Review Revue: Unrest – Malcolm X Park

Washington, DC’s Unrest was always a strange band. One minute they would be throwing layers of sloppy weirdness at you, and the next they’d be be slaying you with the perfect pop beauty of something like Perfect Teeth‘s “Makeout Club.” Perfect Teeth (along with much more music out of DC) was a very important part of my musical taste development in high school, but for whatever reason I never really delved beyond that. Their 1988 debut, Malcolm X Park, was decidedly stranger than Perfect Teeth, but certainly possessed of a great deal of sonic variety. That variety, unfortunately, ended up derailing the conversation here towards a series of rants about what I can only assume was the new-at-the-time move toward “variety mix” shows on KCMU. Perhaps this was appropriate due to the band’s name, but still, belated apologies to Unrest.

“Here is 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 it all 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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One Comment

  1. Robin
    Posted April 20, 2012 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    I saw Unrest play the second stage at Lollapalooza in 1993 in Noblesville, Indiana. They instantly became my favorite band. Mark Robinson’s wistful vocals over that jangly guitar went straight to my 16-year-old heart and I remained a devoted fan. Perfect Teeth, Unrest FFRR, and the Isabel Bishop EP were my coming-of-age soundtrack. Time passed, and I grew up, and my music taste evolved and expanded, but once in a while I will be talking music with a friend, and I will bring up Unrest. More often than not, people have never heard of them, but they almost always become fans. What’s great about this album is that it feels so spontaneous and experimental. It’s like they hit record *as* they were just becoming a band, and we get to witness them materialize before our eyes (well, ears really). It’s the musical equivalent of brazenly showing off your most awkward middle school photos. You get to the track “Laughter” and it’s like everything snaps into focus. It’s a rare thing to witness on an album, and I think it’s amazing.

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