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.

Sweaters By the Pound

Athens, Georgia label Happy Happy Birthday To Me reaches across the continent to pluck the Sweater Girls from sunny warm Los Angeles, California.  Having lived in SoCal, I know that you don’t really need many sweaters living there.  Although after living there for a while, the body acclimatizes, the blood thins and you end up thinking you’re cold when it’s 75 degrees because you’re used to 80.  That five degree difference is bone-chilling and a sweater can be just the thing.

Being that it’s summer you probably don’t need a sweater even in SoCal, but the Sweater Girls have put out a single that you do need.  The three song single that sold out of its initial pressing reminds me of the  Softies and the Cat’s Miaow.  They tread the fine line of too cute and passive aggressive which from an indiepop point of view is the sweet spot.  As luck would have it (actually thanks to Happy Happy Birthday To Me) I’ve got an extra copy of the Sweater Girls single up for grabs.  To put your hat (or sweater) in the ring send me an email  (finestkiss[@]gmail.com) with Sweater Girls 7″ in the subject line.  I’ll do some kind of random pick on Friday for the winner.

mp3: Sweater Girls – Haven’t Got a Clue (from the HHBTM single)

Sourpatch and the Space-Time Continuum

Emmett Brown did it using a Dolorean, a flux capacitor and 1.21 gigawatts of electricity. I read in this month’s CityArts magazine that University of  Washington professor John Cramer is trying to do it using photon lasers and crystals. Einstein even had a theory about it.  No question about it, physicists, Sci-Fi nuts and the general public are kind of obsessed with time travel. So, it’s pretty amazing that no attention has been paid to a little band from San Jose, California who have figured out how to do it with a record.

If you put on Sourpatch‘s record Crushin’ you will immediately be swept back in a whirlwind of fuzzy guitars, smile inducing choruses, and the general bliss of those heady days of the early 90’s when SpinArt, Slumberland, K, Pop Narcotic, Simple Machines, et al. ruled your stereo.  For those of you too young to have memories of that time, or not born yet, give it a try, it’s guaranteed to work for even you.  Who would have thought time travel would be so simple and cheap.  For the price of a record you can have a go.

Sourpatch are currently on tour and bringing their spring-time charm to the Pacific Northwest this week, they play Seattle on Thursday at 20-20 Cycles.  Check the dates below for a venue near you where the band will send you back in time:

Apr 5   Blast-O-Mat House (2935 w.7th ave.)  –   Denver, CO
Apr 6   Salt Lake City House Party! (1963 Evergreen avenue)  –   Salt Lake City, UT
Apr 7   The Office (5320 emerald)  –  Boise, ID
Apr 8   20/20 CYCLE (2020 East Union) – Seattle, WA
Apr 9   Vajay street house (1602 Vajay Street)  –  Bellingham, WA
Apr 10  Punk All – Olympia, WA
Apr 11  Portland – Portland, OR

mp3: Sourpatch – Crushin’

Order up your own personal copy of the time defying Sourpatch record from their label, Happy Happy Birthday To Me.

I’ve Hit a Sourpatch

Sometimes it takes me a while to get the message, but I like to think that after a while I smart enough to figure it out, with a little help of course.  It’s 2009, but Sourpatch sound so much like 1992 SpinArt/Slumberland that it’s kind of freaky.  Think I’m kidding?  Take a listen and tell me you don’t hear  parts Lorelei, Velocity Girl, the Swirlies and a little bit of Small Factory and Tiger Trap for good measure from this San Jose, California band.  To date they have a self-released demo, a free EP courtesy of WIAIWYA’s virtual singles series and an awesomely fun video which you can see below.  This flying below the radar thing is all about to change because Athens, Georgia’s Happy Happy Birthday To Me will be releasing the band’s first album early next year.  If you take a look at you calendar, that’s not too far off.

