Tunabunny Not Faking It

Weird, they did it again. I’ve listened to the new Tunabunny album probably 10 times, but it wasn’t until tonight that it clicked with me.  This happened on their last album, but I thought I had them figured out and would immediately dig their second one, but there is something about this band from Athens, Georgia that keeps catches you off guard. Minima Moralia was recorded in apartments and houses and sounds lo-fi, but doesn’t subscribe to current trendy lo-fi aesthetic.  The band are hunkered down ignoring the world, flying in the face of fashion and making records on their own terms.

Tunabunny like their guitars sounding raw and they like you to hear the singing bleeding into the red on the recording console, making it sound like they’re in YOUR basement when you play this record loud. They use violin and keyboards economically in their songs, sometime to increase the dissonance and sometimes to reign you in from the noise. This summer’s brilliant single Solar Sister reappears, but everything else is new.  Songs like Fake It Faker are tense and taught. Perfect Time, Every Time is strangely funky, and then Cross Wire Technique is pure white noise and tin can funk, the kind fellow Athenians Pylon did in the 80’s. The record hums like an engine and blows out like a car crash at the same time.

Anything you read about Seattle grunge in the 90’s mentions how bands were making it up as they went along. Left to thrive in a vacuum far away from the rest of the world and its influence they came up with their own sound. That doesn’t happen much anymore because you are only isolated if you actively try to be isolated.  Tunabunny aren’t grunge, but seem to be working in their own self-imposed vacuum down in Athens, Georgia and Minima Morilia is like a thesis on how to do it on your own, in isolation and very well indeed.

mp3: Tunabunny – Perfect Time, Every Time  (Minima Moralia is out on HHBTM)

Tunabunny: Swimming, No Hopping In the Face of Fashion

Portrait by Julia Kay

Being an old curmudgeon, if I don’t like a band’s name I won’t give them a chance.  After all musical taste is all about aesthetics and if I don’t like the name, chances are I’m not going to like the music. There are tons of bands that reinforce that rule:  Crash Test Dummys, Vampire Weekend, Hoobastank, Deathcab for Cutie, Gay Dad, Dogs Die In Hot Cars, and the Cherry Poppin’ Daddys to name but a few.  Of course there are exceptions to the rule like Cats On Fire, Weedhounds, Prefab Sprout, and The The.  I would like to propose adding Tunabunny to my list of exceptions.

The Athens, Georgia band have just recently released their first album on their hometown label Happy Happy Birthday To Me. At first listen it was a dissonant and difficult record, but like the grumpy old guy in the movies, after you get know him, he turns out to be a sweetheart, well a sweetheart with thorns and burrs hidden about him.  What I’m trying to say is that it’s a grower.  Once you get used to the treble overload the songs begin to seep in.   Sometimes they kind of sound like hometown heroes Pylon at their most raunchy, or tender and scary like a Helium song, or freaked out in distortion like Boyracer, or just plane weird like little known LA pop freaks Charles Brown Superstar. It’s never obvious and you won’t immediately be in rapture, but if you give it a chance, the onion will peel which could result in stinging tears, something tasty, or both.

mp3: Tunabunny – Gasmasks

Order up a copy of the album on vinyl or cassette (what is this 1982 again?) from Happy Happy Birthday To Me.