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The best kept secret in music


"Universal Honey, Vicious Circles"

Universal Honey, Vicious Circles
(* * * of 4) Fifty years or so after rock 'n' roll's birth, all mainstream pop-rock has become derivative: elements of the past recycled and recombined. The trick is to make it sound fresh, and this veteran Canadian male/female duo has the knack. There are echoes of ABBA, Fleetwood Mac, The Pretenders and even Black Sabbath (Circles' riff is a pop-wrought Iron Man variation), but the closest comparison is the underrated Swedish duo Roxette. Honey's Leslie Stanwyck and Johnny Sinclair share a flair for the glorious pop chorus, the insidious guitar figure and the deeply meaningless lyric that made Roxette's pop confections such a joy ride in the '90s. The Go Your Own Way-like Wasn't It You, Unlucky and Take the Long Way are the kind of straightforward, melodic delights that have been in sadly short supply so far this century. —Ken Barnes - USA Today

"universal honey-vicious circles"

Big Takeover Magazine(#55)

universal honey
vicious circles
(41 Records)
Sometimes the most subversive thing a veteran band can do is to continue doing what they do best. These Canadians have been making solid pop rock for over a decade now, with singles like "Just Before Mary Goes" and the albums Magic Basement, Invincible, Fearless, and Earth Moon Transit. Despite numerous personnel changes the essential ingredients, Leslie Stanwyck¹s mellifluous vocals/intricate guitar coupled with bassist Johnny Sinclair¹s deft melodicism remain. The dour (but great) opening track "Unlucky" finds our heroine bemoaning her fatal attraction to some wayward cad.The music is an epic nod to ¹80s groups like Simple Minds and Talk Talk. "Second Time Around" and "Dirty Life" will appeal to Chrissie Hynde/Pretenders junkies. The rest of these equally fine tunes about lies, deception, and middle-aged doubt should find a place amid your Top 10 discs of 2004. - Big Takeover Magazine

"Universal Honey"

When you've been listening to popular music as long as I have, it's very difficult not to make reference to an earlier song/artist. "Wasn't It You," one of the jangly tracks on Universal Honey's new disc - Vicious Circles - opens like a cover of Fleetwood Mac's monster hit "Go Your Own Way." Universal Honey's male/female tandem still manage to take their song into unique territory … and yet there is no escaping the Fleetwood Mac reference on several other songs. Lead vocalist Leslie Stanwyck also sounds like Aimee Mann and Shania Twain on a few tunes, and the duo sounds like Wilson Phillips on "Afraid Of My Heart." Fans of the Kennedys should dig this latest pop gem from Universal Honey. - Fufkin.com - fufkin.com

"Universal Honey"

2004 release from this Canadian duo which is filled with all sorts of sunny, sparkling and File in the same classroom as Juliana Hatfield, later day Bangles, The Hummingbirds, The Kennedys, Roxette, Robin Lane & The Chartbusters and Julie Miller`s first solo album from 14 years ago. Like such maddingly catching bands as, say, Roxette, Universal Honey throw out massive, incredibly and impossibly catchy hooks inside all their melodies so the results float over the gently jangly pop rhythms effortlessly---UH place emphasis squarely on craft, give the melodies room to breathe . Their songs are as melodically airtight as possible, hooks coating the songs thickly and slowly. Full of glorious melodies and classic guitar po charm, the record is incredibly warm and inviting, and tremendously sincere throughout. Simply, wonderful! - NOT LAME.com - NotLame.com

"Album Of The Month"

I find myself wondering - as I listen to Universal Honey's new CD again and again - how a band can be so consistent and so good. They've been at it for a decade now, since 1994's Magic Basement. No low points, no dud albums. Even more amazingly, this disc is great from beginning to end.
Universal Honey was created when Leslie Stanwyck and Johnny Sinclair left seminal band The Pursuit of Happiness. At the time, the breakup of TPOH seemed a catastrophe, but the genesis of Universal Honey was an unexpected boon to lovers of great music everywhere.
Vicious Circles is the band's sixth album, not counting the Christmas disc from last year. Circles finds UH returning to the stripped-down, rock and roll sound of their second album, Earth-Moon Transit, after their two-album sojourn into the world of alt-pop.
From the first notes of terrific opener "Unlucky", to the last strains of the beautiful closer "Afraid of My Heart", this is pure perfection. Hopefully Vicious Circles will be a breakthrough disc for UH, who have had only middling success on alternative and college radio, TV shows like Dawson's Creek, and a few Canadian and Hollywood movie soundtracks so far.
The greatest indictment I can level against today's pop music is that (so far) Universal Honey hasn't found top-40 success. Go out and buy this album, and see what our radio stations could be playing. You won't be disappointed. - Marc Dalesandro


