Unwound — 06/30/1999: Rejkavik, Iceland (2014, Numero Group)
Nostalgia is wasted energy and regressive sentimentality —but boy how we love to trip nostalgia! Those were the days… Posthumously released, this excruciatingly brief live set in Iceland’s capital city from PNW powerhouse Unwound is a stroll down memory lane that our marginal minds can get behind. Unwound were part of a small sect of punk bands in the 90s who possessed clairvoyance — they saw what punk could be (Fugazi is also of this ilk, naturally). Successfully bridging the hardcore of their youths with angular riffs, unorthodox tunings, noise baths, and a healthy dose of loner introspection, Unwound, refused to be hemmed in to punk rock’s narrow confines. Following a brief introduction from the show’s promoter, the band begin with the austere instrumental dirge “Abstraktions” a Punk rock score for a nature program. Afterwards hey rip-tear into Fake Train’s opener, “Dragnalus” and in typical punk fashion, proceed to enthuse about punk rock’s favorite subject of choice: boredom. “Here Come the Dogs” probably waltzes out with cake. Fast, no nonsense. “Arboretum” demonstrates the group’s dynamic range and on the surface, compliments “Dogs” like chalk and cheese. Ah, but that’s the best part. The “punks” probably hated this ballad-y number with its extended instrumental passage. Appropriately, they finish with “For your Entertainment” an ode to all those disingenuous, capital “L” lovers of music out there. Unwound were pretty decent, as far as punk bands go. This recording catches them at their apex and is a perfect punk rock set through and through, half an hour, then get the hell of out dodge. Far and away, not as interesting as some of the other things we’re spinning at Marginal HQ, but sometimes a little rock guitar does a Friday good.