Generalising wildly for a moment, punk rock is a pretty moribund genre....

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Cocktail 2000

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Cocktail 2000

Generalising wildly for a moment, punk rock is a pretty moribund genre. Even in hotbeds of riot non-conformity like the American Northwest, the gap between the avant-garde and flaming punk impetus seems to get ever wider.

Be thankful, then, for a band like Olympia’s [a]Unwound[/a], six albums into their career and blessed with the patronage of [a]Graham Coxon[/a] but, until now, unreleased in the UK. ‘Challenge For A Civilized Society’ uses the clenched rigour of emo-hardcore as a springboard rather than, as is so often the case, a constricting ideology. So tense little hate-songs like ‘Laugh Track’ and ‘Mile Me Deaf’ expand into tricksy, emotional guitar flurries plainly inspired by Sonic Youth, but, crucially, never lose their basic vicious power.

So, in essence, [a]Unwound[/a] experiment with attitude and aggression, never more so than on the inevitably-titled ‘Untitled’. Eight minutes long, it begins as lurching hardcore, collapses into a sax-skronking, free jazz cacophony, calms down briefly, locks into a massive, hissing and spitting clang loop, flares into volcanic feedback, then seems to run the clang loop backwards. It’s the sound of a band trying to do everything at once, and pretty much succeeding. Which isn’t bad for punks, all told.