Universal Honey
Vicious Circles
[41 records]
3 and 1/2 stars (out of four)

"New female-pop tip for the day: Universal Honey, a Canadian duo with seven
(!) albums out. Nothing profound, but the forthcoming album, 'Vicious
Circles,' in particular (and all the previous albums) are full of catchy
ABBA/Roxette-ish pop-rock."

So said Ken Burns of USA Today ,during a recent on-line chat. And while we
might add latter-day Pretenders to the stockpile of influences on this
shimmering jewel of a Canadian pop duo, we suggest you not be put off by the
comparisons to Swedish radio pop - "Vicious Circles" is, after all, a strong
rock record, with pop overtones.

Leslie Stanwyck and Johnny Sinclair have been at it for a while, a decade or
so which has seen the pair release seven records and fine-tune a brand of
radio-friendly rock music that stands apart from the hordes because, well,
it doesn't suck!

Reminding us that hook-heavy pop-rock needn't but obvious or vacuous,
Stanwyck and Sinclair craft a masterpiece of harmony-heavy, intelligent,
melodic, guitar-based music, the sort that can cross genre and idiom lines
with grace and self-assurance.

The tough part for radio programmers whose desk "Vicious Circles" lands on
will not be "finding the single," but narrowing the field down from the 8 or
9 potential hits packed into the disc's 14-tune tracklist. We'll cast our
vote for "Wasn't It You," which begins with Stanwyck's multi-tracked guitar
arrangement, an ode of sorts to "Rumors"-era Lindsey Buckingham, and follow
it with a tip of the hat to the nearly-power ballad "Talk To Me," which
sounds a bit like Roxette, yes, but avoids such an ugly "middle-of-the-road"
tag on the strength of the band's shadowy, organic production.

Throughout "Vicious Circles," Stanwyck sings with considerable emotional
investment, layers her guitars - acoustic and electric - with taste and
sophistication, and manages to bring a sultry edge to the proceedings that
was often missing from the band's past efforts. And in their songwriting
partnership, Stanwyck and Sinclair have found a gift that keeps on giving. -
Jeff Miers, Music Critic, The Buffalo News - The Buffalo News

"Can’t Stop Thinking About Christmas"

Radio & Records Magazine
Universal Honey
Can’t Stop Thinking About Christmas
"Can't Stop Thinking about Christmas" is a collection of original Christmas tunes by Ontario-based group Universal Honey's Leslie Stanwyck and Johnny Sinclair. The album came out last year, but it's worth mentioning again. Before you discount these Christmas originals, think The Waitresses' "Christmas Wrapping." And if you like Chrissy Hynde, you'll love this record. These hooky, radio friendly contemporary holiday songs make for a nice respite from the ones we've heard so many times before. Strong tracks include "Glad It's Christmastime," "Shine a Light on the World" and the title track, "Can't Stop Thinking About Christmas."
Universal Honey does deliver a traditional song, "Three Ships" and it's a wonderful folk/blues rendition of a Christmas classic. Featured on the album are Honey friends Ron Sexsmith, Barenaked Ladies' Tyler Stewart and Goo Goo Doll's Robby Takac. Contact: Doug Dombrowski at Records41@aol.com - Radio & Records Magazine

""Can't Stop Thinking About Christmas""

What a wild ride! Universal Honey are Leslie Stanwyck and Johnny Sinclair, and these Canadian pop rockers put on an exceptional show for the season. When "Can't Stop Thinking About Christmas" was released last November, it immediately caused quite a stir, and I can see why! Leslie Stanwyck supplies the very cool vocals, and the overall sound is reminiscent of Stevie Nicks with Fleetwood Mac. The music is high-energy and unforgettable.

The title track is a show-stopper! "Can't Stop Thinking About Christmas" had me bouncing out of my chair. It opens with the scratch sounds of an old LP (or perhaps radio static?), then plunges into "i made a list i checked it twice/since you've been naughty you wanna make it alright" and "are you my baby? am I your sugar plum?" The lyrics are absolutely delicious. The song is so nice, the album includes it twice, bookending the CD at the front and back (the final cut is a heavier-duty "MixMas" remixed version).

