Numero Group (2013)
I've had this Unwound box set for a little while now, but have been holding off on reviewing it. It's such a daunting task as there's so much here and so much to say about Unwound, but I don't always feel qualified to say it. Unwound was sort of a fringe band for me. I got into Unwound in my late teens and they were one of the bands I fell into while I was still finding my sea legs so to speak. Unwound along with other Pacific Northwest bands like Fitz of Depression, godheadSilo, Karp and Lync were the bands that a lot of my other friends never really got into. Most of them were somewhat fleeting; I never really listened to much Fitz, godheadSilo or Karp past 1995 or so. Lync stuck with me and I've been listening to them pretty much non-stop for the last 20 years. Unwound is more in the middle. While I never abandoned them completely, I really can't say I've listened to them much until recently digging through these Numero reissues.
This box set is the first of 4 planned sets to reissue pretty much every song, noise and recorded fart that Unwound put to tape over their career. Numero has done a pretty stellar job assembling this set. The sturdy cardboard record sleeves, the high quality vinyl, the fantastic photo filled booklet, the inner record sleeves with the original release 7" & LP artwork; it all just looks and sounds amazing. If I had one gripe, it would be that the records in their cardboard sleeves fit a little too snugly into the box. Sometimes it's a chore pulling the records out.
The 3 LPs cover a lot of ground. The first is primarily made up of some early demos, compilation appearances and the band's first 7" Caterpillar. This is a band that is noisy, abrasive and stumbling around in the dark trying to find their way. They hit on some great ideas, but they also get a little lost here and there. The 2nd LP has the songs recorded for what was to be the band's debut full length plus a couple of unreleased songs. Ultimately this album was shelved, but then reissued in 1995 as a self titled effort. The band was starting to get on track more by this point, but the songs were still kind of chaotic. A few real gems are on this disc though. The 3rd LP is where they cram in all of the extras. Radio sessions, unused songs, 7" b-sides. It's the odds and ends of the bunch. Not anywhere near as exciting as the first 2 LPs, but neat stuff to have regardless.
It's a really impressive set that is so artfully put together. Even if the band was still finding their way during this era, Numero has shown incredible clarity assembling this box set. One of the main reasons I wanted to get this review written finally is because the 2nd Numero box set is out now and I'm planning on getting to that one this week as well. That is the set that contains the Unwound songs that I first found.
Unwound - Caterpillar: