Bush Tetras

Very Very Happy

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The Bush Tetras were one of the better bands to emerge from the New York post-punk scene in the early '80s, though they struggled to win an audience outside their hometown for their brittle but funky tales of urban life. Despite never enjoying anything resembling a serious commercial breakthrough, the Bush Tetras have thankfully never given up the ghost, and Very Very Happy, a collection of new and old recordings, shows that they still have plenty to offer 27 years after releasing their first single. Very Very Happy features six news tracks recorded in 2007, and while most of the songs have been in their repertoire for years (one is a re-recording of their best-known song, "Too Many Creeps," and "Page 18" surfaced on their 1996 album Beauty Lies), the band is in potent form and most of the new recordings easily top the earlier versions of these songs. The concise bursts of noise from Pat Place's guitar are inspired, drummer Dee Pop lays out some edgy but powerfully muscular grooves, and Cynthia Sley's vocals have gained much in the way of depth and detail since her early days without losing their elemental force. Except for a moody cover of Iggy Pop's "Sister Midnight," the remaining studio tracks date from the '80s, and if they lack a bit of the confidence and skill of the 2007 sessions, they confirm this was a smart, adventurous, and exciting band both then and now, and the live tunes that close out the set show they can seriously deliver the goods on-stage (though it would have been nice if they'd included a fast, funky number rather than slower workout "Motorhead" and a harrowing cover of John Lennon's "Cold Turkey"). Approaching their third decade, the Bush Tetras may still be underappreciated, but Very Very Happy proves that's not stopping them from making great, challenging music. (The CD also includes three Quicktime videos accessible on personal computers, including a vintage low-budget video for "Too Many Creeps" that captures New York in all its grimy, pre-gentrification glory.)

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