Unwound were like Nirvana minus the pop, Sonic Youth minus the art gallery, and Fugazi minus the slogans. The nineties rock idiom as a howling existential abyss – Adam Grimord-Isham
As one of the heaviest bands in indie rock, Tumwater/ Olympia, WA trio Unwound were a practicioners of what All Music Guide called “indie-grindcore” – the band took roughness of Fugazi and some of the more rocking moments of Sonic Youth and multiplied it by 10. The resulting concoction was nothing short of an aural sledghehammer, pounding stereo speakers everywhere into dust. Eventually, they also developed considerable melodic sensibilities, but still remained true to their own vision of rock’n’roll.
Originally known as Giant Henry, the band initially included guitarist/vocalist Justin Trosper, bassist Vern Rumsey and drummer Brandt Sandeno (who was replaced by Sara Lund in 1992).
They started out by releasing untitled 8-song demo in 1991, with two of the tracks from demo ending up on 1999 compilation “A Single History: 1991-1997”. After releasing few singles on labels such as Gravity and Kill Rock Stars, Unwound produced their debut LP “Fake Train” in 1993.
One part of the album that stands out immediately is its cover, which shows a mutilated cover of another album – that of 1970 “Tom” LP by Tom Jones. The album was recorded with producer Steve Fisk at the helm in just two weeks and, according to Trouser Press, the album “boasts a formidable dynamic range” containing anything from meditative instrumental “Were, Are And Was Or Is” to noisier tracks like “Nervous Energy”.
1994 “New Plastic Ideas”, saw the band “branching out into propulsive odd meters, a vastly bigger sound and even more traumatic contrasts between loud and soft, pulling the arty riffage into much tighter focus.”, according to TP. The record was also a bit more melodic, but also featured plenty of dissonance / distortion.
1995 saw the re-release of the band’s debut recorded in 1992, as well as a new album called “The Future Of What”. The rest of the decade saw them releasing two more albums – 1996 “Repetition” (“a sharp kick in the head that clears out the cobwebs and stimulates the imagination”, according to TP). and 1998 “Challenge For A Civilized Society” (a combination of “carefully wielded aggression” and “barbed wire pop songs”, according to TP). They called it quits after 2001 “Leaves Turn Inside You”.
Outside of Unwound, other projects that the band members were involved in include Replikants (not to confuse with Replicants, the banf that included members of Medicine, Tool and Failure) and Long Hind Legs, who released records on Kill Rock Stars and Punk In My Vitamins, label run by Vern Rumsey.
Caterpillar 7″ (Kill Rock Stars, 1991)
Unwound 7″ (Gravity, 1992)
Fake Train CD / LP (Kill Rock Stars, 1993)
Kandy Korn Rituals + 2 7″ (Kill Rock Stars, 1993)
MK Ultra / Totality 7″ (Kill Rock Stars, 1994)
Negated / Said Serial 7″ (Troubleman Unlimited, 1994)
New Plastic Ideas CD / LP (Kill Rock Stars, 1994)
The Future Of What CD / LP (Kill Rock Stars, 1995)
Unwound CD / LP (Honey Bear, 1995)
Corpse Pose / Everything Is Weird 7″ (Kill Rock Stars, 1996)
Repetition CD (Kill Rock Stars, 1996)
Unwound / Steel Pole Bath Tub Split 7″ (Honey Bear, 1996)
The Light At The End Of A Tunnel Is A Train 12″ (Kill Rock Stars, 1997)
Challenge For A Civilized Society CD / LP (Kill Rock Stars, 1998)
A Single History: 1991-1997 CD / LP (Kill Rock Stars, 1999)
Further Listening CD (Matador, 1999)
Live In London 12″ (LoveLetter, 1999)
Unwound / Versus Split 7″ (Troubleman Unlimited, 2000)
Leaves Turn Inside You CD / 2xCD / LP (Kill Rock Stars, 2001 / Matador, 2001)
“You Speak Jealousy” on Kill Rock Stars (Kill Rock Stars, 1991)
“Bionic” on International Pop Underground Convention (K, 1992)
“Stumbling Block” on Throw – The Yoyo Studio Compilation (Yoyo, 1992)
“Eternalux” on A Day In The Park…A Compilation Of Now Sounds (The Now Sound, 1994)
“Broken E-Strings” on Jabberjaw Compilation – Good To The Last Drop (Mammoth, 1994)
“Plight” on Our Band Could Be Your Life – A Tribute To The D Boon And The Minutemen (Little Brother, 1994)
“New Radio Hit” on The Smitten Love Song (Karate Brand, 1994)
“Dragnalus” on Half-Cocked Soundtrack (Matador, 1995)
“Valentine Card” on Yoyo A Go Go (YoYo, 1996)
“Data” on Musique Sans Frontieres (Matador, 1998)
“Laugh Track” on Rock Sound Vol. 26 (Rock Sound Magazine, 1998)
“Laugh Track” on Opscene CD #6 (Papieren Tiger, 1999)
“NO TECH!” on Everything Is Nice – The Matador Records 10th Anniversary (Matador, 1999)
“Demons Sing Love Songs” on Draw Me A Riot (Matador, 2001)
“Arboretum (Live)” on Songs For Cassavetes Soundtrack (Better Looking, 2001)
“Lazslo” on Troubleman Mix-Tape (Troubleman Unlimited, 2001)
“Behold The Salt” on All Tomorrow’s Parties 1.1 (ATP, 2002)