Posts Tagged ‘Happy Happy Birthday To Me’

TUNABUNNY – Genius Fatigue

June 4, 2013

When we were 12, my friends and I formed a band. Our “skills” were best described as rudimentary, matching our shoddy equipment and a feeble understanding of what we were doing. In school, we sold cassettes of ourselves (it was the mid-’90s) trying to articulate the raw sounds that buzzed frantically around our heads; perched awkwardly over a one-channel recording device but oblivious to its restrictions; gleefully obeying the gnawing need to disregard our artistic limits and just create for creation’s sake.

We told our peers we were the greatest band in the world, perhaps even convincing ourselves that three Beatles-obsessed fuckwits using two pencils as drumsticks might be capable of bursting past the surface; melting through the slime; becoming a phenomena for the ages.

Naturally, we were shit. But it’s the most artistically “free” I’ve ever felt in my life – the only time I can honestly say that notions of “how things are supposed to work” (yawn!) or “other people’s standards” (fucksake) or “professionalism” (spit!) were irrelevances. When self-belief and necessity and an inability not to create drove everything more than aspiration or consideration for how other people might perceive it. It was liberating, it was wonderful, it was the impetuosity of youth illustrated in such glorious colours that it’s dazzling to look back. So yeah, I peaked with shitty tapes of poorly-recorded, woefully-played half-songs, and fuck, man, I miss that feeling.

I’ve not thought about this stuff for years (the joy, the excitement, the unrecreatable  sense of wonder), but Tunabunny bring it all flooding back.Genius Fatigue is the third album from the Athens, Georgia four-piece, following the nihilistic avant-sulk of their self-titled debut and its post-punk-inflected follow-up, 2011’s Minima Moralia. Together those two records formed a diptych positing the destruction and ultimate salvation of music; an artform which has chewed itself and spat itself out so many times that any deviation from the tried and tested feels like a minor victory. Rest assured: this band are far from ordinary, and this continues the frankly mind-boggling acceleration of their capabilities. A sped-up image of a flower; growing and bursting and blooming into being. It’s beautiful.

Take that frantic opener, ‘Duchess For Nothing’. Building from panting, staggered urgency to high speed roars of assertion, vocalists Brigette Adair Herron and Mary Jane Hassell kick and punch their way through the song’s two raggedy minutes as though the fate of the world depends on them. “She ain’t a parody of woman – she’s a screaming queen”, they declare, pounding transphobia to dust with voices not wildly dissimilar to those of the Deal sisters (never a bad thing). Lo-fi, raw and bruised, it ain’t the stuff top ten hits are made of. But it is the sort of thing wide-eyed kids fall for with unabashed, undying devotion. We’re so used to the forced passions and staged over-emoting of 21st century pop that it almost feels shocking to hear people actually singing from their hearts – that’s exactly what this record does.

Elsewhere their muse takes hold of dizzy psych (‘Serpents And Lights’), fractured, ethereal balladry (‘Airplanes In Echelon’) and dusty, damaged drone-pop (‘Wrong Kind Of Attention’). Topics leap from Hollywood nepotism to political insurrection, while echoes of Throwing Muses, Sonic Youth and The Fall fly around with heroic abandon, occasionally crashing into each other and tumbling into concussed piles underneath the whole wonderful mess. Tunabunny’s glory shines through in the way their incandescence is more audible than their battered, scratchy instruments – songs are captured upon creation, valuing the rawness of the art and the celebration of its completion far higher than less interesting matters like musical proficiency. The scope of their imagination wins out, and tremendously, triumphantly so.

The “genius fatigue” of the title refers to the band’s disillusion with the same old artistic figures being held up as sources of inspiration; of the same old source material being devoured and excreted and devoured and excreted, again and again, in increasingly tedious ways. Maybe it’s time we cast off the old guard and developed new ways of appreciating art. Let’s give up on championing the fixed legends of received wisdom and abandon notions of aspiration or imitation over genuine heartfelt artistry (after all, where have they got us? Fucking Mumford & Sons and Ed Sheeran, that’s where – a patriarchy of mediocrity and smooth-edged tedium). Why don’t we try celebrating ideas that challenge? Or cheer at the accumulation of potential, instead of glib approximations of overly comfortable sentiment? We need a revolution. Maybe, just maybe, Tunabunny are the band to lead the way. (8/10)

(Originally published by The Line Of Best Fit, 29/03/2013)

Teenage angst has paid off well

April 24, 2012

Good lord. Has it been that long?

