Unwound

Rat Conspiracy

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Rat Conspiracy is the second in a series of box sets chronicling the development of Olympia, Washington indie punk legends Unwound. Following 2013's Kid Is Gone, which collected demos, radio sessions, and other various odds and ends from the early days with their first drummer, Rat Conspiracy picks up in 1993 with the introduction of second (and final) drummer Sara Lund. With Lund, the band truly found their sound, building on the fury of punk but stretching it out with introspective composition, bleak lyrics either muttered or screamed by vocalist/guitarist Justin Trosper, and squalls of feedback that somehow melded abrasiveness with melody. The collection takes its name from an alternate title for the band's 1993 debut album Fake Train, included here in full. Fake Train was a stellar set of tunes for any band to begin with, covering ground from tightly coiled, angular post-punk blasts like "Lucky Acid" and "Valentine's Card" to more expansive, textural meditations like the dreamy suite of "Kantina"/"Were, Are and Was or Is." 1994's New Plastic Ideas found the band in a more pensive mood, with Lund and bassist Vern Rumsey locking in on queasy churning rhythms, like the seasick post-hardcore of "Envelope" or sprawling out in a lethargic crawl on angsty, slower songs like "Arboretum." Also included in this collection is a volume of tracks of singles and compilations from the 1993-1994 era, capturing Unwound's brilliant early energy at some of its boldest work. The band was fresh into their sound on these early albums, a few years away from more exploratory phases, and in a state of intense, fearless blooming. The set is essential to any fan, and these records are near-perfect documents of the roots of indie rock and D.I.Y. culture that started growing in the unheard music and handmade expressions of the early '90s.

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