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NoBunny - First Blood

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Artist: NoBunny

Album: First Blood

Label: Goner

Review date: Sep. 21, 2010

NoBunny is a guy who strums out gravity-free pep pills while wearing skivvies and a bunny mask. When that’s the frontman, soul-baring confessions and experiments aren’t going to happen. Mr. NoBunny plays rock ‘n’ roll, not rock. This record is concise and absurd. Like all good rock ‘n’ roll, the songs won’t say much about the person performing them, at least not directly. In our please-think-about-me world, wearing a mask without any particular desire to be anonymous is a feat unto itself. Most rock ‘n’ rollers can’t stay in character forever. Just this year, dependable boppers Mark Sultan and Thee Oh Sees opened albums with long jams. But for now, we’ve got First Blood, and it’s a good ‘un.

The type of songs Mr. NoBunny makes are forever associated with the 1950s, even if rock regularly resets the clock to this kind of thing. The details of this particular collection owe as much to the glittery reset of the early ‘70s. “Blow Dumb,” with the lines like “He’s in the wagon / He’s smoking Copenhagen / We listen to our favorite tapes” is mascara-era Lou Reed. And the viola that swoops through “Breath” signals T. Rex, even if he has to whistle along to get the feeling of a whole string section backing his plodding blues. But like those guys, NoBunny makes songs that are light on the surface, with modern proclivities oozing out the seams.

The songs are delivered innocently, like they’re still chafing against the repression we’ve decided ended in the ‘50s. So even when NoBunny serves up the single-entendre “(Do the) Fuck Yourself,” he’s, uh, wide-eyed about it. He’s having a good time. You should have a good time, too. Any ironic distance, and it would be kinda gross.

This rabbit can spew some serious jive. He’s rapid as an auctioneer, and it brushes aside the obviousness of his influences. “Never Been Kissed” is all pumping piano, guitar flooding with Chuck Berry clichés. The end of each verse bends unexpectedly, though, and just like Chuck, he tells a story with a beginning, middle and end long before the two-minute mark is in sight.

Yeah, it’s a guy in bunny mask, but it’s more than novelty music. Right now, when so much guitar music in buried in echo and brooding fuzz, it’s novel.

By Ben Donnelly

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