A Single History: 1991-1997
Kill Rock Stars
By: Eric Greenwood
Unwound’s growth since its demo is unparalleled in the punk rock community, which is a genre the band only loosely belongs to because it has so much more to offer. Too abrasive for the emo kids and too much singing for the hardcore crowd, Unwound has remained on the fringe of an exciting strain of noisy nu-punk that takes equal parts Sonic Youth and Rites Of Spring and combines it all in smart, emotional fragments, where the lyrics are just as important as the noise. The band brought drummer Sara Lund onboard after its initial run of singles for its debut LP, Fake Train, and evolved from a young, energetic punk band into the formidable trio that remains intact to this day.
This record collects the band’s compilation appearances as well as a few obscure 7” tracks and early demos. “Mile Me Deaf” opens the record with an infectious however angular guitar riff that unfolds into a plaintive chorus: “I have nothing to say/I just said it.” Sara Lund’s syncopated drumming pushes the song forward with acrobatic precision. “Broken E Strings” appeared on the first Jabberjaw compilation on Mammoth Records in 1995, and stands as one of Unwound’s most rocking songs. It is a perfect display of the band’s seamless approach to the quiet parts vs. noisy parts dynamic. Justin Trosper’s guitar squeals and squawks against a wall of noise while his throaty wail shrieks in time.
“Caterpillar” goes back to the band’s early days when it still sounded like a young Nirvana circa Bleach (“…can you fake a smile”). Unwound’s ongoing experiment with a structured, emotional chaos has taken many forms. The “Negated” 7” revealed a more abrasive aspect of the band’s sonic attack, incorporating trombone into the cacophony. Unwound has an impact unlike other bands who embrace the punk ethic- it simply sounds honest and affecting. It can create a dark turmoil in the form of a three-minute song that will shake you up. “Eternalux” is probably one of the angrier examples, but the vocals are desperate and shrill with sheets of distortion that transform into beautiful melodies in an instant.
This compilation is a bare bones display of a band that I hope never stops making records.