There is nothing standard about these holiday tunes. With the exception of "Three Ships," the 12 cuts are all original Christmas songs penned by Stanwyck and Sinclair. The songwriting is exceptional, and the liner notes helpfully provide all the creative lyrics. Although the songs are largely hard-driving, a warm affection and gentle playfulness underlie the effort. You do get the sense that these two genuinely enjoy the holiday season; for example, Universal Honey's version of the traditional "Three Ships" (one of my favorite carols) is a touching treat. "You Still Love Me" is a great number that is not strictly a holiday number; it can enjoy guilt-free spins on your CD player all year 'round. In fact, this CD is so fresh and new that you may find you "Can't Stop Thinking About Christmas" is July!

Want a hard rockin' Christmas party of an album? "Can't Stop Thinking About Christmas" will take you on a joyful romp. It's terrific.

--Carol Swanson

- ChristmasReviews.com

"Universal Honey-Can't Stop...."

Ever wish that Fleetwood Mac had recorded a Christmas album before Christine McVie retired to her English manor? What if Sheryl Crow had decided to soak up some snow instead of the sun? And why didn’t Abba, the best pop group since the Sixties, put a Dancing Queen under the mistletoe? Well, you can stop your pondering and stuff your stocking with Can’t Stop Thinking About Christmas from Universal Honey. Long-time Western New York favorites, the Ontario-based Honeys–Johnny Sinclair and Leslie Stanwyck–have put enough hooks in their first holiday disc to keep your ears hung up by the speakers right through to the New Year. With a guest list including Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy, guitar man Kim Mitchell, premier tunesmith Ron Sexsmith, and Robbie Takac of the Goo Goo Dolls, it’s guaranteed to keep your Yule party stirred-up and shakin’.
SPREE Magazine, Bruce Eaton - SPREE Magazine

"Bee's Knee's ++XmasReview"

Universal Honey
Vicious Circles
41 Records

Universal Honey is the bee’s knees. By Cam Fuller.
Further proof that there’s no rhyme or reason to the music industry is the amazing , untold story of Universal Honey. Multi-instrumentalist Leslie Stanwyck and bassist Johnny Sinclair have been together for a dozen years and six albums since leaving the
Pursuit Of Happiness in the early ‘90‘s. Their music is constantly used in hip movies and TV shows like Dawson’s Creek. They create exquisite pop-rock songs so catchy
that just one listen is never enough. But have you ever heard them on the radio?
Have they ever sold out your local arena?
The bands latest work, their purest to date, they say, is Vicious Circles. Where other bands would run out of ideas and melodies after eight songs, UH provides 14, with no filler. There sound can be genetically traced to Fleetwood Mac, Pretenders( Stanwyck,
who does all the singing, can sound as much like Chrissie Hynde as Chrissie Hynde)and, some say, Roxette. Add Wild Strawberries to the mix if you really want to
confuse people.
If you’re a sucker for hooks, look no further than the album’s stand out song Love and Affection, serving up guitars with Raveonette jangle and crunch, organ stings and layered vocals. There are so many tricks here that it’s almost not fair; you’re powerless to resist.
Universal Honey is the bee’s knees.

Universal Honey
Can’t Stop Thinking About Christmas
41 Records

This is Christmas music for people who don’t like Christmas music.
The Ontario duo of Leslie Stanwyck and Johnny Sinclair do the
impossible in this album, crafting original songs about Christmas
that don’t sound sappy or derivative. As is often the case,
rock’n’roll is the answer.
The songs are peppy, clever and catchy pop rock gems that will
have you looking at Festivus in a whole new way. Little Christmas
Tree (“for two whole weeks you’re part of me”) is a simple delight.
Christmas In The Summertime is imagined as a cure for a season that “feels so fabricated it’s enough to make you hate it.” No happyending here: “still don’t have the season’s spirit, but I’ve got
soap on a rope.” The wit is matched by the playing, with Stanwyck on guitar and keyboards and Sinclair on bass.
Stanwyck’s singing is superb. It’s almost indecent for someone to
sound so sexy on a Christmas album, but her voice is like hot breath in your ear. A passel of musical friends shows up to help. Ron Sexsmith lends his odd voice to the aforementioned tree song while Jim Cuddy duets with Stanwyck on You Still Love Me – not a Christmas song per se but a melodic and sweet love song nonetheless. This one’s probably available only on-line so check out

