“Everything is a commercial, we advertise our memories
We leave our shit on silver platters and then we buy whatever’s left
— “Off this Century,” Unwound
Reclaim Hosting has added another server this week. Building on our tradition of naming all of the machines after indy/punk bands, this one was dedicated to one of the very best post-post punk bands of the 1990s: Unwound. This trio hails from the Olympia music scene, and they were the first band signed to the Kill Rock Stars record label, which also released indie groups such as Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, The Melvins, and singer-songwriter Elliott Smith. In fact, Unwound may be amongst the lesser-known of those Kill Rock Stars acts, but over the course of the 90s they steadily produced brilliant albums, toured tirelessly, and forged a sound that is still getting broader recognition 15 years later. This fairly recent review in Pitchfork of the Numero Groups four-part reissue of Unwound’s decade-long oeuvre is a testament to that, and the following pull quote from the “No Energy” reissue on Numero Groups site provides a nice profile:
As a robust rock underground got swallowed alive by the Major Label Industrial Complex, the very autonomous Unwound—Olympia, Washington’s Great Noise Hope—toed the troublesome line between pay check and Check Engine light. Captured in the gaps of a ruthless touring schedule.
Underground, autonomous, and awesome! In many ways they defied strict categorization given how disparate their sounds could be from album to album, and that might be one of the reasons they got out of the 90s alive! The Numero Groups reissue was also mentioned earlier this month in this LA Times post as an essential. How’s that for history smiling kindly on this relatively obscure trio. What was craziest to me, as a fan, was that they were showing no signs of rust all they way up until the very end when they decided to call it quits in 2002. In fact, it could be easily argued that their final, double-album Leaves Turn Inside You (2001) was their most ambitious, and in many ways most impressive both conceptually and musically, to date.
But that was Unwound, consistently changing, exploring, and creating outside of the distracting grunge musical explosion of the moment. They never flew a flag, staked out an agenda, or preached about this or that; they just came out and rocked. What’s more, they remained fiercely independent throughout their entire career. They were with Kill Rock Stars until the end, and they played local gigs at record stores, all ages shows, and modestly toured the country delivering some of the best sounds of the decade for $5 or $6 a show for their entire career. A model for the indie edtech we continually aspire to at Reclaim.
The above video clip has them playing Hexenzsene at Off the Record in San Diego in 1997, interspersed with clips of Justin Trosper (guitarist) and Sara Lund (drummer) awkwardly explaining themselves. It’s awesome, they talk about the emptiness of punk as a term, the importance of staying young, and the fact their shows are cheap enough that no one should get too pissed if it sucks. Here’s to Unwound, I’m glad to be the first web hosting company to name a shared web hosting server in their honor. Some great reward for all their hard work!