Lost Classics: Mark Robinson

tapem200bThey’re nobody’s buzz bands anymore. But since 1993, MAGNET has discovered and documented more great music than memory will allow. The groups may have broken up or the albums may be out of print, but this time, history is written by the losers. Here are some of the finest albums that time forgot but we remembered in issue #75, plus all-new additions to our list of Lost Classics.

unrest350bThe straight-edge DIY warriors of Dischord tend to dominate most discussions about Washington, D.C.’s alt-rock community. But consider the pioneering spazz-pop legacy of Mark Robinson and Teenbeat, the label he founded in 1985 while an Arlington, Va., high-school student. Teenbeat was home to a variety of prominent indie groups such as Versus, Gastr Del Sol and Eggs, but its flagship act was Robinson’s band: Unrest (pictured). The trio developed quickly from scruffy homemade recordings that often teetered uneasily between punk, funk and spaghetti-Western pastiche to a highly influential form of minimalist guitar pop that came to define the pre-grunge era of college rock.

:: UNREST
Perfect Teeth // 4AD/Teenbeat, 1993

Unrest was one of the leading lights of the Amerindie scene throughout its all-too-brief career during the late ’80s and early ’90s. Perfect Teeth (its tongue-in-cheek liner notes jokingly listed Duran Duran’s Simon LeBon as producer) was as separate from Unrest’s early, bare-bones pop/punk as Fugazi was from Minor Threat. Simultaneously lush and spare, crafty and spontaneous, the album dropped gems such as “Make Out Club” and the melancholy “Soon It Is Going To Rain” like they were going out of style—which, once Robinson broke up Unrest later that year, was precisely the case. Catching Up: Robinson has remained connected to the underground since dissolving his band. He and Unrest bassist (and former Velocity Girl) Bridget Cross continued for a time as Air Miami before he went on to release a raft of albums under the names including Grenadine, Olympic Death Squad and Flin Flon. Drummer Phil Krauth has pursued a solo career, issuing a series of acoustic-based records on Teenbeat, the most recent of which was 2005’s Tight Fit. Cross is in Maybe It’s Reno, which released a self-titled LP on Teenbeat last year. Unrest reunited for a set at the label’s 20th anniversary shows in 2005. 

“Make Out Club”:

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