Psych Pop Week: Afternoon Naps

The Bennefits of Afternoon Naps
Image by Daniele Young taken from the Afternoon Naps MySpace

Welcome to day three of psych pop week here at the Finest Kiss. No we won’t be going down memory lane talking about bands like the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, Love, Left Bank, the Elephant 6 Collective, or Witch Hazel. Instead we’ll be covering some new records that dip their feet into the psychedelic ink jar.

Day three takes us to Cleveland, Ohio and the Afternoon Naps.  Their second album is called Parade, and has just been released by Happy Happy Birthday to Me on limited edition CD and LP (their 2007  album Sunbeam was self-released).  You may not equate Northeast Ohio with psychedelic pop, but there is some precedence in bands like Youngstown’s Human Beinz and the afore mentioned Witch Hazel who were from Kent. Parade  is a study in sublime pastoral sunbeams, and just the thing to help you get through the gray cloudy days of winter.  It’s bright pop hooks and production are along the same lines of the Essex Green and Ladybug Transistor.  In the indiepop universe studies have shown that listening to the Afternoon Naps is more effective than light treatment in treating Seasonal Affective Disorder, so go ahead put it on an brighten not only your day but your outlook on life.

mp3: Afternoon Naps –  Bubblegum 45 (from Parade, buy from HHBTM)

Goth Girls

The last time I checked there wasn’t a goth revival happening, well the Sisters of Mercy are back together and Joy Division have never been more popular, but there doesn’t seem to be  a ton of bands aping that style so much these days.  Maybe I’m on to something here, a new goth revival?  Lolligags anyone? I doubt it, and in the Lolligags case they sound goth, but certainly don’t look goth.  Their sound verges towards the synth heavy goth sound,and being from Athens, Georgia, (at least half of them) you might be inclined to say they have taken the B-52’s influences and colored them with a black crayola crayon.   It’s very poppy in a  Dead or Alive or a Missing Persons quasi-goth way, or even the Cure with the plunging bass line on All the Deer Daughters.  Their songs have an overtly dance-y element to them, but Dallion’s voice has this wounded quality to it that gives you the impression that the music may sound fun, but there’s something dark beneath the surface.  On paper the Lolligags certainly wouldn’t be considered goth, but form me it’s one of those je ne sais quoi things that are difficult to explain.  The sum of the Lolligags is certainlyy much more than the individual parts.  The band currently have two ep’s both on Athens based label Happy Happy Birthday To Me,  with the latest called Out of Perversity Join Hands.

mp3: Lolligags – Sister Lover

buyOut of Perversity We Join Hands

The second band in my anecdotal goth resurgence post is Los Angeles band Blue Jungle.  They are a five piece who seem to evoke the more primal goth sound.  Though based in L.A. the band hail from all corners of South America.  (dark gothic) blue jungleThey’ve got a killer sound that has bits of Altered Images, Lick the Tins, Siouxsie, X and the Cramps.  Singer Lately Blu Blu has a crazy innocent sounding yet all too knowing voice and the band definitely know their way around a pop hook.  Blue Jungle being based in the entertainment capitol of the world and all,  I can’t believe that they’ve had to essentially self-release their record.  Ten years ago labels would have been banging down their door to put this out. Oh how times have changed.  No matter, taking matters into their own hands they’ve just released their first album on Anti Fiesta Records, it’s called Baby Don’t Cry and if you hurry you can probably still get 1 of the only 500 vinyl copies the band pressed.

mp3: Blue Jungle – Los Angeles

mp3: Blue Jungle – Mean Things

buy: Baby Don’t Cry

Here are some upcoming Blue Jungle dates:

Feb 26 El Jardin – Northridge, CA
Mar  1 Que Sera –  Long Beach, CA
Mar  7 Pehrspace – Los Angeles, CA
Mar 18 SXSW      –  Austin, TX
Apr  2 Soda Bar  – San Diego, CA
Apr  3 The Smell – Los Angeles, CA
May 16 Spaceland – Silverlake, CA