The Bunny Gang - Thrive (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Bunny Gang

Thrive (2014)

Hardline Entertainment

Most people will probably come to this band through its association with Flogging Molly. FM bassist Nathen Maxwell is the singer and band leader of The Bunny Gang, but don't expect hard driving Irish folk—punk, this is an entirely different animal. The Bunny Gang play a very laid back style of reggae, combined with elements of melodic modern rock. It sounds more informed by Joe Strummer than Bob Marley.

Thrive is The Bunny Gang's second album, and opens with an easy going song called "The Reckoning." Maxwell has a nice voice and the lyrics are socially aware. You keep waiting for the song to really kick in, but it never does. Second song "Sirens Through the City" picks up the tempo a bit, and is probably the strongest track on the record. A mellow song, followed by a slightly less mellow song, is the general pattern for the album. "Illegal Markets" is the best of the slower ones, while "Uprising Underground" and "Pave the Way" are highlights of the more upbeat stuff. "We Are the Ones" is a strong track that features a (mellow) military style drum part and (mellow) gang vocals.

"Beach Coma" is a good example of where this record goes wrong. It sounds like something that should be playing quietly in the background while you lounge around an island paradise, sipping a rum drink. A few of these songs could be played at a low volume in a dentist office. "Waves" is an instrumental that does a good job of sounding like the ocean. "Running" sounds like The Wallflowers. (Does anybody remember them?) The album ends in traditional reggae fashion with the lengthy "Canoe Dub."

As good as Maxwell's voice is, he doesn't stretch himself much. He doesn't have to scream, but a little more edginess would help. I wonder if the band turns it up a notch in a live setting. Maxwell seems passionate about the material, but it is sometimes dull. The significance of the message can get buried by the easy listening delivery. The words speak of peaceful revolution, but the music does not match the lyrics' intensity. I don't want to make this sound worse than it is, the majority of the songs here are above average. The Bunny Gang just needs to make their inspiration more inspiring.