Moon Honey
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Moon Honey

Los Angeles, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Los Angeles, California, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Rock Art Rock




"Whirlwind virtuosity, extremes of delicacy and impact, melodies that leap all over the place, suite-like structures, cryptic lyrics based on literary conceits"

Whirlwind virtuosity, extremes of delicacy and impact, melodies that leap all over the place, suite-like structures, cryptic lyrics based on literary conceits — all the hallmarks of progressive rock are robustly in place on “Hand-Painted Dream Photographs,” the first full-length album by Moon Honey, a musically hyperactive band from Baton Rouge, La. It released a 2010 EP, “Lemon Heart Opera,” under a different band name, Twin Killers.

The guitarist Andrew Martin, the keyboardist Jeffrey Livingston and the drummer Jermaine Butler back the high, quivery vocals (and lyrics) of Jessica Ramsey in songs that segue amid folky-baroque intricacy; power-trio stomps; odd-meter excursions; and pealing, crystalline multiple-guitar constructions. Moon Honey’s repertory could plausibly be collaborations among Joanna Newsom, the Mars Volta and Grizzly Bear.

Each song is an odyssey, like “The Two Fridas,” which, in its six minutes, moves through pageant, barrage, rush, reconsideration, private reflection, desperate waltz and wailing affirmation, not to mention lyrics that tease at possibilities of meaning. Ms. Ramsey sings


I walked across a rickety beam gray drone

clogged throat

couldn’t speak but you said you’d help me

up a ladder.

Salvador Dalí described his paintings as “hand-painted dream photographs,” and on the band’s lyrics page, Dalí is one of the painters and poets who provide epigraphs — and perhaps imagined narrators — for every song, among them Frida Kahlo, Sylvia Plath, Edvard Munch and the self-taught Cayman Islands artist Gladwyn K. Bush. (Mr. Martin is from the Cayman Islands.) Yet if Ms. Ramsey is imagining artistic minds at work, she also hints at the ups and downs of romance throughout the album, which ends with a pair of songs called “The Lovers” (I and II). The latter concludes:

This game of hide and seek

was fun

I lost but I was found

I won one more time

promise you’ll hide inside my arms

this time.

Moon Honey often describes its music as “psychedelic,” but its songs aren’t the psychedelia of amorphous, open-ended jamming. They are fully composed from end to end, meticulously plotted voyages through chaotic states of mind. It’s strenuous music for both players and listeners; the tempestuous ride is its own reward. JON PARELES - New York Times

"Cotton candy dipped in peyote"

Four stars. I think Jessica Ramsey has one of those voices. I can see a cult forming around this band. Maybe there already is a cult in Baton Rouge, I need to get down there and join in. They’re all dipping cotton candy in peyote. “The Cotton Candy Cult”.
—NPR All Songs Considered - NPR

"Is this sonic equivalent to sunshine?"

Well, here's some perfect music for Tuesday afternoon. Coming from the swamps of the south—or, more accurately, Baton Rouge, Lousiana—Moon Honey is here with some cotton candy for your appetite. The band, made up of guitarist Andrew Martin and vocalist Jessica Ramsey and who are produced by Deerhoof's Greg Saunier, are premeiring their latest "Boy Magic," which Noisey is streaming below. The track is a whirlwind of indie pop, recalling a blend of the Dirty Projectors and Bjork in a way that, to these ears, actually sounds like sunshine, casting shadows hidden behind chaotic strings. This is a summer afternoon at the park. This is the moment before you first kiss someone. This is asking someone to dance at a wedding. We're so happy right now our faces hurt from smiling. Stream it below. - Noisey/Vice

"Surreal and theatrical, delicate and forceful, surely the stuff of dreams"

