Honey may be sweet, but the kind Austin’s Honey Made serves is rich, and, dare I say, spicy. With their latest EP, Charge It to the Bank Fund, the nine-piece band goes big and bold, showing how unafraid they are to experiment. The name itself evokes an artist’s hustle, of powering through losses and savoring major wins.
Running through the seven tracks is like getting a full-off sampling of spoons at an ice cream place. Pick any song, and you’ll get a taste of old-school R&B and Earth, Wind & Fire ’90s jazz rap, along with layers of showy sax solos and silky falsettos.
Honey Made begins with a literal bang with “Get On Up.” “We’re having fun, gotta get on up!” sings vocal trio Donald Ford Jr., Willie Barnes II and Chris Barnes. But just when you think the party’s at its peak, the fiery brass takes a back seat, giving way to a smooth jazz bridge with a saxophone solo that almost feels like it belongs in a different song. The slow pause doesn’t last that long; the brass booms back to where it started.
“Vibin’” slides in with Lee Braverman’s sultry bass intro that makes way for impressive falsettos. But this is Honey Made, so just when you thought you figured out what’s going on, they flip the beat to a slow funk carried surprisingly by a punchy trumpet solo.
In yet another surprising twist, “Upstairs” feels like your parents’ R&B. It gives an easy Temptations sound set to Boyz II Men-type lyrics. The beat is so familiar and sentimental, almost acting as a cover for the daring verses.
The risque “Upstairs” leads to “Love It,” a passionate ode to fatherhood. The choice to have these two tracks together is both logical and comical, as if to comment on that one leads to the other. Set to De La Soul-like jazz rap, the trio sings about the fulfilling and stressful parts of being a father, from meltdowns at the store to lovingly tucking their kids in at night.
“FYC” (short for Dave Chapelle’s sketch “F*** Yo Couch”) and “DFA” give more combos of experimental funk and R&B. “DFA” is dedicated to the band’s trombonist, Donald McDaniel, who shines even when competing with synth key trills and spoken verses about him being “Dbone Funk Amazing.” (Also, if you ever wanted a song randomly hyping H&R Block, this is it.)
But Honey Made’s most daring track on the EP is “Ashy Pockets (My Mode).” The band dives into punk rock with this remix of that track from their 2020 album, Come Few. A journey into a more percussive and aggressive sound is a bold move that pays out without feeling like forced experimentation.