When last we left Dirty Honey, they were making waves with their impressive first EP in 2019. There could have been a Dirty Honey tour last year after their numerous high-profile support slots, but well…. you already know, let’s continue. What we did get in 2020 was a live cover of Aerosmith’s “Last Child” at RCA Studios, a sufficient stopgap that more than likely turned a few 20-somethings onto Rocks. Now in ’21 we finally get the L.A quartet’s eponymous (not to mention self-released) debut, positioning Dirty Honey as one of the premier unsigned rock acts and, if they stay independent, one of an increasing number that forgo the road-to-rockstardom industry mythos that has disintegrated over the last 20 years and blaze an autonomous new path.
So how about the tunes? After their “Last Child” cover it’s impossible to unhear the huge ‘Smith influence in Dirty’s catalog now, and anyone who says track (and single) numero uno “California Dreamin’” doesn’t give them “Back In The Saddle” vibes is either musically unstudied or simply a liar. The punchy AC/DC staccato chords of “The Wire” add extra colour to the sandy, sunny SoCal picture they’ve set out to paint, while “Tied Up” could be described either as the “Love In An Elevator” solo dragged out to 3 and a half minutes with backup singers thrown in or a highly improved version of “Rollin’ 7’s”. Much like “The Wire”, “Take My Hand” runs off of an infectious groove and an amped-up sound that could best be described as Soundgarden Van Fleet- not to take anything away from Dirty with the numerous comparisons, if anything the parallels are a positive thing to point out and give you a better understanding and appreciation of where they’re coming from and they might head.
With “Gypsy” it’s clear you can take the band out of Los Angeles but not the other way around; Appetite For Destruction comes to mind while listening to this cut (“Think About You”, “Mr. Brownstone”, “It’s So Easy”), as does Ratt’s Dancing Undercover (“Slip Of The Lip”, “Looking For Love”). “No Warning” is essentially “When I’m Gone” 2.0, thus why it sounds like a tune that could’ve been on the 2019 EP but hit the cutting room floor instead (or maybe they just wrote it after). “The Morning” mixes the AC/DC vibes of “The Wire” with the approach of “Rollin’ 7’s” and “Break You”, revealing an area for growth to make the songs more discernible over time; still, this is just album #1. “Down The Road” gets resurrected with a Hendrixian flare on “Another Last Time”, a fitting, obligatory chill tune to close things out with. The backup vocalists are a fantastic touch too, a sign of sonic expansion since last time and a piece of rock and music in general that will always be timeless.
With the release of their debut album, Dirty Honey now has a full foot in the door and has already shown a great amount of development from their 2019 EP. Although some of the tracks sound repetitive, they have a clear mould that sounds more and more evolved and complete each time and makes their throwback style sound more and more current. The greatest outcome of their trajectory would be for them to be able to convey that traditional spirit of rock as they do and twist and build it to the point where you couldn’t say it sounds old or anachronistic but indeed current, making true-blue rock relevant once more in the musical ecosphere. Who knows what’s next for Dirty Honey, whether it be a record deal, a commercial breakthrough or an extensive tour whenever they can make it work. Whatever happens with them, they’re on their way to make an impact one way or another.