Stonehoney
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Stonehoney

Austin, Texas, United States

Austin, Texas, United States
Band Americana Rock

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"Listen Up: Stonehoney"

“Just us doing our Stonehoney thing,” is how this Austin quartet describes their latest release. Recorded live in the studio – with no overdubs or studio magic – the album bristles with an energy and authenticity that is truly refreshing. Each of the four singer-songwriters has a distinct character yet together they create a singular sound filled with infectious melodies and stellar harmonies.

The opening “Two Years Down” is a re-recorded version of a Stonehoney staple, an upbeat lament on living through a break-up in LA. “I guess what you meant when you said goodbye, is now you’re on your own,” sings guitarist Phil Hurley while the rest of the band chimes in with radiant harmonies. David Phenicie’s “Headlight on a Midnight Train” picks up on the break-up theme as the band takes the harmonies to a higher, ethereal level.

“Good As Gone” is another Stonehoney staple, guitarist Shawn Davis’s poignant tale lament of a young drug dealer. “I turned 25 in jail for selling nickels and dimes on the streets,” he sings, At the intersection I could have turned right but I turned wrong, And now I’m here and here’s as good as gone.”

Davis turns in another winner with “Fallin’ Apart,” a foot-tappin’ mid-tempo rocker. The song has a killer hook that stands in stark contrast to the album’s lyrics. With the band’s harmonies on full display, Shawn Davis sings, “I’m fallin’ apart since you said goodbye, what we had is gone, and I’m lost and trying to find my way back home.”

Fourth band member Nick Randolph offers up his variation on the theme with “I Don’t Want To Go Home.” The song has a fine laid-back Eagles vibe as Randolph sings, “The house is like a heartache with a view of what can go wrong, so I don’t wanna go home.”

The boys dig down deep for the closing “Feels Like I’m Gonna Die,” a rock hoedown anchored by a touch of honky-tonk piano. “It was a story of a woman, I was never gonna understand,” sings Phenicie, “So as I sit here ‘n’ pine, wondering if you’re still mine, the hurt is aching through my bones.” Who knew heartbreak could be so catchy? - Twangville


"Stonehoney - The Cedar Creek Sessions"

Stonehoney - The Cedar Creek Sessions (Music Road, 2010)

Group harmonies are returning to country music, and they’re just as pleasing today as they were in the 1970s. You can feel the joy they bring to Stonehoney as they vocalize the wordless “oh-ahhh” exclamations on the opening track. They revel in the way their voices blend with one another’s, and then collectively with the songs’ emotion. It suggests what CS&N must have felt the night they first harmonized. What really makes this Austin quartet’s debut special is that it was recorded live, with no sweetening and no overdubs. The synergy of voices, instruments and songs honed on stage followed the group into the studio, giving these fourteen songs (culled from forty cut in two days!) a wonderfully organic feel. As vocalist/guitarist Nick Randolph writes on their website, “The band grew out of us just hanging out, and it still has that same feeling.”

All four members credit their vocals first, their instruments second, and they reconfigure the lead/harmony assignments from song to song. All four contribute original songs, as well, and the results lean on a variety of country, country-rock and southern-rock influences. The opening line of “I Don’t Want to Go Home” might fool you into thinking it’s sung by John Fogerty, but by the time the song gets to its cleverly crafted lyric “now that you’re gone, the house is like a heartache with a view,” the vocal blend has the richness of Alabama. The lead vocal of the road-warrior themed “White Knuckle Wind” has the earthy edge of Levon Helm, with twangy guitars and Earle Pool Ball’s piano adding honky-tonk sparks.

