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The Honest Mistakes – Get It Right (The Honest Mistakes)

The Honest Mistakes - Get It Right
29 July 2015

Not to be confused with the Dallas alt-country outfit or the Glasgow five-piece of the same name, or Malaysian alt-rockers An Honest Mistake, or California punks The Honest Mistake, this indie pop foursome hail from Baltimore. (Bands: do a Google search before naming yourselves!) While their attractive 2012 Sundowning EP was a nice appetite whetter, the band finally get around to releasing this proper follow-up entrée to their sterling 2010 debut Break Up, and it’s worth the five-year wait. Get It’s production isn’t as sharp or crackling as on Break, and on initial plays their understated yet undulating new rhythm section of bassist Kevin Riordan and drummer John Breitmeyer felt stifled in the mix. But by turning the volume up a notch, the album’s bottom end grew delightfully warm and punchy.

More importantly, the band’s two founders, singer Joylene Dalia and guitarist Chris Ehrich – previously in CheapPaperRomance and The Chris and Joylene Show – have never sounded better. Led by Ehrich’s robust and crunchy, yet jangly and shimmering guitar playing, the band brings to mind a host of Southern U.S. guitar pop bands that formed in the wake of early R.E.M. However, as Jack Rabid correctly surmised in his issue 65 review of Break Up, they mostly recall ‘80s L.A. greats Wednesday Week, with the fetching Dalia resembling that band’s Kristi Callan. I also heard hints of Zeitgeist/The Reivers’ Kim Longacre, Wild Carnation’s Brenda Sauter, and Sleepyhead’s Rachael McNally in Dalia’s rootsy and rousing trill. And though it’s often a lazy rock critic comparison, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Joni Mitchell whenever Dalia hit her higher notes, especially on the exquisite “Chelsea Morning”-evoking “Sun Tea.”

As before, Dalia is the conduit for sole songwriter Ehrich’s despondent, relationship-in-distress lyrics. When she suggests a self-imposed separation with a certain Caroline/Carolyn on the beautiful, bouncy “Bridge,” or deliberates about discreetly cohabiting with one Julie on “Sun Tea,” or laments the loss of a newly-attached acquaintance’s attention on the Kinks “You Really Got Me”-riffed “We Used to Be Friends,” it’s like she’s disclosing the contents of Ehrich’s just-discovered diaries. But as demonstrated by her steadfast, sympathetic singing on the superb “Don’t Leave Me Alone Too Long” – in which she’s concerned her courtship is being constrained by a too-complacent companion – she puts her own singular stamp on every stanza. And when scolding a friend’s shortcomings on the scathing title track, she’s similarly stern, punctuating each observation with the line, “Did I get it right?” I don’t know whether that friend took her advice to heart, but The Honest Mistakes certainly get plenty right on this sophomore release. (thehonestmistakes.bandcamp.com)

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