The Bunny Gang – Thrive3rd November 2014
I am going to start with a simple message to you all. The message is thus: YOU MUST BUY THIS ALBUM.
The Bunny Gang hail from Denver Colorado but recorded Thrive, their second album, at Sonic Ranch Studios in El Paso, Texas. I heard their first album, White Rabbit, when it came out back in 2009 but have to admit didn’t make the connection until a couple of days ago, when I had a lightbulb moment, that this was the same band (yes I know, there can’t be too many bands called The Bunny Gang). That said this album is far superior than it’s predecessor. The production of the album is so smooth, the producer, Ryan Hewitt, must have put the finishing touches to it with a jack plane. He allows every instrument on the album to have a voice, and similarly allows Nathen Maxwell’s [actual] voice to guide you through 11 songs of rebellion and injustice but with the balance of solidarity and hope. So good are Maxwell’s words that they have been locked in my head since the first listen of Thrive 5 days ago.
The album is labelled as being for fans of The Clash and Bob Marley and there are certainly comparisons to be found, especially on the numbers Sirens Through The City (The Clash) and Thrive (Marley). But to suggest that this is all that Thrive has to offer would be doing the album a serious injustice. Thrive is a multi-faceted piece of musical mastery. Truly, I can’t find a bad thing to say about this album. Opening track The Reckoning, serious in its lyrical content, also introduces us to Maxwell’s vocal melancholia, a quality that if absent would leave this album wanting. Sirens Through the City absolutely tips it’s cap to latter years Clash and does so with such knowing and regard that the band could not be punished for such a ode. The same can be said for Illegal Market and Thrive only this time their dedication is to the Reggae and Dub genres.
It is with Beach Coma and Waves that The Bunny Gang change Thrive’s direction and prove themselves as a band that can stand alone regardless of the platform sharing of artists gone by. Beach Coma‘s ballad-esque subtleties are layered upon the dual guitars of Maxwell and Nat Lort Nelson, giving an almost calypso feel to the track before the chorus takes off and you feel that you are lost somewhere on the edge of summer. Waves is an interesting track in that it is an instrumental peice and one that is in stark contrast to it’s predecessor. Here are feelings of loneliness and solitude that would be a fitting soundtrack to a pre-dawn drive through a sodium lit city. A song of contemplation and reflection initialy reminiscent, if only slightly, to The The’s Lung Shadows. Effervescent guitars give the track a ethereal quality quite unexpected on an album like Thrive. We Are the ones, complete with marching drum intro, takes us back to the real meaning of this album; rebellion and uprising. The chorus of the band chanting “We are the one’s we have been waiting for” temps us to thinking that we may actually have been waiting for this band for some time, but hey now they are here lets celebrate. Skilfully the band choose to follow with Uprise Underground, further evidence of The Bunny Gang’s passion for challenging the establishment and provoking a reaction from the listener.
The three remaining tracks on the album continue with the skill that the band promised the listener the minute their sound hit your ears. Great guitar riffing is evident on Pave the Way, whilst Running offers insight into the bands’s more tender moments. Album closer Canoe Dub is a beautifully crafted (you guessed it Dub beat) track which showcases Maxwell’s drums, Michael Peralta’s bass and Mike Blecha’s keys but solidifies the band as a unit that can take a jam and create a song that Thrive would be incomplete without.
In summary The Bunny Gang have created an album that is a gift to the world. Each individual track is golden but together these 11 songs turn Thrive into a voice capable of being heard above the crowd. Whist perhaps passive in its sound and nature it is clear that Thrive sends out a quietly aggressive message of revolution. In fact so good is Thrive that I have played it back to back a number times already. And as the opening sample of Waves suggests “your’e gonna have to listen to it again otherwise you won’t realise what you just heard’.