EP REVIEW: Muddy Bong Tree – ‘Honey’

Words by Shannon-Lee Sloane – The Colourful Writer

If there is one good thing that has come from lockdowns, isolation and staying at home due to the pandemic that has hit our delicate world and the human race, it’s the substantial amount of amazing music coming from musicians, bands and artists everywhere. Here in Brisbane and surrounding areas, I have seen an impressive amount of new music across all genres and it warms my music loving heart as much as an oven warms a home after baking sweet cakes and treats. 

Muddy Bong Tree is the new musical project from three musicians who have been individually and collectively making music for many moons. Made up of husband and wife team, Kenneth and Nina Weaver, and their housemate, Andrew Ring. The trio clearly have a special connection that is relayed into their music. 

Ken and Nina also own and run one of the most atmospheric live music venues in Ipswich, Banshees Bar & Artspace. So when their beloved live music venue had to temporarily close due to Covid-19, they didn’t waste their time at home, they created Muddy Bong Tree and wrote and recorded their debut EP, ‘Honey’. Now, anyone who knows the live music scene in Ipswich would be aware, Ken and Nina used to run The Coronation Hotel and when that unfortunately had to close down, this creative, musical couple created Banshees. Do you see a trend here? For me, it is very clear, this pair don’t waste time without creative and musical endeavours in their lives. And for that, I just love them. These are my kind of people. 

In addition to liking this band as people, I love their music too, their new EP is a radiant display of their talent. In fact, it took my breath away the first time I tuned in. With divinely delicate vocals that remind me of a mixture of Kate Bush, Angie Hart (Frente) and Jodi Phillis (The Clouds) from Nina, backed up with Ken and Andrew sharing the roles of playing guitar and bass on various tracks with a good friend, Chris Andrews on drums. Says Ken: “During the lockdown we wrote, recorded and mixed the songs at home and at the bar we own, Banshees. We asked a drumming friend, Chris Andrews, to help out on percussion.” Ken, Nina and Chris played together in their previous band, Tiger Street which saw some local success with their single, Only This, reaching number 5 in the 4ZZZ Hot 100 of 2015.

The music and lyric writing is shared by the three creative minds of Ken, Nina and Andrew. Whilst the songs do differ slightly in style and sound from track to track, there is a clear 90’s Alternative vibe throughout the EP mixed with elements of Art Rock, Indie Rock and Folk. I hear influences, inspiration or vibes from bands and artists such as The Waifs, The Clouds, Kate Bush, Frente, Jebediah, Something For Kate, Radiohead and The Audreys. 

The opening track is Hannah. The riffs in this song give me memories of early Jebediah tracks and the vibe has me reflecting on my teenage years. The Fool is next. A funky bass line, heavier riffs and a deeper, slightly darker vocal gives a different feeling to this track. It’s cool and collected, and for some reason, takes my imagination to the band members walking with purpose down a dusty dirt track. While playing their respective instruments and Nina singing while kicking up the dirt. The music has got an earthy vibe. And I absolutely adore the lyrics to this one:

Truth is the colour of a ripe fig.
A bruise of fact and reality.
Indifferent to affect.
Iron red in resolve.

Play the Fool so I can love you.

Lies from gilt-edge words glitter and blind.
Sleights of phrase sculpted in pyrite moulds.
Ignorant of their burden.
Silver cold gambles.

Play the fool to mask your truth.
Play the fool to serve me lies.
Play the fool so I can love you.

Next up is the title track Honey, the first single released from the EP, along with a music video filmed while in lockdown on Nina’s phone. The music video features Ken and Nina as ‘The Owl and the Pussy-Cat’. Nina explains “We have partly taken our group name, Muddy Bong Tree, from a line in one of my favourite poems, The Owl and the Pussy-Cat, by Edward Lear. Who doesn’t love fantasy stories about travel, runcible spoons, and anthropomorphic animals eloping?”

The song itself is as sweet as honey. The softly played music behind Nina’s lolly-like vocals and lyrics clearly about love, a deep honey dipped love. A deep, enveloping love. The kind of love everyone dreams of and if you are lucky to find in this lifetime, you must hold onto tightly. I can imagine this song being played at weddings or on soundtracks to shows or movies when lovers embrace. Though the depth of the song also gives off a certain sadness. It’s incredibly emotive. I can feel the emotions poured into this song. It’s raw and it’s real. 

The Road Between Us is another heart wrenching, emotion filled track. I feel like the band really poured their hearts into this release. There is just so much feeling from track to track and while I don’t know for certain exactly what each song is about because as with any art form, it is open to personal interpretation. But I feel as though they are all written from the heart, from life experiences and from influences that mean a lot to them. I also feel as though the songs flowed organically. I think something that is an unfortunate downfall of some bands and musicians is that they simply try too hard with their music, overthink things, rather than letting it flow naturally. This entire EP feels like it came effortlessly and that creates an overall feeling of ease and comfort upon listening. Even if this is not your style of music, I’ll bet it has you feeling relaxed when you tune in. 

The EP wraps up with Lady Chatterly’s Lover and at 1:07, this is a super short track. Says Andrew: “My favourite song is Lady Chatterley’s Lover because the world needs more songs about impotent men.” Enough said.

Muddy Bong Tree’s music is as unique, individual and creative as those who make up the band. It’s something really special and something very positive to come from three creative minds forced into lockdown due to the world’s upheaval and disturbance of ‘normal’ life as we know it. You can’t have a rainbow without a little rain, and Muddy Bong Tree’s debut EP ‘Honey’ is certainly a rainbow in my world. I highly recommend you listen to its colours.

Follow Muddy Bong Tree and listen to ‘Honey’ here:

Facebook // Instagram // YouTube // Spotify // SoundCloud // Bandcamp

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