AOTW: Nobunny

Nobody told Nobunny that punk is dead. Never the matter, he probably would not accept it anyway. Grown men dressed as maniacal rabid bunny rabbits tend to march to the beat of their own drum… and bass, and wily guitar riffs. The Oakland, California born one-man-band Nobunny certainly does just that.

The artistic expression of Justin Champlin (the man behind the moniker) takes the form of raucous Dada spewing live shows that showcase all pertinent forms of punk, power pop, and garage rock. A tidy little package of brittle tunes that scoff at the idea of music as a soothing agent. Champlin instead embraces the much beloved but not often enough enacted essence of the true birth of rock n’ roll as raw, unadulterated (sometimes) melodic catharsis. And while some might view his costume choice as too kitschy to swallow without indigestion his obvious appreciation for the tenets of light- hearted and socially subversive rock n’ roll are hard to refute. It is precisely this well-executed sensibility that keeps Nobunny buoyed in his self-flooded ocean of shtick.

For those already loyal to Champlin’s work his recently released second album First Blood should come as a pleasantly skewed follow-up to his first LP Love Visions (2008). Put out by Goner Records this new recording displays thickly 70’s influenced backbeats woven into dirty pop- driven melodies. The record’s track “Blow Dumb” brings to mind the beautifully original, poignant yet understated style of Lou Reed with an even-paced walk-boppin’ rhythm. While “Gone For Good” is a grade-A road song bringing to the minds-eye visions of flying down open highways with its motor revving bass and drum sinews.

While First Blood is officially Nobunny’s second album the band has released many singles and random collections of outtakes over the past few years, including a 2009 Burger Records little ditty by the name of Raw Romance that was released on cassette only (!) with the first 500 copies hand-numbered. The band also played at Third Man Records studio in Nashville, Tennessee in May of this past year, in a live concert that was recorded to analog tape and released on vinyl by Jack White’s label Third Man Records.

Citing such clearly felt influences as The Ramones, The Cramps, and another one-man-show, Hasil Adkins; Nobunny combines garage punk and pop induced chaotic but cohesive harmonies via lo-fi recordings. And yes, the warbled resonance of purposefully shitty recording materials has the desired effect of putting an even grimier face to the band’s already soot- streaked sound.

Some of the Nobunny collection has a 60’s Brit-pop/more neatly compacted precursor to punk feel. Whether to or not to interpret these as tongue-in-cheek performances is up to you. At any rate perhaps we shouldn’t put too much pressure to be serious on a performer who regularly takes to the stage in his underwear wielding firecrackers. Heck, we let Christina Aguilera get away with it… The thing to do while listening to a Nobunny song at home on your sound system or at one of his wacky shows is to sit back and enjoy the free-wheelin’ anthropomorphic ride. Yeehaw !

Nobunny Tour Dates

October 14-Uptown- Oakland, CA

October 31- Thee Parkside- San Francisco, CA

November 10- Spaceland- Los Angeles, CA

– Amanda Decker

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