Though they now live in Los Angeles, it’s nice to romanticize Moon Honey’s Louisiana bohemian roots, like they’re a couple of gypsy poets that might know how to hypnotize swamp creatures into submission with sleight-of-hand moves and arpeggiated vocalizations. Why not? The main force of the band, Andrew Martin and Jessica Ramsey, have a mystical vibe about them, and their music is surreal and theatrical, both delicate and forceful, surely the stuff of dreams, and a testament to Martin’s beguiling approach to composition. The video for “The Cathedral” hinges on a pen pal letter/river tour, with Ramsey’s pseudo sign language both illuminating the surroundings as well as guiding us through her emotional landscape. The singer’s earnest delivery and youthful outfit, Girl Scout shirt and colorful plastic bead bracelet, pairs sweetly with the wise innocence of lyrics like, “I heard there is a fine line between love and hate on which we’re pulled and yanked and if this is the natural order of things why does it feel unnaturally mean
?” The song is cute and haunting, like squeezing a teddy bear in the dark. “The Cathedral” is the first single off the band’s forthcoming new record, and if there are more like this one, it’s safe to expect their next album will be as intriguing as 2013’s “Hand-Painted Dream Photographs.” - Buzz Bands LA

"Depth is the name of the game"

In the case of psychedelic freakrock group Moon Honey, depth is the name of the game. Whether it’s in the heightened lyrics or the restless path of the songs, Moon Honey is utilizing the psychedelic adjective to good purpose, giving us something in the veins of both Dirty Projectors and Deerhoof but with a side of Yes and Joni Mitchell.
—Impose Magazine - IMPOSE Magazine

"Pastoral, wild, operatic, freewheeling, abstract, and intense"

Pastoral, wild, operatic, freewheeling, abstract, and intense – these descriptions only begin to scratch the surface of the idiosyncratic music/art project that is Moon Honey. The interesting mixture of acid rock and indie folk is only overshadowed by Jessica Ramsey whose voice is as distinctive as Bjork or Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. - Fuzzy Headphones

"Feverish vibrato...ferocity... revealing an unusual ability 
to explore independent territory"

The songs on the album are full and somewhat manic, yet refreshingly so. Their structures seem unfixed (which is not to say unplanned), thus accommodating 
sudden shifts in intensity in a manner akin to The Mars Volta. Singer 
Jessica Ramsey’s feverish vibrato demands the most attention. One wonders how she is able to maintain her ferocity, even in slow and sparse pieces like “Fox at the Aegean” (which, buried six tracks deeps, provides a necessary breath of air). The backing band of Jermaine Butler (drums), Jeffrey Livingston (bass, keys), and founder Andrew Martin (guitar) spins a firm yet flexible net to sometimes support and sometimes propel Ramsey’s quavering vocals, revealing an unusual ability 
to explore independent territory before combining forces for moments of maximum import. The decision to augment traditional instrumentation never feels contrived, as exemplified by an unrestrained baritone sax solo during the third track, “Lady Lazarus.” By record’s end, the listener might feel a bit drained but satiated, as though the music had been transmitted not through speakers but through a relentless stage show. - Santa Fe, New Mexico Magazine

"Something you really haven’t ever heard before"

I’m a very, very recent convert to Baton Rouge band Moon Honey (formerly known as Twin Killers, by the by, in case you’ve seen that on bills with The Manichean or other like-minded folks), but now that I’ve heard ‘em, well…damn. This month saw the release of brand-new album Hand-Painted Dream Photographs, and it’s truly something else, trust me.

I’ll grant that it does take a little listening to really get what the band’s doing, especially with vocalist Jessica Ramsey’s warbly/wavery, strange-yet-compelling voice, but hang in there a bit and you’ll get sucked in, sure enough. The closest analogue I can come up with to this band is H-town’s own soul-psych-prog heroes The Tontons, since both bands are murky and complicated and kinda-sorta jam-y at times, with constantly-shifting song structures (seriously, Moon Honey never really stops moving) and heavy doses of prog/jazz and soul underpinning the whole thing.

