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Bunnybrains - Box the Bunny

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Artist: Bunnybrains

Album: Box the Bunny

Label: Narnack

Review date: Apr. 26, 2005

Mark Van de Walle’s 1994 essay “Spleen Dreams” was supposed to be about structuralist rockers Pavement. Van de Walle, however – in like some sort of tip-of-the-cap to Creem’s mid-’70s circumlocution – penned a paean to holism instead. According to ArtForum’s haute scribe, Pavement was nowhere and everywhere; like a giant, culture starved loofah, they lapped up the permanent, the ephemeral; the high and low, the virginal and the promiscuous – every binary opposite one might come up with.

Van de Walle’s points were interesting to say the least, but when connected they showed the shape of the wrong band: If any group can encapsulate points as tangential – and as absurd – as what Van de Walle attributed to Pavement, it’s New England’s Bunnybrains.

Box the Bunny, with its four discs of previously released material and a live DVD, is pretty epic, if not a bit intimidating. Not to worry, though; BB cover a considerable amount of ground over the course of the near four hours of music with equal parts of The Trashmen-meet-trash-rock, Hawkwind-esque overdrive, and just plain silliness.

Of course, this isn’t an accurate cocktail; listening to all of this stuff in one sitting would be akin to trying to finish off the complete oeuvres of Sun City Girls, Happy Flowers, The Frogs, and the Butthole Surfers in under 12 hours. To be sure, BB owes much to all four of these bands, but listening to Box the Bunny shows their crafty capability in mixing cultural honesty, crude mirth, and often-powerful music to great effect.

Examples? Disc 3 starts out with “Eg the Poet” calling out the fly-the-flannel generation: “Kurt Cobain was not your friend,” Eg begins, “he hated you all. You turned him into a cartoon. You bought all his records; you thought you were buying his soul.” And this type of critique is channeled into – or onto – their instruments. See disc 4’s “F98000 Cool White Ho,” for its sloppy Mascis string mangling and pie-in-the-face lyrics, which manage to eviscerate the whole of “electric white boy blues” for even attempting to trade feigned angst for a lay. When it’s over, it’s difficult to decide whether this was surreptitious social crit or Sovtek aided screech. If this is irony, it’s Socratic: This is a song meant to make others show their asses, not crawl up its own.

Not to say that this is music as message: Disc 1’s “I am not your friend (I am your destiny)” manages to combine the primeval violence of Harry Pussy with Flipper’s sole feel-good tune, Generic’s “Sex Bomb.” Conversely, “I Prize You (I Praise You)” straddles Siltbreeze and Drag City demarcation, deciding to forgo the title’s semantics and serve up some type of classic rock tribute that sounds like a Librium’d Monoshock attempting to cover Yahowa’s “Penetration.”

“There’s no sell-out because their desire is strength, it wants for nothing,” said Van de Walle of Pavement. But Pavement’s “nihilism” is worn and not so toothy. And Box the Bunny is a mound of evidence that Bunnybrains has incisors; they’re just key-wound and chattering in the corner.

By Stewart Voegtlin

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