The foursome find several ways to express longing for departed mates, writing alternately as the one leaving and the one being left. There’s understanding rather than angst in the remains of these relationships, with sadness filling up the spaces where bitterness might have grown. When the relationships succeed, such as in “Lucky One,” they’re proclaimed with open-throated joy, and in “There is Light” there’s optimism at the end of a dark emotional tunnel. The album’s one resolutely downbeat track is Shawn Davis’ letter from jail, “Good as Gone,” filled with somber reflections whose regret can’t turn back the clock on bad decisions. With four talented singer-songwriters, Stonehoney offers many different looks, but it’s their power as a group that’s truly arresting, and given the strength of these live-in-the-studio performances, they’re sure to be a killer stage act. - No Depression Magazine


"Day Off Discovery"

By Michael Corcoran | Monday, July 5, 2010, 03:49 PM

The name’s an impediment until you listen to the music on the band’s debut album “The Cedar Creek Sessions,” which comes out Tuesday. Stonehoney (which is NOT a side project of Stoney Larue and Honeybrowne) could already be the best country rock band in town. Like the Band of Heathens, Stonehoney combines four accomplished singer-songwriters (Shawn Davis, Nick Randolph, Phil Hurley, David Phenicie) who met an an onstage guitar pull and decided to join together. There’s a lot of talent in play here which is why there’s no frontman.
Cedar Creek and Music Road Records co-owner Fred Remmert says there were only a couple of minor overdubs, but the record was otherwise recorded live, with ex- Uncle Tupelo drummer Ken Coomer returning to Cedar Creek for the first time since he skinned on “Anodyne.”
C’mon man. You telling me the singing and playing were happening at the same time and that no little blips were fixed later? My ears aren’t tomato cans; this record sounds layered.
“The Cedar Creek Sessions” comes off like six months in Nashville, with all those great harmonies and Phil Hurley’s lead guitar smoking with the confidence that overdub protection provides. Listen to the way “I Don’t Wanna Go Home” seamlessly binds power pop and country and it’s impossible that they didn’t use any studio tricks.
Two guys from Boston, one from D.C. and one from Cali, signed to Jimmy LaFave’s label, formed in Los Angeles, but couldn’t get to Texas fast enough. “Two Years Down” sums up being lost in L.A., while the melody can see a way out. “Feel Like Home” sounds like the late, great Beat Farmers if they were from Texas. Welcome to Austin, boys, now wait your turn. (“Hey, no cutting!”)
There are four chances this month to see if Stonehoney could possibly make a live album in the studio that sounds so full. There’s an instore at Waterloo Records July 21, followed by a show at Gruene Hall the next night and Luckenbach July 24. Then, Stonehoney plays Roadhouse Rags July 25. - Austin American Statesman


"Stonehoney rides again"

The four part harmonies of Stonehoney wowed the crowd this evening at Threadgill's. The band performed a great set of original material that showcased their individual skills and also proved that they are quite a force as new comers to the Austin scene. Their confident stage presence combined with their musical prowess will surely make them headliners in no time. - Auistn Free Press


"MUSIC ROAD STONEHONEY:/Cedar Creek Sessions"

The thing about a tsunami is that it really washes away everything that isn’t standing the tallest. Before Eagles really jelled into Eagles, there were a lot of good and worthy bands that were working the same trough and vying for the same attention. Stonehoney sounds like they could have been the band you were betting on while Eagles were screwing around in England trying to find the right pieces for the right places. Buoyed by Austin energy, this country rock crew is right on the money and might even have you thinking thoughts about Winslow, Arizona, if you know what I mean. Certainly not pretenders to the throne. - MIDWEST RECORD CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher


Discography

"The Cedar Creek Sessions" on Music Road Records

Photos

Bio

Stonehoney is:

Shawn Davis, Vocals/Electric Guitar
Phil Hurley, Vocals/Electric Lead Guitar
David Phenicie, Vocals/Bass Guitar
Nick Randolph, Vocals/Acoustic Guitar

On their debut album The Cedar Creek Sessions, the Austin, Texas-based quartet Stonehoney delivers a bracing set of 14 original tunes that effortlessly transcend genre restrictions, merging rootsy grit with savvy melodic hooks and pointed lyrical insight. The foursome’s catchy tunes are matched by their seamless vocal harmonies and punchy ensemble performances, which make the most of the band members’ remarkable musical rapport and personal chemistry.

