Dave and Phil [L to R] in the West Broadway subway station near West Broadway's Noise New York
Phil Krauth, drums, bass, vocals, tambourine, claps, backing vocals, wood block, shimmy vision x
Tim Moran, right synth on "The Hill"
Dave Park, bass, guitar, paper, acoustic guitar, slide guitar
Mark Robinson, vocals, guitar, bass, piano, acoustic guitar, drums, backing vocals, tambourine, left synth, tabla, tamboura, claps
trumpet on "Stranger in My Own Hometown"
at Noise N.Y., New York, USA, July 1988
BACK COVER PHOTOGRAPHS
Mark Robinson, Teen-Beat Graphica
MALCOLM X PARK VIDEO
at Malcolm X Park (Meridian Hill Park),
and Food for Though restaurant,
Washington, D.C., USA
"How did he lose part of his finger? He took his sword and cut off his own finger. That really impressed the Japanese" -from "Dago Red" lyric printed on the back cover.
"Thank you: Terry Tolkin, Jack Sheehy, 13th Street Beat Generation, d.c. space, Kramer, Tim Moran, the real WMUC-FM, Lawrence + Bells Of..., Chris Thomson, Mr. + Mrs. Krauth, Bill Hanky, Bastro, Scott Larson, Calvin Johnson, No. 6 Records, West End Cafe, and all our friends........"
The cover art was one of the hundreds of one-of-a-kind covers created for Unrest's debut vinyl LP [Teen-Beat 14].
In a photo on the innersleeve, Mark's grandmother, Christine Ferrer, is holding Shimmy-Disc release 'Car Radio Jerome' by Rev. Fred Lane.
Noise N.Y. was located on West Broadway. Band photos were taken at the West Broadway subway station.
Percy Mayfield wrote and recorded 'Stranger in My Own Hometown'. It was made popular by Elvis Presley.
Kiss' Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons originally wrote and recorded 'Strutter' in 1973.
An image of (Mark Robinson's then roomate) Gina Pala's eyes in a rear-view mirror is on the bottom right-hand corner of the back cover.
Mark paternal grandfather, Edwin Allin Robinson, is pictured with a fireman's helmet on the innersleeve.
At one point in recent history, they were the archetypal indie rock band. Toeing the line between sloppy noise screes and sincere pop beauty, they peppered their songs with cryptic subculture references and served them up with huge ironic smirks. Sound familiar? Nope, I'm not talking about Pavement; before Slanted and Enchanted was even a gleam in Steve Malkmus' flinty eye, there was Unrest and their veritable cavalcade of self-released cassettes and 7"s that reeked of proto-slacker chic, punkish energy and collector geek enthusiasm.
Malcolm X Park is their second proper full-length, originally released on Caroline in 1988 and now seeing re-release through No. 6/Teenbeat. It's a far cry from the classic Unrest of 1992's Imperial f.f.r.r. and 1993's Perfect Teeth, but if you squint just right, their metamorphosis from jokey garage band to love-pop crooners makes intuitive sense.
By today's rather conservative musical standards, Malcolm X Park is way too amateurish and scattershot to be taken seriously, but it possesses a certain endearing anything-goes vibe that causes it to grow on you in ways that would make fungi jealous. More importantly, Unrest can actually pull off the dozen or so costume changes they make during Malcolm X Park's 17-track marathon, never allowing you to forget that behind all the noise, they're still just skinny white kids from the D.C. suburbs.
Unrest run themselves ragged through punk-flavored riffs, screams and snarls on the title track and "Castro 59;" they goof relentlessly on old-time rock 'n' roll on "Ben's Chili Bowl" and "Stranger in My Own Hometown;" they make it clear they dig Kiss the most direct way they know how-- by covering "Strutter" and quoting "I Wanna Rock and Roll All Night" at the end of "Disko Magic." After all this, they still have time to toss off pretty pop songs like "Can't Sit Still" and "Christina," as well as delicate instrumentals like "Dalmations" and the album's closer, "The Hill."
Unrest's greatest and most frustrating asset is their lyrical obscurity; they drop enough hints throughout their music that you get the feeling they must be referring to something specific, but it's impossible to figure it out for sure unless you're seriously in the know. I got the Kenneth Anger reference in "Lucifer Rising," but still have no clue as to what the fuck Mark Robinson is talking about during "Castro 59" or "Dago Red."
But this band's motives have always been somewhat unclear; the most sensible explanation is that they simply wanted to catalog their own personal obsessions without explicit explanation. Listening to Malcolm X Park now, a staggering 12 years after its original release, the mystery has diminished a bit. In the end, Malcolm X Park has its advantages and disadvantages; not being in on the joke won't necessarily detract from the enjoyment of hearing a young, inspired Mark Robinson at his strangest.
- Nick Mirov, Pitchfork