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The Haul: The Breeders' Pod, Unrest's "Cath Carroll"

Similar to both In Your Ear locations and their now-departed Cambridge sister store, Looney Tunes focuses on collector-oriented used vinyl, “collector-oriented” being a euphemism for “highly priced,” but don’t let that deter you. Unlike Rrrecords in Lowell or Mystery Train in Gloucester, you’re not going to find any hidden gems in the $5 range since virtually every record is at least $8, if not $10, but the turnover in stock at Looney Tunes makes it worth a regular visit. Are Berklee College of Music students selling off their prized 1990s indie/alternative LPs to stay afloat? Is their prime Boston real estate getting them better rock trade-ins than In Your Ear and Stereo Jack’s? Do they have a backroom filled with desirable LPs they slowly mete out to keep customers coming? Beats me, but it seems like every time I venture over the Mass. Ave bridge I end up getting sucked into buying a $15 to $25 record I won’t find anywhere else.

Past finds included Comsat Angels’ Waiting on a Miracle LP (I justified the $25 price tag by thinking of the cost of shipping for the import copies floating around eBay), the Afghan Whigs’ What Jail Is Like LP (with alternate tracks than the CD—they have another copy now if you’re interested), Cocteau Twins’ Treasure (a reasonable $10), the original pressing of Polvo’s Cor Crane Secret LP (a few months before the reissue came out at the same price), and Rocket from the Crypt’s Hot Charity LP. Not all of these purchases made my wallet sigh, but at best I paid what I thought they were worth, not more, not less. It’s just not as exciting to find something that’s accurately priced.

I usually can’t justify buying more than one or two LPs at a time from Looney Tunes (especially if I’ve coordinated my visit with a trip to the Newbury Comics location a few blocks away) so the albums I’ve left behind have been just as memorable. I made a mental note that I passed on another $89 worth of albums this time, including a few out-of-print indie rock records, a few original post-punk pressings, and a copy of Neil Young’s Zuma (which I see often enough to pass up). By the time this write-up is posted, I may have already gone back to grab a few of those records, but the competitive record shopper in me can’t divulge too many active finds. [Editor's note: I most certainly did pick up at least one of those other LPs.]

83. The Breeders– Pod LP – 4AD, 1990 – $20

The Breeders' Pod

I was all ready to discuss my surprise that Pod hadn’t earned a reissue pressing yet, even though Pixies LPs seem to be selling well, when I noticed that Plain Recordings was set to release a 180 gram reissue on June 23rd. This news removes some of my excitement about finding this album, but the $20 price tag isn’t too much more than the $18 most Plain reissues run. That’s what I get for checking Discogs and eBay on my iPhone, but not Google for a potential reissue. It’s still pretty awesome finding an album like this one that I never, ever see in stores, and getting the original pressing.

As for Pod itself, I never bought it on CD and I’d never listened to it all the way through, something that I’ve since rectified. Anyone hoping for the infectious alt-pop of “Cannonball” or “Divine Hammer” might be disappointed by the cold, eerie atmosphere of this record, but like Mark Prindle, I find Pod’s aesthetic and songwriting to be far superior to Last Splash. (I’m not even going to feign more than a skim of either Title T.K. or Mountain Battles.) It still blows my mind that Slint drummer Britt Walford joined the group for Pod and the Safari EP, since Slint was a completely unknown entity at the time, but a Steve Albini recommendation goes a long way. It’s even stranger that Walford used a pseudonym in the group (Shannon Doughton) and left before Last Splash because he was reticient about being associated with them, but that’s the difference between early 1990s indie rock and modern day indie rock.

84. Unrest – “Cath Carroll” + 2 7” – Teenbeat, 1993 – $6

Unrest's Cath Carroll single

Amazon’s list of the top 100 indie rock records of all time prompted a resurgence for Unrest, since Imperial F.F.R.R. ranked #5 on said list, above such notables as Pavement, Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo, and every other indie rock artist other than Guided by Voices, Neutral Milk Hotel, Slint, and Liz Phair. I could spend a few hours and a few thousand words dismantling Amazon’s list out of pure habit (Portugal the Man? Joan as Police Woman? The Black Angels?), but the simple reminder that this list is from Amazon, a company aiming to sell more indie rock records, not dramatically alter the indie rock canon, is enough to cull the urge. For now.

This uptick in Unrest discussion caused me to finally check out both Imperial F.F.R.R. and Perfect Teeth, records I’d long ignored because of Bridget Cross’s early tenure in Velocity Girl and my wariness that a sugar rush/crash would accompany a spin of Unrest’s indie pop/rock. That assumption wasn’t entirely off—songs like “Cath Carroll” and “Make Out Club” charge by with cotton-candy hooks and hyper-strummed chords—but Unrest is just as good, if not better, at slowly developing, but equally melodic songs like “Imperial” and “Breather X.O.X.O.” While I wouldn’t immediately place them at the top of the indie rock pecking order, I’ve enjoyed what I’ve heard enough to grab this out-of-print single, which features the aforementioned pep of “Cath Carroll,” an alternate take on “So Sick,” and a pleasant non-album track called “Capezio B.” Unrest’s discography is littered with enough singles and EPs that I won’t make this a habit, but Imperial F.F.R.R. and Perfect Teeth are now in my want list.