Damaged Bug

Bunker Funk

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Judging by his work with the ever-prolific Thee Oh Sees and running the super-busy Castle Face label, it's hard to imagine John Dwyer has the time to brush his teeth, much less make records under the name Damaged Bug. He does, though, and 2016's Cold Hot Plumbs was a minor classic of the "proggy freakout with electronics" genre, filled with synth-breaking blowouts and heavily German jams. Great psych-pop melodies and creepy vocals, too. It wasn't in a different realm than a Thee Oh Sees record, but it replaced Dwyer's massive guitars with a wide range of vintage synths and other instruments. Arriving in 2017, Bunker Funk uses the same basic template but stretches it out a bit, adding more weirdness, excitement, and loose-limbed jamming while cutting back a tiny bit on the sticky spider-in-the-bubblegum melodies. Apart from some drumming by former Oh Sees member Ryan Moutinho, Dwyer plays everything himself and it sounds like he's having a blast twirling knobs so hard they seem liable to snap off on tracks like "Bog Dash" and "No One Notice the Fly," getting spooky and darkly psychedelic on ominous tracks like "Gimme Tamanthum" and "Mood Slime," being super-gnarly on weighty, monolithic slabs of sound like "Slay the Priest," or cutting back on the bluster for quiet moments of claustrophobic prettiness on "The Night Shopper." This album sees Dwyer relying more on guitars, and sometimes the boundaries between Damaged Bug and Thee Oh Sees gets a little blurred, especially on the guitar-heavy rocker "Unmanned Scanner." It really doesn't matter that much, though. Dwyer seems to have enough talent oozing out of him for at least two bands; it wouldn't be shocking if he had another couple in him. Until then, Damaged Bug isn't just a great side project; it's almost as good as Dwyer's main gig, and Bunker Funk is one tiny tweak better than Cold Hot Plumbs.

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