Tunabunny | Genius Fatigue
by Lee Adcock
So, all you readers in the UK – can you find the state of Georgia on a map? I’d say about 95% of the Welsh folk I spoke with while I lived in Swansea didn’t have a clue. OK, fine. Understandable. But surely you savvy music lovers have heard of Athens, GA, yes? Where R.E.M pledged to be automatic for the people, the B-52s built their love shack, and Jeff Mangum launched his aeroplane over the sea? It’s a crowded little college town, with steep side alleys, curious old architecture, and bursts of art (like the vibrant, airbrushed mural of a phoenix in flight, which fascinated me to no end as a kid – the health store that bore that bird’s namesake has long been closed, however).
Athens has been my obsession for many a month now. Come August, I’ll be settling into a friend’s condo and studying journalism at the University of Georgia; so, until then, I’ve been driving up and down and around the one-way streets and winding paths, mastering old routes and discovering new ones. Inevitably, though, my wanderings always gravitate toward the poster-smothered front of Wuxtry Records – and it was here, back in April, that I bought a thin paper sleeve encasing a CD from a band called Tunabunny.
Tunabunny? Yes. Tunabunny. Two girls, two guys, one glorious mess of a band. Tight-knit, instantly infectious, and immediately memorable. Since acquiring that little CD – Genius Fatigue, it’s called – many of the tracks have embedded themselves firmly in my mind, as if I’ve known them for years. Not because Tunabunny sound distinctly like any other band, but because they share a kindred spirit with the other slackers and rag-tag rock bands that I adore, from Pere Ubu to Pavement to even a shade of Minutemen (just, you know, without Mike Watt – although Scott Creeny’s a deft hand at bass, himself). And, most importantly (to me, anyway), because guitarist/vocalists Mary Jane and Brigette aren’t pitch-perfect diva types, or boring monotone dream pop types, or macho riot girls. They’re real, honest-to-god chicks with tangible emotions and passions, pouring out their own hearts and souls into the tunes they’ve crafted.
Tunabunny kick off Genius Fatigue with the best possible opener, ‘Duchess for Nothing’, a tune that that blasts down the doors and commands your attention with exuberant vocals and . Then, in a 180 twist, ‘Serpents & Light’ is a sweet little number, a blend of friendly riffs and tender harmonies. Then Tunabunny flip again, to build up the cerebral chant of ‘You Do What You Want’ alongside a rip-roaring guitar solo. Most surprising, however, is the stark ‘Airplanes in Echelon’, where an undulating wave of guitar noise overlays a simple acoustic strum as one of the girls sings a lovely yet somber melody. Another impressive outlier, ‘Wrong Kind of Attention’, is a cautionary tale that unfolds casually over a sleepy bass rumble, which the local fauna chime in on midway through.
Without a doubt, however, Tunabunny realize their full potential on ‘Form A Line’. Imagine a track that could compete with the brightest and most memorable of Wire’s later works (the classic belter ‘Map Ref 41 Degrees N 93 Degrees W’ springs to mind) – the driving clockwork beat, the rambunctious and instantly endearing riffs, and that gorgeous bridge featuring only the girls’ sterling harmony all add up to one glorious, sun-soaked single. Not too far behind, though, is the marvelous ‘Hollywood Unincorporated’, which reaches an elated peak in the chorus that sticks in the head for days. And ‘Government of Throats’, the closer, rocks as righteously as the Breeders, wrapping up the album with a pounding surge.
To conclude – though Genius Fatigue was released last year, it’s quite possibly one of the most endearing LPs I’ve bought in 2013. Parquet Courts garnered international fame a months back for bringing back the American underground – and Tunabunny deserve just as many, if not more, accolades for springing off that movement and molding their own sound.
Tunabunny tour the UK from tomorrow and play the following dates;
17th – London @ the Grosvenor w/ Ethical Debating Society, My Therapist Says Hot Damn
18th – Brighton @ the Hope w/ Ethical Debating Society, Slum of Legs, Flowers
19th – Bristol @ Cafe Kino w/ Personal Best
20th – Cardiff @ Buffalo Bar w/ Tarsiers, Radstewart
22nd – Liverpool @ Mello Mello w/ Puzzle, 10p Mixes
23rd – Glasgow @ the Glad Cafe w/ Spook School, Woog Riots
24th – York @ the Basement w/ Cowtown
25th – Nottingham @ the Maze w/ Cars Can Be Blue, Spook School, Big Wave
26th – Preston @ the Continental w/ Lovely Eggs, the Pastels
27th – Derby @ Indietracks w/ the Pastels, Bis, Camera Obscura, Cars Can Be Blue
28th – Leeds @ Wharf Chambers w/ Cars Can Be Blue (Queer We Go Festival)
29th – Sheffield @ Audacious Artspace w/ Cars Can Be Blue, Cowtown
31st – London @ Buffalo Bar w/ Ethical Debating Society, Cosines
Genius Fatigue is out now and you can buy it here.