Who: Vince Skelly (bass, vocals), Matt Radosevich (guitar, vocals), Jon Grothman (drums).
Sounds like: Jonathan Richman reuniting the Modern Lovers for a one-night-only gig in the basement of a coffee shop.
For fans of: Twerps, C86, Flying Nun Records, the Fall, Woolen Men.
According to the members of Portland garage-pop trio Honey Bucket, there are certain advantages to naming your band after a portable toilet manufacturer. For instance, you don't have to worry about coming up with your own schwag.
"I wrote to Honey Bucket and I was like, 'I'm in this band. Can you guys send us any merch we could give out at our shows or whatever?'" says singer-bassist Vince Skelly from a booth at Alberta Street Pub. "And they sent us this box of, like, T-shirts, mouse pads, patches, mugs, big stickers—"
"That's, like, my most coveted shirt," adds drummer Jon Grothman. "Anytime I wear it, people are like, 'Where the hell did you get a Honey Bucket shirt?'"
Of course, branding yourself with a name that invokes post-traumatic stress in anyone who's ever attended a musical festival has its drawbacks, too. For one thing, it's easy to be misunderstood. Early on, the band, which came up through the Portland house-show scene, fell in with Gnar Tapes, the goofball stoner-pop label where you might expect an act that ripped its moniker off the side of a plastic shithouse to land. But while its lo-fi aesthetic and affection for guitar pop's simplest pleasures jibed with the label's tastes, the group's more specific reference points—the Clean, the Fall, Brian Eno—reflected a greater sophistication than the association might let on.
With any luck, new album Magical World should correct the record. Released on Skelly's own See My Friends imprint, the album finds Honey Bucket reconciling Skelly and singer-guitarist Matt Radosevich's twee-punk melodicism with their artier inclinations, to charming effect. On songs like "This That," the band cuts its sweet jangle with a sudden free-jazz sax solo, while Skelly's lyrics—loaded with in-jokes about a friend's badly drawn Devo tattoo and a woman who takes her cat for walks—give the tracks a surrealist tint. Recording was a laborious process, at least in comparison to the tossed-off method of the group's previous tapes, and the final product satisfied the trio enough to go out and hire a publicist to help promote it. By the members' own admission, their ambitions haven't grown any grander—Skelly still calls it an "after-work project"—but the record is a reminder that just because you don't take anything else about your band too seriously doesn't mean the music has to suffer because of it.
"It was the hardest thing as a band we've probably ever done, and I'm super-proud of it," Skelly says of Magical World. "That's why we did the publicist thing. I just want to see if this thing we put so much energy into, if anyone else likes it."
SEE IT: Honey Bucket plays the Know, 2026 NE Alberta St., 503-473-8729, with Woolen Men and Wave Action, on Saturday, Aug. 13. 8 pm. Contact venue for ticket information. 21+.