Hunx and His Punx, Too Young To Be in Love

Hunx and His Punx, Too Young To Be in Love

It’s funny what a little gender-flipping can do. I remember being bowled over when I first listened to Damone’s classic debut From the Attic, and then hitting the floor a second time when I learned that the songs were originally written by the band’s guitarist, Dave Pino, and not by eventual singer Noelle; it lent the songs I already knew somewhat of an extra layer of meaning beneath the obvious girl-with-a-crush delivery. The mental gender-shift makes the fact that the band pulls it off even more impressive.

That’s somewhat how it feels when I listen to Hunx and His Punx’s second full-length, Too Young To Be in Love, although in this case, I know up-front that things are going to be a little sideways, based pretty much on frontman Hunx’s (better known as Seth Bogart) past exploits in oversexed electro outfit Gravy Train!!!! The group takes the ’60s girl-group aesthetic and gives it a twist somewhat, with Bogart taking what would’ve been the female lead in days gone by and crooning songs about boyfriends coming back in town and how his mama told him to stay away from Johnny.

Obviously, it can get a bit gimmicky at points, and I’ll freely admit that I’m somewhat thrown by Bogart’s nasal, bratty vocals — at their most grating, they come uncomfortably close to a parody of what a gay man’s “supposed” to sound like — but even with all that, I’m still suckered in. It’s plain to see that Hunx and His Punx out-and-out adore that Ronettes/Phil Spector sound, and they play it for all their worth, to the point where that love makes it all magically work.

And work it does, particularly on the downcast thump of “Lovers Lane,” “He’s Coming Back,” which is pretty much a rewrite of “My Boyfriend’s Back” but with a bit more of a threat of actual violence lurking beneath the melody, the bitter warning of “The Curse of Being Young,” and the pleading “Bay Boy.”

The high point of it all, at least for me, is backing vocalist (and the co-writer of some of the songs on the album, apparently) Shannon Shaw, of Shannon & The Clams — I freaking love her voice, with its rough, just-about-to-crack, Adele-like rasp and downcast vibe. I’m liking Too Young To Be in Love, to be sure, but I think I’ll be aiming to hear more from Shaw later on down the line, rather than Bogart.

[Hunx and His Punx is playing 4/13/11 at Fitzgerald’s, along with Robert Ellis & The Boys, Shannon & The Clams, & Vivian Pikkles & The Sweethearts Über Alles.]
(Hardly Art -- P.O. Box 2007, Seattle, WA. 98111; http://www.hardlyart.com/; Hunx & His Punx -- http://www.myspace.com/hunxsolo)
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Review by . Review posted Wednesday, April 13th, 2011. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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