Posts Tagged ‘The Fall’

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)

All Tomorrow’s Parties (Day Three)

May 21, 2010

“Do you want a goose for breakfast?”

My third day at ATP commenced with me staring bleary-eyed at my chalet-mate Mudguard (it’s best not to question the origins of the nickname, I’ve discovered) and wondering what on earth the above sentence could possibly mean. Swiftly coming to terms with the fact that I was still on the sofa, I learned that Mudguard had been woken up by the sound of geese honking outside his window. At 9am, I was not quite tempted by his offer to kill and cook one of the unbearably loud – dare I pun, ‘fowl’ – creatures, and politely declined.

Scrambled eggs were swiftly prepared as the day’s petit dejeuner, and I slowly attempted to process the events of the night before. Resigned to the fact that I didn’t come out of it too well, whatever way I looked at it, I put Your Heart Breaks on the stereo and slowly attempted to digest the Grauniad’s family section. Lo-fi twee and articles about teenage diaries could only hold my attention for so long, however, so instead I entered zombie mode and watched the Grand Prix for a bit. It’s fair to say that I do not get the appeal of motor sports. They’re rubbish, aren’t they? Who likes motor sports? Pfft. Although I’ll concede that Grand Prix makes a good case for being Teenage Fanclub‘s best album. So maybe motor sports aren’t all that bad.

Eventually I headed out to watch Wax Fang. They’d already played one set at the festival – covering Prince’s Purple Rain album in its entirety, and in costume – which I’d missed. Everyone seemed suitably enthused, however, and I enjoyed their own stuff. They were catchy, energetic and rockin’ in a Ted Leo sorta way, but unfortunately the morning’s zombification had done me few favours in the alertness stakes. Utterly spaced out, i opted out of booze for a bit. A little focus would have been nice right about this point.

I should have loved The 3Ds. Fizzy, old-skool lo-fi indie rock always excites me, and these veterans of New Zealand’s indie rock scene were pretty darn good at it. In the end I lasted half an hour before getting the sweats, and wisely decided to get some air. Air hockey, that is! Attempts at the official festival sport, with Time For Twee and her suitably cool compatriot Pete, provided little improvement to my rapidly-deteriorating consciousness, however. When even food failed to perform as an elixir, I conceded it was time to return to the chalet for half an hour’s nap.

The doze invigorated me somewhat. Pondering that I had now managed to spend all of two and a half hours in my chalet bed, I dashed out to see The Clean. The strains of their classic Anything Could Happen drifted across the air as I made my way to the arena, and I was disappointed that they’d finished playing the song by the time that I arrived. In any case, I was swiftly alerted to the availability of curry, and finally partook in my first full meal of the weekend. Truly, I was back in the room.

I dashed back to the arena, rested and refueled, knowing that beer was welcome in my stomach again. I felt positively victorious at this stage, despite not really having any reason to. Whilst browsing the merch for Wax Fang goods (verdict: i’ll buy them on the internet), I even bumped into Stewart Lee – a WHTB hero since around 1996 when I first saw Fist Of Fun. He was polite and friendly, and agreed to a picture (although his decision to throw his hood over his head at the last second renders the photographic proof somewhat dubious).

Lee was no doubt in attendance for The Fall, of course. Sticking largely to the new album, they veered between thrilling and dull, but happily my taste for beer returned at a fast enough rate for me to enjoy Mark E Smith’s rabble. I really wanted to follow them up with Enablers‘ set, but knew I’d already seen them before and instead headed to see the potential once-in-a-lifetime set by The Raincoats. They were a scrappy post-punk mess, and totally awesome with it. Say, what about a beer?

Closing sets by The Authorities (standard garage-punk) and Endless Boogie (proficient but dull jam band) proved little to us, other than that it was time to close the festivities by drinking and dancing ourselves silly. The Crazy Horse bar provided just the disco for us, spinning a variety of 6Ts, soul, reggae, old skool hip-hop and the occasional smattering of twee. I requested Born To Run only for the DJ to look at me quizzically and ask, “Who by?” If I couldn’t have Springsteen, I was surely in need of another beer.

At 2am the disco finished and we all headed back to our chalets. Mudguard and his delightful wife were having a cup of tea before bed, and i opened a can of lager to join in reflecting on the weekend. It had been pretty ace.

Finally, I managed to spend a night in my chalet bed.

ATP rules.