Bunnygrunt at Stereo Embers

Born in the tweedledum, B&S-addled mid-nineties (their 1995 Action Pants! debut is an aggro-primitivist lost classic of that most precious of canons), St Louis band Bunnygrunt has done what few bands have the guts, gumption, or reckless heart to do any more: they hit the neverending road and ground it out, criss-crossing the frayed ribbons of our once-mighty land like wayward indie pioneers in a combination Econoline van and Conestoga wagon, finding along the way a grueling redemption that has left them taut, lean, and beautifully jaded, experience etched into their collective psyche like an outlaw gang’s initials carved in a deathless oak. What’s resulted is a transformation, the band evolving via that truest and most mythical of American rock’n’roll litmus tests into a mini-rager of seasoned rock band, albeit one with that pulsing pureness of ramshackle spirit still under-girding the cumulative dimensions of noise built above it.

Though the CD and cassette versions sport eight additional tracks we think it best to treat it like the vinyl LP thatVol 4 was born to be. Within that framework you’ll find such gems and oddities as the Velvet Underground sounding like an apostate Monkees covering the Dwarves (marvelous closer “Still Chooglin’ [After…]”), Vaselines-like workouts (“Just Like Old Times,” “Gimme Five Bucks”) had those crafty Glaswegians somehow acquired a healthy layer of midwest American punk crust, a “Neat Neat Neat”-based rave-up studded with mega-nimble bass playing, a summer-driving guitar solo and abiding stoner modesty (“The Book That I Wrote”), plus a raucous live outing (“Frankie Is A Killer”) that morphs from a vague PiL bassline intro to Ramones-y new wave – while sounding exactly like neither – in the blink of a lager-lidded eye. Trophy, though, goes to the 7-minute opus of bolt-cutter pop “Chunt Bump,” titled like a Fall song but played like Rocket From The Crypt on continental holiday, an autobahn of sound repurposed for the Great Plains blue collar breadbasket.

Whereas “indie as fuck” can have multiple meanings these days and for good reason (gee, whatever happened to Animal Collective?), these guys earn that badge for all the right reasons. A resplendently American don’t-give-a-damn rock album that cuddles with its spikiness. √√√¼