HUNNY: Stirring The Indie Pop Rock Pot

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The irony radar which we all like to think we possess seems to become less effective as time wears on, and music videos like “Rebel Red” by the band HUNNY certainly don’t help matters. It’s hard to tell just how serious they are with this low-fi production in which lead singer Jason Yarger sports a Hawaiian shirt (to paraphrase The Breakfast Club, does “Weird Al” Yankovic know they raid his wardrobe?), four female would-be dancers back him up in what seems more like a high school production than what even a modest video budget should be able to afford, and lip synching ceases completely for a short time in the middle of the video even though the song continues.

Basically, this whole HUNNY video invites three more capital letters: WTF?

A few things about HUNNY are not in question. They’re from Newbury Park, a section of greater Los Angeles. The band is comprised of Yarger, guitarist Jake Goldstein, bassist and keyboardist Jason Grimmett and drummer Joey Anderson. They formed in the early 2010s and a couple of years ago signed with Epitaph Records, the legendary punk label started by Bad Religion guitarist Brett Gurewitz in 1980.

Once all this is out of the way, we’re sort of back to many matters being subjective, as even HUNNY seems to think they’ve yet to strike the perfect balance between every aspect of what they do. “We’ve always sounded better live,” Yarger told Teal magazine in 2017. “It’s been a challenge capturing what we’ve done live [on record].” The response the band has gotten live so far, at least, would seem to support this. “[Fans] are willing to be so invested in your band and [there’s] a lot more of a rapport and a unique closeness… That’s the most surprising thing to me because I feel that’s what separates kids now from a lot of previous generations.” (Your Deadhead uncle would probably beg to differ, but the point is taken).

“We love albums but the attention span of [this era] makes it a little difficult for anything to stick or really be impactful,” Yarger told Thrasher magazine in 2017. “We could drop the ‘long-awaited debut album’ and two weeks later the kids are on Twitter asking for new shit. We realized it’s probably better for us to be ahead of the whole thing.”

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Music as a whole right now seems to be in a kind of tug-of-war over this issue. Many feel that the vinyl resurgence clearly shows that album-length releases are not only alive and well but on the upswing. Others, however, would side with Yarger and HUNNY: even Sheryl Crow stated that she would no longer construct or release full-length albums, despite having sold 12 million of them.

It’s probably because of this approach that as far as their studio output goes listeners have only gotten so far, well, a taste of HUNNY, with their most extensive releases being two EPs of five songs each. Packaging is hardly elaborate either, with generic titles (Windows I and – wait for it! – Windows II) and cover art featuring bland stock photos hardly worthy of Andy Warhol or Annie Lebovitz).

Still, for a band that seems to consider their studio output to be secondary (something else Uncle Deadhead would appreciate), almost all the tracks on HUNNY’s two EPs are explosive, up-tempo songs accented by slick, 80’s style production, often reminiscent of the Tubes, or the Cure in their more pop moments (the standout exception is “Your Love Song Part I,” sounding like a rough demo – which it probably is – illustrating that the band hasn’t lost touch with their raw, DIY side).

If Yarger and his band mates think of themselves as a live act first and foremost, they’ll be able to prove themselves once again in that very environment this spring as part of a tour that also features Knuckle Puck, Citizen and Oso Oso. Their name is misspelled but somehow still worthy of being in all caps… and that should tell you everything you need to know about HUNNY.

WRITTEN BY RICHARD JOHN CUMMINS

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