Album Review: The Sugar Hold’s ‘Sweet’


The Sugar Hold doesn’t play any specific genre of music, their milieu isn’t from any specific decade, and they truly don’t have any agenda other than to have a good time. They’re pure rock n roll. A lot of us believed that kind of innocent purity didn’t and couldn’t exist anymore. But it does; right here in upstate New York. 

Their debut album Sweet begins with the ultimate straightforward rock and roll song with a contemporary update based on how we talk and what we’re allowed to say these days:

“We’re gonna rock we’re gonna roll,
We’re gonna get fucked up tonight!”

Calling up John to see if’s up to party is a favorite pastime, or so it’s assumed after hearing “Reefer Call” (Photo credit: The Sugar Hold / Facebook)

The music is classic but the sentiments are right now. They’re not afraid to cuss or to tell you plainly what drugs they’re going to do – mostly marijuana – or what they really wanna do. This is a rock and roll free from censorship AND pretension. 

I mean it’s not entirely free. Track two “Walk of Shame” (a personal favorite) is about sneaking out of someone else’s apartment after a one-night stand. But in pure Sugar Hold style, it’s still a fun kind of shame, we’re not embarrassed to tell you all about the shame we feel in a straightforward, honest song. 

Likewise, all the music is as honest and straightforward as it gets. The guitar chords, the lead lines, and the solos (including a 30-second + solo believe it or not by bass player Matt Malone on ‘Vida’) are all pretty standard rock, surf, British invasion, early punk rock, and a little bit of indie fare. 

This means the groups they could actually be compared to like the Crickets, the Beach Boys, early Beatles or the Clash (or the Damned if you know who they are) are not gonna be bands they sound very much like given over fifty years of changes to production and instruments. 

Instead, The Sugar Hold puts together an eclectic mix of all the great rock bands from the 50s to today. That sounds like a slogan for a radio station I know. 

Please get this man a cheeseburger. (Photo credit: The Sugar Hold / Facebook)

The punkiest track is “Bozo,” a cross between an early Clash track and the Knack with a dollop of surf guitar. The funkiest song is “Good to Me,” a song about being bored and angsty with your crappy car even though honestly, it may not have everything you want but it’s got everything you need. 

The funniest song is probably “Salad,” lead vocals sung by Matt Malone with a joint lead guitar and bass line throughout “Let’s mix a salad up!” It’s also about smoking weed because why the fuck not? 

The most humble song is “TV Screen” (You’ll never see me on a tv screen/ You’ll never see me in a magazine); which, in case it wasn’t clear, is about these guys being totally cool with never becoming stars. They genuinely don’t care about making money or being really famous. And the way you can tell is their lack of artifice and their blatant honesty. 

It is one of those great ironies that if you’re not interested in any kind of fame or money you really wouldn’t bother making music. 

And, as often as they say they don’t try hard, “I’m gonna write a song… it shouldn’t take too long,” their songs are always well put together and plenty of oh-so satisfyingly rooted in a deep love of rock and pop music. 

The vocals are sweet, funny, and catchiest during the choruses during which lead guitarist Dan Clark and bass player Matt Malone often join in on vocals (sometimes crew calls and ‘hey hey heys’) with lead singer Mikey Baish. 

There’s even a standout single on which local vocal group the Hold on Honeys sing sweet, sassy 60s girl-group backup vocals on both chorus and every line in between — wait, is there a chorus on this one? Hmm, seems the whole song is one long chorus! Sweet. 

They’ve shown to hold their own at local venues, Hold on Honeys contribute a sweet accent with sassy, 60s-era backup vocals to one of the tracks on “Sweet.” (Photo credit: Zach Durocher)

This single, “Cheeseburger,” is the song you’ve heard by them and/or remembered if you’ve ever seen or heard them but haven’t heard the album yet. It’s a catchy tune with a catchy riff and the aforementioned ultra-sweet vocal highlights about, you guessed it, Cheeseburgers and how great they are. The campiness on this track flies into the stratosphere as Mikey sings ‘Somebody get me a cheeeesseeeebuuurrrggeer’ Big Bopper style. 

Sometimes the music does get a bit too honest, if there’s such a thing, like on “Last Night,” where lead singer Mikey Baish lists out the old slogans for different beers. Or “Reefer Call,” a minute and 42-second skit about the guys calling John up to see if he’s up to smoke weed, and I’m guessing that he usually is. 

But it’s always a good tune and a good time. It’s also full of surprises; the second to last track is a bike tune called “Motorcycle Boy” with a bunch of ‘hunka bunka hunka bunkas!’. The last track is a fully developed in-depth pop tune that wouldn’t be out of place on a Tom Petty greatest hits album; if they do develop further and get more into in-depth songwriting I’d guess this last track shows the way forward. And if not, great! 

Love ’em the way they are; cheesy choruses and clouds of marijuana smoke galore!

1 Comment
Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.