Unrest Kustom Karnal Blackxploitation

Anyone who jumped on the Unrest bandwagon late might have hard time swallowing descriptions of the trio as a pop/punk ensemble. The shimmering pop perfection of Unrest's final chapter, Perfect Teeth, can be labelled many things, but hardcore it's not. These "first time on CD" reissues of Unrest's early albums, 1988's Malcolm X Park and 1990's Kustom Karnal Blackxploitation, show the Mark Robinson-led band in all its scrappy punk glory. Featuring Robinson, Phil Krauth and Dave Park, who would be replaced by Bridget Cross, Unrest focused its efforts on edgy songs that often favoured noise and gimmicky tangents more than the harmony and wit that propelled its later efforts. The title track of Malcolm X Park is a riveting hardcore outing that flows into the roots-inspired ballad "Can't Sit Still." From there it's on to a remarkably faithful cover of Kiss' "Strutter" then another cheeky original, the piss-take ballad of "Dago Red." The album teems with restless youth and enthusiasm, which still provide a giddy thrill ride for its listener some 12-years later. Kustom Karnal Blackxploitation comes together as a more polished yet more irreverent - and less successful - affair. Highlights include the raw power of "Coming Hot and Proud," which is a pure gimme indie rock thrill, and the Heathers-inspired cover of "Teenage Suicide," which shows hints of the formula the band is in the process of spinning into pure pop gold. (TeenBeat)