Various Artists

Magic Ribbons, Vol. 1

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Among the many things worth lamenting with the passage of the early-'90s indie rock explosion is the proliferation of 7" box sets -- for a while it seemed every indie label worth its Chuck Taylors was compiling sets of singles from bands across the underground landscape. Magic Ribbons -- the first in a proposed series of box sets issued by the largely forgotten Tacoma, WA, imprint Leopard Gecko -- defines its era better than most, thanks to the inclusion of a pair of now-legendary acts: Sebadoh and Unrest. Sebadoh's six songs capture the duo of Lou Barlow and Eric Gaffney in embryonic mode, crafting noisy, lo-fi but unsettlingly personal acoustic pop; Unrest's "Headringer" and "The Hill, Part 2" are cut from the same cloth as their classic Imperial f.f.r.r. album, with sharp melodies and antsy performances. Essential stuff for collectors of either band. Though lesser in stature, the other four acts on Magic Ribbons all had their moments as well: King Missile and the Happy Flowers certainly have their cult followings, Aaron Stauffer (here under the guise Spook & the Zombies) would release some good stuff fronting Seaweed, and the Mystery Tramps...well, they no doubt did something.