Everyday (Mon-Fri), we deliver a Song of the Day podcast. We feature exclusive in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent musicians that KEXP thinks listeners should hear along with songs from more well-known artists. All this week, I spotlight the Song of the Day podcast on The Mid Day Show… Today’s Song of the Day podcast is ‘Corpse Pose’ from Repetition by Unwound. It’s available on Kill Rock Stars…
I don’t remember exactly when I first heard Unwound but, from the first song, I was completely hooked. I think it was sometime in the early 90s. Maybe ’93 or ’94. I do remember that they blew my mind with their sound, which was sort of a hybrid of Sonic Youth and Fugazi (both bands they have opened for or toured with). They had a fresh, youthful energy that was driving and pounding. I was immediately hooked and wanted to know more about this band and to definitely hear more from them.
This was in the days before the internet so you couldn’t just google a band or search for them on myspace. You actually had to do a little legwork to find out about a band that piqued your interest. What I found out was that they were barely out of their teens. In fact, they were still teenagers when they formed in Tumwater, WA, sometime around 1991. They were also the first band signed to Olympia label Kill Rock Stars, which started my love affair with that label. But that is a whole other story. And, by the time I discovered Unwound, a kick-ass drummer named Sara Lund had joined the band. Up until that point, I had not seen that many female drummers and certainly none that pounded the shit out of the skins like Sara did.
Another thing that caught my attention was the fact that they recorded with Steve Fisk who, at the time, I held in near god-like esteem. I remember once, 10 or 15 years ago, seeing Steve at a movie and whispering
to my friend excitedly “That’s Steve Fisk! That’s Steve Fisk!!” And, my friend was like “Steve who?” And, all I could do was look at him in disgust. I think Unwound self-produced their their last record, 2001’s Leaves Turn Inside You, with some help from the legendary Phil Ek. But, for the bulk of their career, if I am not mistaken, they worked primarily with Steve Fisk. I found this quote by Unwound guitarist Justin Trosper talking about working with Steve:
“The main thing I learned from Fisk is really how to listen to songs. Like, ‘That part needs louder more articulate vocals because the guitar isn’t really doing anything’ or ‘Don’t put that fucking maraca there, it sounds stupid,’ picking out the essentials of a song and focusing on them. Technically, he could jibber jabber at me for hours and I still don’t know what the fuck he was talking about. I learned more from his intuitive side but am still fascinated by his thesaurus-like brainology.”
Unwound pounded out nearly an album a year throughout the 90s. For this podcast song of the day I have chosen the song “Corpse Pose” from the album “Repetition”, which came out in 1996 – smack dab in the middle of their nearly decade-long run. I could have chosen any song at random, though, as Unwound’s
output was both amazing and consistent over the span of their career. Song after song, album after album of dense, crushing, abrasive, melodic indie-rock. One of the many things I love about KEXP is that we can and do keep bands like this in the mix. They deserve to be heard!!
Check out a few songs…
There’s also a pretty interesting video for ‘Scarlette’ from Leaves Turn Inside You.