Unsane album cover



Listening to Unsane’s 1990 debut album, it’s hard to believe the three members met at Sarah Lawrence College. Their music has the headlong barrage energy of hardcore punk, with drummer Charlie Ondras’s tumbling, pounding rhythms bolstered by Pete Shore’s bass, which rumbles like the subway, but the razor-wire blues riffs from guitarist/vocalist Chris Spencer’s cranked-up Telecaster — and his distorted shrieks— are what set the band apart. Unsane put the rock in noise-rock; there’s no jaded alienation in their music. Of the 12 songs here, only three pass the three-minute mark. On one of those, the nearly six-minute “Exterminator,” they explore a Mudhoney-esque psychedelia, but they’re always more at home with short, pummeling post-punk (not postpunk) eruptions. (Yes, the album cover is a real photo of a real dead person; they got it from a friend who was working with the NYPD.)

Phil Freeman

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