That’s what the Heresies make.
Although their music has a direct, easily traceable lineage to pure country and honky tonk of the past, there is no other band quite like the Heresies.
In all things musical and otherwise, Kris sees the beauty, meaning, and functionality in the discarded bits and pieces that others have deemed ugly, meaningless, and useless. Then he glues, screws, and weaves them together along with universally appreciated items into aesthetically pleasing objects of intrigue and unique functionality.
What do the Heresies sound like? Something like a solution of Ray Price, Waylon, and Paycheck dissolved in a solvent of Roger Miller.
The sound starts with a foundation of strong and steady rhythm provided by Chris Budin (drums) and Max Paley (bass), and is complimented by the melodic clawhammer banjo of Chad Swiercinsky. In addition to his warm and velvety voice, Kris chops and shuffles along on his twangy electric guitar, interjecting the occasional creative lead line. But the lion’s share of leads come from Jay Timp’s fiery and fearless lap steel . The whole thing is tied together by the perfect harmonies of Chris and Max.
Sometimes funny, sometimes serious. Always thought-provoking. Anything but monotonous.
The Heresies’ vast collection of original songs ranges from heartfelt ballads and waltzes to shuffling two-steps to swingers to outright rockers. There is no yawning or clock-gazing at a Heresies show.
Here's an easier to read version of the the Country Music People CD Review:
I Want My Honky Tonk Back
Watchin’ Wet Paint Dry / Dark And Cold / I Want My Honky Tonk Back / I Am Afeared / Unramblin’ Blues / TSA / We Hung The Moon / Sinners’ Grove / No Moleste, Por Favor / Cloak And Stagger / Forget The Mortgage / Down In Tulsa / Be Sincere / The Camino Producer: Kris Harris Coffeetonk Songs
The Heresies are from Colorado and describe their music as “Wry, Witty and Twangy Original Honkytonk Music”. The wit is evident from the get-go on Watching Wet Paint Dry, possibly the most traditionally honky tonk tune here, and frontman Kris Harris’ vocals are immediately engaging. The references to social media on Dark And Cold such as “You should change your avatar to a cheatin’ heart” are not only witty but bring their traditional sound bang up to date.
The fiddle in I Am Afeared, in which Kris Harris tells his lady if she’s going to love him she’s got to love his beard, gives the song a bit of a Jacques Brel feel. Again the wry wit is evident, and the song is terrific.
Of course, any band that titles their album I Want My Honky Tonk Back is going to grab my attention, and this debut features fourteen original songs. But The Heresies have more depth than most, and they delve occasionally into Gospel (Sinner’s Grove), Tex-Mex (No Moleste, Por Favor) and many of the songs have more of a mountain flavour than one might normally expect from a honky tonk band in a large part because of Chad Swiercinsky’s clawhammer banjo being quite forward in the mix. The rest of the band, Chris Budin on drums, Max Paley - bass, Jay Timp - lap steel, and Jay Genender on fiddle is more the traditional honky tonk set-up but these guys can seemingly do it all.
Fun is definitely the order of the day. I love the title Cloak And Stagger, and the song itself is a dark look at relying on the bottle. Down In Tulsa has all the feel of a truckin’ song, while Forget The Mortgage is vintage country with a twang... and a banjo, and it almost goes without saying that the title track, I Want My Honky Tonk Back, is awesome. It reminded me of something BR5-49 might have done, as do several others here.
This is honky tonk with a difference. There’s no denying The Heresies are a honky tonk band, but the instrumentation and variety of styles ensure they stand out from the crowd. They also have great artwork that I suspect comes from Kris Harris, as poking around on the internet to investigate them further it would appear he has an eye for design (and makes some wonderful speakers out of drums!) as keen as his ear for a decent tune.
The Heresies are a lot of fun, but while they don’t always take themselves too seriously, they are deadly serious about the music and I look forward to hearing whatever they do next.