Where they differ, though, is in Moon Honey’s more orchestral, more baroque approach on some of the album; those intricate, seemingly fragile moments are where they look more like The Decemberists or the aforementioned Manichean than anything else, with Ramsey coming off like Joanna Newsome lost in some candlelit forest — see the shambling, shuddering opening track “The Cathedral,” in particular, or maybe the ridiculously delicate “The Ship”.

The band never lets itself get pinned down, though, and fearlessly charges through tracks like “Lady Lazarus,” which rides a propulsive, almost samba-like rhythm and throws in some seriously jazzy horns towards the end. Then there’s “The Two Fridas,” which makes me think of a less-angry mr. Gnome, alternately fragile and thundering, with guitars and drums that stomp and crush their way along while Ramsey croons and shivers, or “She Touched the Hem of His Garment,” which is dark and moody and halfway to being a trip-hop throwback track.

At the end of the day, then, Photographs is the sound of a band doing something you really haven’t ever heard before, even if you might’ve heard something in the same general neighborhood. I put on the album expecting to just give it a cursory listen…but after a couple of tracks, I couldn’t bring myself to hit “Stop,” even after it had gone around a couple of times. And yeah, I’m going to let it go around again for a few more. - Space City Rock

"Interview with Grateful Web"

Moon Honey, the New Orleans born quartet, is celebrating the release of their first full album, Hand-Painted Dream Photographs, with the completion of their US west coast tour. Moon Honey’s love of the symphony and poetry is evident in the beautiful lyrics throughout this record and in the orchestrated tracks. Violinists, harpists, horns and choirs have sat in with the band. Make no mistake – there is rock element in this record especially with members rooted in progressive rock and the guitarist’s influence by Jimi Hendrix. Though ostensibly progressive and complex, the record’s sound, in addition, is fantastically comforting and nostalgic. - Grateful Web

"The music becomes the drug that allows the trip into one’s own mind."

Moon Honey is an odd duck and I say that with the greatest respect for ducks of all shapes, colors and sounds. Layers upon layers of quirks combine to create an orchestral rock dreamscape that I genuinely don’t know if I’ve ever heard anything quite like before. Moon Honey’s lead vocalist Jessica Ramsey’s warbly voice is perhaps both the most unique as well as most polarizing thing about Moon Honey. It’s not her actual tone that wavers, rather her intentional vocal style which has hints of classical Carnatic music though in general sound and not technique.

Ramsey seems happy to mash several vocal methods together and slips in and out of a more Western rock/pop voice and a more operatic Eastern European/Southern Asian inspired one. In a way she vocally reminds me of an untrained version of Vitas on his classic “Opera Number 2″ (minus the whistle register parts). Musically the band mixes together a cauldron of progressive rock, psychedelic dueling guitars and lush stringed movements topped off with a savory garnish of probably whatever unique instruments happened to be in the studio during the recording sessions. However, the swirls and bursts of sounds and instruments belie a tightly structured approach to song composition which isn’t at first obvious given the music often feels like an unrelenting domino chain, perpetually in motion.

The underlying emphasis on sweeping orchestral movements and purposeful composition actually makes sense though taken into context with the album name, Hand-Painted Dream Photographs. The name is borrowed from how surrealist icon Salvador Dalí described his main aesthetic. He sought to capture the illogical and absurd in such vibrant detail as to be as clear as a photograph. The band approaches their music in the same manner in which Dalí painted his masterpieces–with the understanding that an accurate portrayal of a dream cannot be crafted with abstract brushstrokes or haphazard musical notes. Rather dreams demand a respect for the rules and foundation of the fantastical world in which they exist no matter how misshapen or bent those rules are. Dreams are powerful because our minds make them real in that moment therefore a visual or musical exploration of dreams must strive to impart that visceral truth that drags those dreams into a concrete reality.