Cam Fuller
- Star Phoenix


1999 - s/t


Feeling a bit camera shy


Universal Honey
Universal Honey was formed in 1992 by Johnny Sinclair and Leslie Stanwyck.
Sinclair & Stanwyck met in 1988 while playing in the Canadian band The Pursuit of Happiness, which achieved moderate success world wide. Sinclair played bass, was a vital member from their inception and Stanwyck sang backing vocals and played guitars. They recorded 2 albums with TPOH (both produced by Todd Rundgren), 1988's "Love Junk" and 1990's "One-Sided Story" and toured North America and Europe. During this time Sinclair and Stanwyck started a song writing partnership that ultimately lead them in a different direction than TPOH and early in 1991 the duo left the band to form their own group. They put together a pop rock band to play the songs they had written and then slugged it out touring extensively before recording their debut album "Magic Basement". The album blended many influences of them both but had a sound that was unique and fresh which introduced Stanwyck's charming vocals against a back drop of melodic yet driving guitars. The album
received rave reviews and the singles "Just Before Mary Goes" and "Upfront With You" broke out on to the airwaves with cross-over appeal by getting college, alternative and rock radio support in Canada and the U.S.

Sinclair & Stanwyck, as a new and exciting writing duo already started making headway as credible songwriters by having songs from their first album winning spots in television shows andmovies. "Just Before Mary Goes" was used in it's entirety in the opening scene in Ashley Judd and Luke Perry's movie Normal Life. Also using Universal Honey songs was the critically acclaimed movie director Denys Arcand (Love and Human Remains).

In 1996, after touring the success of "Magic Basement", The Honey's took time to go back to the studio to record their second album "Earth Moon Transit". This album produced another set of solid tracks that received glowing reviews and again received airplay in both the U.S. and Canada. The single "Any Road Back", gained them even
more recognition at radio stations across the U.S. Videos were also featured on MTV's 120 Minutes and on MuchMusic. The single "Make My Mind" was added to MTV's M2 and MuchMusic. They began touring again which included US radio festivals and then a very lengthy and effective tour across the U.S. with the Goo Goo Dolls.

Non-stop touring, traveling in a van for months on end and other hardships took their toll on all involved in the Honey's organization. After a change in management they took time to reflect, recoup and rejuvenate then started putting into words and music the very confusing and overwhelming times they had just experienced.

In 1999 Sinclair and Stanwyck recorded their third album ,the self-titled, "Universal Honey" and also tested their producing abilities. The album was a bit scattered in concept but as always contained hidden gems. The single "Hit the Ground Running" was added to MuchMoreMusic and also used in the short lived WB TV series Grosse Pointe. More and more TV spots began to materialize, Dawson's Creek used "Real World", and "Big Mistake" was used in the CBC movie "Harry's Case".

The Honey's next experimented with moods on their album "Fearless". A darker tone was set for this fourth album and they acquired the production talents of Dale Penner (Nickleback, Holly Macnarland). And now a common occurrence, more television placements . "Won't Find You" was used in Dawson's Creek and Robby Takac from the Goo Goo Dolls added his flair and remixed the track. Other tunes from this collection have been used on the Food Network cooking show "Surreal Gourmet". The single "Think you Know", received air play in pockets across North America and was on the CHUM Top 100 songs for 2002.

Not stopping for a breath, Sinclair and Stanwyck began assembling their own recording studio and in 2002, with what they had learned over the years, recorded then released their fifth album "Invincible". Several of their songs
during this time were used in the Rosanna Arquette documentary "Searching For Debra Winger" (Selma Hayek, Melanie Griffith, Jane Fonda, Sharon Stone, Gwyneth Paltrow), which premiered at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival and is in regular rotation on cable channels world wide. Again the title track received moderate airplay as proof of the strength of their songwriting. "Invincible" is a more consistent album than the last few with a sincerity that's refreshing.

Still experimenting in their studio, and with the encouragement of their manager, in 2003 Sinclair and Stanwyck recorded and released a Christmas Album with 12 original tunes. The album, "Can’t Stop Thinking About Christmas", received, and is still receiving rave reviews worldwide. The album is upbeat, fun and calls upon many fellow musicians, with guest appearances from Ron Sexsmith , Jim Cuddy (Blue Rodeo), Tyler Stewart
(Barenaked Ladies) and more. Four songs from this album charted on the BDS airplay chart in