Get Lit(erary) with Tunabunny's Minima Moralia
Behind the buzz: Behold the prose accompanying the second album from this Athens, Ga., riot squad: "On last year's debut album, Tunabunny was out to destroy rock music. With Minima Moralia, they intend to redeem it." Oh, as they say, yeah. Well, my own much-abused tastes run to obnoxio noise, in-jokes in Latin and raw effrontery, so a more sympathetic reviewer for this parcel of art brats couldn't be built from spare parts lying around the publicist's office. Such base instincts are served very well by this brilliant album, which drops Sept. 27.
Today's dope: Literal pot luck, with fragments of Presidential, P. Dragon, and O.G. hash making a potent brimful.
Blondie, meet Beefheart: "Hurry Up" kicks things off with an ominous burst of speed and distracted grunting. "(Song for My) Solar Sister" sports an irresistible guitar hook along with Sixties garage-rock energy and ponderable lyrics. "Bury the Present" opens with a fat classic rock riff and ends with an exhausted moan, but "Perfect Time, Every Time" is more of a slow boil, with ragged harmonies stirring the pot before the track stylishly evaporates. "Cross Wire Technique" sounds like Hope Sandoval gone dingo, with spacey vocals trapped inside a relentless metallic Cuisinart whipping up to something frothy that's almost pop. Impressive as all this is at the midway point, the second half lunges into some truly crazed territory, with the hair-raisingly Yokoesque "Only at Night" folding into the New York Dolls-tinged "Killer of Sheep," which lures into nightmarish vistas before dropping us off with a sodden toy-squeak. "Subterranean" is brief side excursion into Krautrock Dante before the well-lit bleakness of "The Natural World" bobs us to the surface with only a severe case of the bends. The Runaways-style riffing and bouncy athletic beat ought to have Kim Fowley raising a permanently-cocked eyebrow. In this context, "Happy Song" comes off sounding like raised-fist Springsteenoid come-on, but "Electric Beach" lurches us out with a winsome shoegaze burndown. Recapitulating all the foregoing punky guitar-heroics in glorious, measured slo-mo, the band lays down every note with the august dignity of a well-placed brick.
Psychedelic verdict: Smart, tuneful, chockfull of arty self-confidence, with enough variation in the darker tones to hold anyone's fascination, even the most paisley-eyed stoner's.
Follow us on Twitter @SFAllShookDown, follow Ron Garmon @RockyRedGlare, and like us at Facebook.com/SFAllShookDown.