Honey Radar: Ribbon Factory [Album Review]

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Honey Radar
Ribbon Factory
Self-Released [2024]

Album Overview: Honey Radar, an enigmatic indie rock band helmed by Jason Henn, has been crafting lo-fi gems since the early 2010s. Originating from Philadelphia, the band’s sound blends garage rock, psych-pop, and experimental noise. Honey Radar’s approach to music involves a DIY ethic, often recording on basic equipment, which adds a nostalgic, analog warmth to their tracks. Over the years, they’ve continued to build a dedicated following in the underground music scene that appreciates their unique approach and consistent output of creatively crafted tunes. Ribbon Factory is another step in Honey Radar’s climb through the realms of lo-fi psychedelia. The album successfully continues the band’s tradition of short, punchy tracks that combine hazy melodies with off-kilter rhythms. The album’s short length is one of its strengths, offering a collection of brief musical pieces that encourage repeated listens to discover their subtle details. Ribbon Factory is frontloaded with 20 minutes over 15 songs of Honey Radar earworms, while the last track, “Infinity Ballroom (Parts 1-7),” fills the album’s remaining 18 minutes with a psychedelic spiral of noise, drone, and noodling that will leave listeners craving more of this edgy mix.

Musical Style: Ribbon Factory stays true to Honey Radar’s lo-fi roots, featuring fuzzy guitars, distant vocals, and a mix of straightforward and experimental song structures that often do not even make it to the 1-minute mark. The album blends elements of garage rock, psychedelia, and indie pop hooks, creating a sound that feels both nostalgic and refreshingly original. The production is deliberately rough around the edges, adding to the album’s charm and authenticity, capping it off with a lesson in focused noise.

Evolution of Sound: With Ribbon Factory, Honey Radar continues to refine their sound while staying true to their lo-fi origins. Compared to earlier releases, this album shows a more confident handling of melody and structure. While the core elements of their music remain unchanged, there’s a noticeable growth in the cohesiveness of the album, suggesting Henn is comfortable in his artistic identity and willing to explore its boundaries.

Artists with Similar Fire: Listeners who appreciate the music of bands like early-era Guided by Voices, The Olivia Tremor Control, The Clean, and The Velvet Underground will enjoy Honey Radar. These artists share a preference for the lo-fi approach, psychedelic influences, and a blend of catchy melodies with experimental soundscapes.

Pivotal Tracks: Key tracks on Ribbon Factory include “Pink Acid Jogger,” “Ticket Games,” and “English Costume.” “Pink Acid Jogger” opens with a memorable, hypnotic rhythm of guitar with an edge, while the layered vocals seem impossible to pull off within the song’s 54-second runtime. “Ticket Games” is further down the tracklist with its punchy yet dreamy reverb-soaked vocals and infectious foot-tapping beat, capturing the essence of Honey Radar’s psychedelic pop sensibility. “English Costume” is actually one of the longer tracks at 1:52, but with its driving beat and swirling guitar lines, it serves as one of the best songs on the record and will leave a lasting impression on anyone that listens.

Lyrical Strength: Honey Radar’s lyrics often take a backseat to their instrumental arrangements, serving more as a complementary texture than a focal point. However, when paid attention to, the lyrics reveal a penchant for abstract imagery and offbeat observations. Henn’s lo-fi lyrical style adds to the album’s mysterious vibe, encouraging listeners to find their own meaning in the often cryptic lyrics.

Play-Box Relay EP (2021) / Jason Henn: Jazz Pigs In High School (2020) / Sing The Snow Away: The Chunklet Years (2020) / Ruby Puff Of Dust (2019) / Blank Cartoon (2016) / Giraffe EP (2015)

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Thomas Wilde

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