Stonehoney is comprised of four smart, seasoned singer/songwriter/instrumentalists who possess distinctive yet complementary songwriting approaches, and who trade vocals with instinctive ease. The group (accompanied on stage by a variety of drummers and keyboardists) is already a local favorite in its adopted hometown of Austin, and has built a large and enthusiastic fan base thanks to their soulful, high-energy live shows. Equally at home in honky-tonks and rock clubs, in raucous dancehalls and intimate house concerts, Stonehoney has also won acclaim with successful appearances at such prestigious festivals as the International Folk Alliance Conference, the Kerrville Folk Festival and the Falcon Ridge Festival.

The craft and spontaneity of Stonehoney’s live gigs are prominent on The Cedar Creek Sessions, which ranges from the jangly twang of “Two Years Down” to the upbeat infectiousness of “Lucky One” to the bittersweet pop of “I Don’t Wanna Go Home” to the exhilarating road-warrior rock of “White Knuckle Wind” to the introspective balladry of “Headlight On A Midnight Train.” The album (on Austin’s artist-friendly label Music Road Records) was cut entirely live in the studio without sonic trickery, with the four band members joined by such esteemed guest players as ex-Wilco drummer Ken Coomer and legendary pianist Earl Poole Ball, whose extensive resume includes work with Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Gram Parsons and The Byrds.

The members of Stonehoney bring four lifetimes’ worth of experience to the band, hailing from diverse musical and personal backgrounds before fate led them to join forces. California-born Shawn Davis cut his teeth playing guitar in Hollywood hard-rock bands before gravitating towards country music. After an unsatisfying attempt to write mainstream country material in Nashville, he returned to Los Angeles determined to build a creative community of compatible singer- songwriters. Davis found a kindred musical spirit in Nick Randolph, a Boston native who’d moved west and earned acclaim for a trio of independently released solo albums.Davis and Randolph’s nascent musical vision began to take shape when they met Phil Hurley. Raised in upstate New York, Hurley was a founding member of the beloved Boston-based alternative pop combo the Gigolo Aunts, subsequently played with such acts as Fountains of Wayne, Tracy Bonham and Lisa Loeb. The final piece of the puzzle arrived in the form of David Phenicie, a D.C.-area native who’d played and sang in a long series of blues-rock and alt-country bands. Phenicie’s multiple experiences as a group member eventually made him determined to pursue a career as a solo singer-songwriter.

The seeds for Stonehoney’s birth were planted while Davis, Randolph, Hurley and Phenicie were participants in loose weekly musical gatherings that took place in the living room of the tiny house that Randolph rented in the Hollywood Hills. “We’d just hang out and play music,” Randolph recalls. “It was such a great, carefree time. We weren’t thinking about our careers; we were just enjoying the music and each other’s company.”

Initially dubbed Songs from the Hillside Living Room, the informal collective performed together in a songwriters-in-the- round format in L.A. Despite their initial reluctance to commit themselves to a full-time band, the four friends’ musical and personal connection proved too powerful to ignore. Even Phenicie, who had just released his first solo album, was willing to sacrifice his budding individual career to focus on Stonehoney.

The musicians’ faith was vindicated with their move to the more musically hospitable environs of Austin, where they quickly won a reputation as a formidable live act. “As soon as we got to Austin, things started to happen for us,” Hurley reports. “People weren’t interested in whether we were hunky; they just wanted to know if we could play and if our songs were any good. It felt like we’d come home.”

The freewheeling, unpretentious vibe of Stonehoney’s live shows is reflected in every note of The Cedar Creek Sessions. True to the spirit of the project, the band members weren’t even sure that they were recording an album when they went into Music Road’s Cedar Creek Recording studio, where they spent four busy days cutting more than 40 of their original compositions. “It was just an