Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Space is the Place
I owe Tom Jones and my ex-girlfriend for my discovery of Unwound. I was on a Tom Jones kick, it being the mid-90's and kitch being king, and my then-girlfriend mentioned that he was on the cover of an Unwound album. A year after we broke up I came across a used copy of said album, Fake Train, and bought it, only slightly bitter that it was tangentially attached to my ex.
It instantly became, and remains to this day, one of my favorite albums. I think it easily ranks as one of the best indie/post punk/whatever albums of the 90s.
Unwound at that point were basically a hardcore band who had learned how to play theirr instruments a little and listened to a lot of sonic youth. Their early singles were more on the hardcore bent, and lacked the melodies and listenability of their later works. On fake train, they retained their hardcore element, but coupled it with large amounts of melody, and an overwhelming does of late twentieth-century ennui.
The album kicks off with the repetitive riff of "Dragnalus", over which they sing "You're so bored with tv, radio, audio, video". It perfectly encapsulates the blahness of suburban life, and the boredom of late adolescence.
It immediately jumps into the feedback-fueled "Lucky Acid Trip", which recalls their origins as a punk band. The whole album sees the band veering from the sad but beautiful longing of Kantina/Were, Are, Was, and Is and the chaos of "Valentine", "Ratbite" and "Gravity Kills". The whole quietloudquiet thing has been done to death since then, but it was still relatively new in the early 90's, Unwound still sounds much more convincing than anything on Victory's label, not to even mention all the top 40 suburban emo bands.
I got bored with punk because it was too simplistic and two-dimensional. Punk songs all used the same structure, same chords, and same angry rants about how society, like, fukin' sucked. Albums like "Fake Train" managed to harness the anger, passion and rawness of punk but make it a little more nuanced and interesting. God bless Tom Jones and my ex for introducing me to this Fake Train. It's the perfect album for the 20th/21st century blues.
Holy shit...after reading over this, i realize that it sounds almost exactly like one off Patrick Bateman's "American Psycho" pop culture rants. Jesus. I gotta go return some video tapes.
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