The first time I listened to this album, I think I was simply overwhelmed with all of the many things happening plus was too unsure of how I felt about Ramsey’s vocal style to properly formulate an opinion. Several listens later, I find myself still incapable of accurately describing the experience of listening to this album–but perhaps that’s the point. Moon Honey has crafted a raucous yet hypnotic alternate dimension that ensnares the listener’s mind in a fully formed world, but a world of the listener’s own creation. Thus the music becomes the drug that allows the trip into one’s own mind.

Key Tracks:
“Fox at the Aegean”
“Lovers I”
“Lovers II”
“The Two Fridas” - Ear Buddy

"Intense, direct, driving; hypnotically focused...extremely skilled at filling up a venue with people and sound"

Anyone who has seen [Moon Honey] on a stage could come up with a thousand ways to describe them: intense, direct, driving; hypnotically focused with excellent execution; extremely skilled at filling up a venue, with both people and sound. A reputation precedes their live show as one with the rare ability to steal all the air in the room, taking everyone’s breath away and holding it captive until the set is over, which is usually when the audience remembers to inhale. As anyone could imagine, that sort of live catharsis can be exhausting. - DIG Magazine

"Floored by beauty...bittersweet...fantastical like a very vivid dream"

I spent a lot of time putting their music under this kind of microscope that’s only possible when you’re the person doing the mix, when you can hear every single track separated, and I was floored by both how beautiful the music is, but how intricate and how full it is. Every little thing mattered; every little part was inspired in some way.

I spent a couple of months on it, but it was a very interesting place to be living for a few months. It was quite – I don’t know how to describe it. It was very emotional, and in order to feel like I was doing a good job mixing it, I had to make myself vulnerable to the emotion of the music.

I had just spent six months in this world of playful-sounding, cheerful, danceable, energetic music, and then Moon Honey (formerly Twin Killers) comes along and the music was so powerful that it really took over. Some days I had a hard time; it was sad or dreamy or bittersweet. The harmony is so rich that I had to be strong in order to be able to do the work and continue. In order to keep it up, I found at some point I had to make some big effort. It was too easy to get sucked into it. I feel like it carries you away in some ways. There’s something about it that’s unreal, fantastical, like a dream, a very vivid dream. It’s the surreal quality of it while doing some very real work at a desk. It was hard to keep my feet on the ground enough to actually make the mixes when the music was trying to pull me into the clouds. I am really happy with how this stuff turned out. - Greg of Deerhoof, DIG Magazine


Lemon Heart Opera EP (2010) ; 
Hand-Painted Dream Photographs (2013) mixed/produced by Greg Saunier of Deerhoof and mastered by Steve Fallone of Sterling Sound (The Strokes, Tame Impala, TV on the Radio)



Art student Jessica Ramsey (vox) and island-raised Andrew Martin’s (guitar) collaboration began in a small horse stable home in the back swamps of Louisiana in 2013. Within two weeks of meeting, the two declared each other “musical soul mates,” and Moon Honey was born. Their vigorous work ethic and unorthodox approach to songwriting culminated in the critically acclaimed debut album Hand-Painted Dream Photographs, mixed by Greg Saunier of Deerhoof. The unlikely collision of Bjork-esque melodies with late 60’s inspired, freak-out guitar riffs landed the band in The New York Times, NOISEY, and NPR, launching a number of cross country tour performances including an in-studio KEXP session and official SXSW showcases featured on NPR’s Top 100 Acts.

After garnering a vigilant west coast following, the pair relocated from Baton Rouge to Los Angeles in 2015, at which point Logan Baudean (drums) and Bobby Victor (keyboard/synth bass) joined the live act. In the short period following, the group released the single “Boy Magic” dubbed “Splendid prog-pop” by Amoeba Records, performed legendary L.A. venues such as The Echo and Echoplex, headlined Brokechella and Chinatown Moon Fest, with numerous shows presented by L.A. Weekly and BuzzbandsLA. Inspired by their current tropical terrain and the outlandish culture surrounding the project, the band has just recorded a new album, helmed by John Goodmanson (Blonde Redhead, Sleater KInney, Death Cab) to be released in 2017.

Band Members