(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

CD review - Nobunny, First Blood (2010)

First Blood is Justin Champlin's second studio album under his Nobunny alter ego. The rabbit head and other zany performance stunts can sell a live show and, by all means, catch them on their current February tour. But the First Blood sells itself just fine as a back-to-basics rock and roll album. Like the Violent Femmes or the Ramones, Nobunny idolizes a simpler era of pounding guitars, tightly focused arrangements, and straight ahead vocals. The musical aesthetics are all retro, but the lyrical perspective is much more modern.

There's humor and sincerity, but absolutely no irony. From the opener, Ain't It Shame, where he offers no apology for being a self centered horn dog, to the pure love of Breathe, which channels T.Rex's Bang a Gong (Get it On), Nobunny cuts straight to the heart of each song.

My favorite track is Blow Dumb, which kicks off as a straight lift of Sister Ray:
He's in the wagon, he's smokin' Copenhagen
We listen to the latest tapes
We's in the moon, for feelin' good
We take a burger break
We blow dumb
Yeah yeah yeah yeah
We blow dumb
B-L-O-W dumb
Unlike Lou Reed searching for his mainline, Nobunny is exuberant.

First Blood is full of familiar sounding bits like this. Something about Nobunny's frank love and manic joy avoids the sense of appropriation or poser derivation. Instead, the mix of Holly, Who, Stones, Ramones, Kinks, and Rocky Erickson is exultant. Nobunny's garage rock may be less punk than the Ramones, less quirky than the Femmes, and less hazed than the Velvet Underground, but it's a purely distilled essence of rock.

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