Born To Be A Motorcycle
There are so many bands out there, let me tell you -- as if you didn't know that. But there are. Lots of them are good. Even more of them aren't. And a few are incredible. In the midst of incredibleness, it's not fair that the really good ones somehow wind up with the short end of the stick. They don't get the same press: the love from Spin or Pitchfork or Paste or whomever are the arbiters of incredibility these days. And that's a damn shame.
Bunky are a good case in point. They aren't trying to send the scenster kids into bouts of orgasmic frenzy like Arcade Fire or Broken Social Scene, but what they lack in "indie cred," the sure as hell make up in pop songcraft, as well as actual underground credentials. Bunky is essentially Emily Joyce and Robert Rafter -- both gainfully employed as recording engineers -- and a variety of fellow San Diegoans in support. Their music is basically rock and roll, complete with boy-girl vocals, wailing guitars, erratically imaginative drumming, and the occasional Motown/So-Cal horn section arrangement. There's alot of 50s and 60s rock worship in these pop gems, but enough good-old 21st Century ingenuity so that it don't sound stale or tired. Bunky write pop sings with kick, pop songs with attitude, and pop songs with wide-eyed wonder.
If there were such a thing as Peter, Paul and Mary for 2007, Bunky would be it. Songs like "Chuy," "Gotta Pee" and "Funny Like the Moon" scream Yo La Tengo for the younger set. Maybe that's not a fair comparison, because Bunky are as different from Yo La Tengo as the Tengo are from the Velvet Underground. It's all a matter of perspective, I guess. Bunky make quirky little pop gems that you'd have to try with all your might not to like. It's not worth the effort. And besides, why would you not want to enjoy hella fun romps "Glass of Water"? With Rafter's nasally repeated desire for a cup o'agua followed by some bee-sting guitar fuzz, transitioning nicely into a muted trumpet solo, which leads us into the following track, a faux-attempt at tearjerk-pop appropriately called "Heartbunk."
And they're singable, too. Did I mention that? "Cute Not Beautiful" allows Rafter and Joyce to trade verses -- Rafter's near whisper calling to mind Ira Kaplan at times. But thankfully, Joyce's vocals are all her own, romantically ringing above trumpet and hushed guitar, inducing chills when she reaches high into the register, creating a memorable sort of VU/Diana Ross mashup. It's good stuff by far. And deserving of more attention. Unfortunately the youth-set moved on from truly fun music long ago, sometime when MTV decided sexy was more important than merriment and goofiness, and everyone else just sort of gave up and followed suit.
Thank God no one told Bunky. Though it's too soon to tell if they'll wind up being one of those bands who release good record after good record, hopefully one of these days they'll get their due along with great American bands like the Flaming Lips and Yo La Tengo. Until then, I guess they'll just be our boisterous little rock 'n' roll secret.
San Diego has got it good.
(Sadly, one can barely hear the horn section)