The Tuna Helpers

Texas Platters

Phases & Stages

The Tuna Helpers

Starring in the Suspicious Fish (Monkey Boy) Following in the footsteps of Austin punk vanguard-bearers like Meatjoy and the Fuckemos, the Tuna Helpers celebrate social deviance in a manner that's both hilarious and bass-ackwardly intelligent. From a purely musical standpoint, perhaps "punk" is a bit of a misnomer for a quartet so reliant on lilting vocals and violins. But when vocalist/guitarist Adrienne Sneed uses that voice to sing about taping feces to her ex's door in "Restraining Order," punk is the only word that makes sense. The Tuna Helpers have crafted their own vague mythology revolving around tuna and other sea creatures (along with all the double-entendres that may apply), but their treatment of it is too sophisticated to come across as pure schtick. Which isn't to say it's not super-fun. "Tuna Stalker" finds Sneed commanding, "Bring her to me, chicken of my sea," while "Manatee" celebrates Florida's state animal with an off-kilter march driven by guitar, trombone, and bizarre children's record vocal cadence. "Bicycle" is a bucolic, Sunday-go-to-meeting waltz that barely conceals the underlying prurience, and "Caterpillar" exudes the discombobulated playfulness of Shimmy-Disc's heyday. If that weren't enough, the Helpers' slide in a credible variation of Stephen Foster's "Old Folks at Home," too. Unless the Frogs coax Christian children's songstress Little Marcy into collaborating, this one should stand on its own for a while.

***.5

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