Gram Rabbit

Cultivation

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It's hard to imagine yourself under the spell of a group that calls itself "The Royal Order of Rabbits," sure. But Cultivation is the name of Gram Rabbit's game here, and the four-piece from Joshua Tree, CA does a bang-up job of scoring new converts. For those who missed Music to Start a Cult To, Rabbit's wacked-out 2004 debut, a primer: jumbling up electronica, country, rock, disco, and folk, and throwing in the odd bunny reference, the band burrowed itself deep into the minds of avant-gardists and desert-based devil worshipers alike -- when they said "music to start a cult to," they meant it. Here, though, frontwoman Jesika von Rabbit and company tone down the satanic stuff in favor of a more straightforward, bunny-flecked weirdness. "Jesus & I" sounds like Madonna on LSD; "Waiting in the Kountry" splices prog rock through a slinky meditation on "watching the goats grow"; "Angel Song," one of the few selections not sung by von Rabbit, revisits '60s mysticism with a straight face; "Crossing Guards with Guns" synths up a neo-Columbine nightmare; and "Follow Your Heart"'s piano plinks along sadly to a single directionless verse. A batch of cottontails less cute and more willfully eccentric isn't apt to come along anytime soon, but watch and see if the Brotherhood of the Hare's ranks don't swell considerably with this release. Better make room in the rabbit hole.

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