• Honeydogs
  • The Honeydogs (October) 1995 
  • Everything, I Bet You (October) 1996 
  • Here's Luck (Palm) 2000 

“It hardly takes a genius/Just a human with a penis/That’s me.” Adam Levy, the human in question, doesn’t give himself enough credit. “I hear you like ’em tough as nails, well I break like a twig/I’m good at feeling sorry for myself, I’m lazy as a pig.” Actually, the singer/guitarist is nothing of the sort, and his Minneapolis band — initially a trio with drummer/brother Noah (lately of Golden Smog as well) and bassist Trent Norton — demonstrates the kind of casual Midwest overachievement that leaves earnest strivers wondering where they were when the talent rations got handed out. Amalgamating the region’s recent stylistic schools (wistful reflection, Stonesy rock’n’roll, rustic folksiness — in short, the Replacements crossed with the Jayhawks), the Honeydogs add a Beatlesy pop element, a warm soul stream and a bit of Hendrix to their first album, overdoing the variety a hair but generally nailing one track after another with wry sincerity and casually brilliant songcraft. Besides “That’s Me,” highlights include the zippy show-starter “What I Want,” the Mellencamped “I Miss You,” the spare electric country of “Put Me to Bed” and “Like a Fortress,” which re-imagines “The Wind Cries Mary” as an Otis Redding song.

Recorded as a quartet with second guitarist Tommy Borschied, Everything, I Bet You glazes the Honeydogs’ leanings with more of everything: the country numbers have the formality of pedal steel, the dispirited ballads are more deeply emotional and purposefully produced, the rock has a tougher edge. The only element not amplified is the songwriting. Although still solid, and occasionally — “Moth,” “Your Blue Door,” the tender “Miriam” and the bouncy “Busy Man” — even better than that, the material lacks the fine consistency of the debut.

[Ira Robbins]

See also: Golden Smog, Martin Zellar