Review Revue: Unrest – Malcolm X Park


Mostly I’m very happy living in Seattle, but every once in a while I wish I were back on the East Coast. For instance, this summer Unrest, one of the many excellent mid-Atlantic-based bands I so adored in the 90s, is playing a series of shows to celebrate the 26th anniversary of their label, Teen Beat. (At one of these shows, July 10th at the Black Cat, they will be performing three different sets with three different lineups of the band, reflecting the diversity – dare I say “variety”? — of their back catalog.) I really wish I could catch at least one of these shows, but I do love living here in Seattle — and hate East Coast summers — so I guess I’ll be all right.

Like many people, 1992’s Perfect Teeth was the Unrest album I listened to above all. It’s got just the right mix of frenetic, super-tight pop sensibilities and droney experimentation. Malcolm X Park, released in 1988, is a very different animal, noisy and spastic and, frankly, somewhat unhinged. I’m sure the DJs at KCMU would never have been shocked that the same band that churned out the disturbing squall of “Lucifer Rising” would later be responsible for the pop gem “The Makeout Club.” It’s hard to tell what they thought of this record, though, as for the most part it seems the commentary here dissolved into some internal political bickering about “Variety” vs. “Rock.”

“Here’s an album full of variety. For Dave E that means there is a variety of tempos/sounds and musical styles to be found… all on one disc. Cool cover too!”

“The Gas Chair darkish pop. Like the Fall at times. Definitely a variety pick here.”

“‘Strutter’ is a Kiss cover if you care.”

“If this is what the Variety Fascists meant by ‘variety’ we’d be in good shape.”

“If the Rock Fascists like the aforementioned would clean their ears out once in a while & not scoff at variety, we’d be in better. Despite your protests, nobody (repeat: NOBODY) is forcing you to like everything that comes in to this station. Just to play it, & see if you like it. Is that too much to ask?”

“Hey guys & Gal, I love you all, I really do. But knock it off!”

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