I am immensely lazy.

Well, more to the point, I’m not. I’ve been very busy. But I’ve neglected you, dear old WHTB, and that’s got to change. Last year I decided I was going to use this page to review every single record I’ve been sent, which was a shit idea – blogs should be personal, so I’m gonna get back to the stuff I love.

So no more sifting through the review pile and gritting my teeth at the latest in a seemingly never-fucking-ending stack of godawful electronic shizzle and singer-songwriter dullness – or not on my own time, at least. Instead, here’s a couple of 7″s that have rarely strayed too far from my turntable over the past few months. Diggit:

 

MAZES/EAGULLS split

(Italian Beach Babes)

Two UK indie rock bands covering songs by fuzz legends The Wipers – pretty risky, no? Luckily, this is a doozy. Mazes do that whole Pavement thing with a minimum of fuss, all lacksadaisical jangles and privileged apathy. You can bet they write their own press releases and fill ‘em with words like ‘laconic’ and ‘arch’, but at least they get the simple things right. Eagulls, meanwhile, are utterly fucking awesome. Slop-gaze noise-punks with their eyes on nothing more than the beer they spilled all over their pedal racks, their own Possessed trumps the cover, bedecked in woozy guitars and nonchalant sneers. This record makes me wanna stand on street corners and throw fruit cocktails at yuppies. Seriously great.

 

BAM!BAM!  – Let It Go

(self-released)

Realistically, I’m not sure if I’d have found this band, had HHBTM‘s Mike Turner not pointed me in their direction. I’m so fucking glad he did, however – the above track Hi Fi Widows blew me away like nothing since Tunabunny’s (Song For My) Solar Sister last year. They remind me of Bratmobile, K Records and the years I idled away in shitty pubs’n’clubs, drinking shitty beer and hoping desperately that one of the bands on the bill would do more than merely not suck. If only BAM!BAM! had been around then, back when I really needed them. Now I’m teetering dangerously on the precipice of 30, almost too aware of my own mortality to commit to the moment and dance myself to delirium. Actually, scratch what I said earlier – I need them now. It takes something pretty fucking special to make me want to surrender it all and just feel aliveThis record does exactly that, and then some. Man, I really hope they come over to the UK.

I only wanna stare you down

September 9, 2011

It’s been ages, so let’s have another round of ‘songs i fucking love at the moment’, eh?

1. Tunabunny – (Song For My) Solar Sister

(From their forthcoming album Minima Moralia on Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records)

2. Cheap Girls – Pure Hate

(From their split 7″ with Lemuria on No Idea Records)

3. Sometimes Always – Be True

(From their free download EP on EardrumsPop)

4. OFF! – Upside Down

(From their First Four EPs compilation on Vice Records)

5. Sourpatch – Cynthia Ann

(From their forthcoming second album on Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records)

 

 

Bits and pieces don’t equal the whole

March 8, 2011

Yeesh, it’s been a while. Since then, labels have been kind (dumb? no, kind…) enough to send me stuff to review on these here pages. Which will happen in due course. Once I’ve given it all a fair few spins.

In the meantime, here’s one of those cop-out ‘what’s been blowing my mind lately’ posts. DIGGIT.

1. Sourpatch – Deli Dream

(from the totally superlative Mira Mija EP on Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records)

2. Cheap Girls – Ft. Lauderdale

(from My Roaring 20’s on Paper + Plastick… still not bored of this, somehow)

3. Hickey – California Redemption

(fuuuuck yeh! from s/t album reissue on 1234. i’m a latecomer to Hickey. they fucking rule)

4. Eux Autres – The City All To Himself

(stars of the first show to be promoted as a WHTB shebang recently. except on here, of course. from Cold City on HHBTM)

5. Bad Banana – Celery

(acoustic version of a great track from super-lo-fi pop-punks’ demo album. i heart the shit out of this band)