Bay Area Rock Roundup, Part 2
Nobunny, the bunny-masked alter ego of Oakland rocker Justin Champlin, has been performing since 2001. He had his first full-length release in 2008 with Love Visions on Bubbledumb Records, and last fall he released his follow-up, First Blood, on Goner. Between that, in 2009, there was Raw Romance, a cassette-only release composed of new songs, covers, and acoustic alternates to favorites from Love Visions. With only 500 hand-numbered copies of Raw Romance in circulation, it garnered a cult following. Now Burger Records is releasing it remastered on vinyl, and the first 300 copies on pink vinyl.
Raw Romance starts out with a Buffalo 66 sample, and then plunges into "Your Mouth." It's a simple, sweet song with risque PG-13 lyrics, ornamented with tambourine, handclaps, and whistling. A nod to Nobunny's own appearance, "Mask's On" is an ode to mask-wearers and lovers. The recess-worthy "Apple Tree" is both sexy and scary, like a vampire crush. On "Tonight You Belong to Me," Nobunny offers a raw acoustic version of the song famously sung by Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters in The Jerk. "The Gutter" is a mix of Elvis-rockabilly and country twang — a harrowing tale that ends in ... the gutter. Although it's a hodgepodge, Raw Romance makes a boisterous addition to any Nobunny fan's collection. (Michelle Broder Van Dyke)
With Battlehooch, Exray's, The Downer Party
Feb. 25, 9 p.m.; $12
Bottom of the Hill
1233 17th St., SF
From making "musical fiction" with Ray's Vast Basement to playing in the SF band Black Fiction, a project with Tim Cohen from The Fresh and Onlys, Jon Bernson is a force in the Bay Area music scene. He's contributed music to a dozen plays and at least four short films. And if you've seen the $200 million-grossing movie The Social Network, then music from his latest project Exray's has no doubt crept into your ears.
As Exray's, Bernson and Michael Falsetto-Mapp released a cassette, Ammunition Teeth, last year on San Francisco label Howells Trasmitter. The band is now set to release its self-titled full-length Feb. 1. It boasts an impressive guest list: Nate Query (the Decemberists), Warren Huegel (Citay, Jonas Reinhardt), and Cohen. Opening with "You Forget," the album flows forth with uptempo beats and a florid blend of guitars, synths, and samples. This release evokes various moods, akin to the settings that Ray's Vast Basement created for its "musical fiction," making it clear why those behind The Social Network soundtrack found the Exray's track "Hesitation" appropriate. Underneath the steady pulses and the pop melodies, there is an anxious undercurrent. "Stolen Postcard Sun" is a slowed-down number that hints at the mysterious. An album highlight comes at the end with "When I Was You," which paints a somber postromantic picture. This electronic-pop duo crafts songs that hint at the unknown while steadily pacing ahead. (Broder Van Dyke)
With Magick Trick, Fiveng, DJ Cyclist
Feb. 4, 9:00 p.m.; $12
Cafe Du Nord
2170 Market, SF (415) 861-5016