’s taken some time for himself and released a single which includes a rework of a piece off his 2013 Paper Wires album, “Dry Out”, and a b-side track called “Pushpin Clovers.”
“[I] knew the core was there, but couldn’t find the proper way to execute it. That’s why I revived it. It never felt truly completed until this release,” said Honkonen of “Dry Out.” The complete form is a baroque and lush arrangement with his voice as clear as in the original, more acoustic driven version, pulling the synth-soaked elements seen in his work with Peak Physique through a set of swelling and soaring vocals provided by Mike Agentis of Stars Regardless (who backs Honkonen in his live sets), Andrew Leahey of the eponymous Andrew Leahey and the Homestead, Brent Thompson, and Taylor Walters. The song, when compared to its predecessor, is less about the struggles of maturity but more wistful and a reminder to the listener, amplified through the sonic sea like a Grecian chorus, that “the sun beats down over the yard; everything dries out sometimes.”
The b-side of the single, “Pushpin Clovers,” starts in a way more familiar to long time fans of Honkonen’s work. “I like to leave the song in the hands of the listener. It’s not mine anymore, it means something to me, but I can’t tell you how to feel about it. I think that’s the beauty of it all, songs can uncover very different things in people.” This track starts with a “thank you” and the sound of applause before becoming sweetly melodic, melding the Honkonen of Take Me Home with the Honkonen of today locked into Ableton and pushing himself in a new direction, toying with loops and vocal effects. As the listener explores the landscape dotted in these pushpin clovers, a bit of shadow appears in the lyrics through the cheery and bright guitar and synths. The song lands feather soft at the end and feels like a summertime sunset, thematically joining it with “Dry Out”.
This release is available at Honkonen’s Bandcamp and prefaces an upcoming, untitled album set to release some time in the next few months. Honkonen will be closing the night on the Schulz Brau stage during Sunset on Central. You can catch him playing with Peak Physique at the Second Bell After Party on Saturday, August 18th, as well as on September 15th at Pilot Light with Dark Rooms.