track-by-track breakdown of Unwed Sailor’s new LP by mems of Pedro the Lion, Minus the Bear, more
Unwed Sailor, the long-running Seattle post-rock project of Johnathon Ford (who also used to be in Pedro the Lion, and was part of the 2002 lineup that we recently posted an awesome live video of), released its new album Look Alive today (6/12) on Old Bear Records, and it finds Unwed Sailor sounding as great as ever. And if you don't believe us, believe some of Johnathon's past collaborators like David Bazan (Pedro The Lion), Erin Tate (Minus The Bear), Greg Jehanian (mewithoutYou), Shelby Cinca (Frodus), Emil Nikolaisen (Serena Maneesh), and others, all of whom put together a track-by-track breakdown of this new LP. Here's what they had to say:
"Glaring” by Mike Adams (Mike Adams at his Honest Weight)
As a fan for the last 20-some years, one of my favorite things to do with an Unwed Sailor song is to sink as far as I can into its hypnotic melody - whether it's sweet, or heavy - and relax while it takes me on its trip. "Glaring" is decidedly NOT that kind of Unwed Sailor song, and I love how much I love it. This song is manic. It's urgent. It's driving, it's gothic, and it's demanding. It's a lot like a wooden rollercoaster. It's reliably fun, but it is going to knock some sense into you.
“Look Alive” by Erin Tate (Minus the Bear / Ghost Work)
"Look Alive" is not only my favorite track off this album, but is my favorite Unwed Sailor song. The first time I heard this I was immediately caught in the hypnotic drum groove and didn’t want it to end.
Like some other Unwed songs, this put me into a mental place where I felt like I was in a movie. Its cinematic tone is powerful and takes me to a different head space while listening. I can almost see Audrey Horne (Twin Peaks) dancing in the bar to this.
Unlike other Unwed songs, "Look Alive" has this dark and twisted vibe. The pounding drums, repetitive groove and creepy ass muted guitar lines bring me to the “trash man“ in David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive. The musical equivalent of the fear people feel in Lynch’s movies and television.
“Look Alive” by Andrew Reizuch (Le Shok)
From the get-go, "Look Alive" kicks into an energetic shuffle of a drum beat, quickly meeting up with a pair of reverb-drenched guitars, similar to something like The Church getting all mixed up with the intro of Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life." The layers keep building with a synth-ish atmosphere, but the real depth shows up when it all breaks down into heavy, single note accents that loom over the song like a John Carpenter soundtrack. The rhythmic shake is persistent throughout and hand claps hint at an underlying soulful sentiment. "Look Alive" takes me on a journey, all the way to the end, when the momentum starts to drizzle – bringing up childhood memories of the fictional rain in Disneyland's Tiki Room – just as the song finally loses its pulse.
“Camino Reel” by Shelby Cinca (Frodus / The Cassettes / Cat Beats)
Slowed down first Rites Of Spring 7” meets hi-fi Sonic Youth at their finest. Distinct Johnathon bass but in a different context then before! Had me daydreaming and also jarred me for a moment of post-punk darkness before the dream resolve at the end. I got a bias since I named this band — should I write that I would have liked it a minute shorter? Maybe in Buddyhead fashion (my last stint at music writing) I say keep that comment. To keep with this I give it a KILLER Axl.
“Gone Jungle (GJ Mix)” by Emil Nikolaisen (Serena-Maneesh)
Like the light, lush summer breeze through the curtains of some self-imprisoned semi-goth juvenile, the sounds of “Gone J” is the windows to the world blown open… Being a fan of Johnathon’s bass playing since forever, I wanted to send a postcard from Oslo to honour this very Unwed tapestry of strings and drums, dipped into the sea of early '80s British gloom romance. Remember, you’ll never OD on that bass chorus..
“Retrograde” by Dave Bazan (Pedro the Lion)
listening to Unwed Sailor's Retrograde i hear
tall waves, lush, tumbling, crashing down hard.
you duck this wave, next one pummels you.
turns you over, spits you out.
balancing you catch your breath
ready for more waves
“Spring Theory” by Johnathon Ford (Unwed Sailor)
Spring Theory is a short sweet song, almost an interlude of sorts. It bridges a musical chasm. Gently moving you from the storms of "Retrograde" into the reflective calm of "Haze."
“Haze” by Greg Jehanian (mewithoutYou)
"Haze" is the sonic equivalent of a dreamy summer evening - that brief moment the sky fades from a yellowish-blue to a strikingly darker blue, and the clouds from a fiery orange to a shimmery silver. Its hypnotic repetition and eventual crescendo - anchored by a simple yet beautiful melody line - contain an urgency and a hope reminiscent of Wish-era Cure, while remaining uniquely Unwed Sailor.
Stream the full album below and order yours here.