04 October 2011

LISTEN: Unwanted Christmas Presents - LP

As I mentioned Friday in a post about The Mad Daddys, Unwanted Christmas Presents were brought to my attention by my friend Eric who read about them on the Terminal-Boredom forum. UCP was an improvisational garage-noise punk band from Charleston in the mid- to late-80s. The duo was made up of Keith Dunleavy on vocals and Jon Nathan on guitar/percussion/electronics. Dunleavy, who along with Nathan also played in Death & Co., died in a car accident in 1990 at the age of 26. By that point he had already established himself as a sort of Jim Shephard of West Virginia. As an experimental rock cult figure in the region, Dunleavy was seemingly as controversial and confrontational as he was creative and brilliant. It is difficult to compare Unwanted Christmas Presents to any other bands. The music is abrasive and sleazy punk rock but with a poetic and bluesy backbone to it that brings to mind the MC5, Pere Ubu or Cheater Slicks. While UCP may not be easily approachable by those who don't listen to artists from the In the Red, Siltbreeze or Flying Nun rosters, there is a beauty to the songs. It is a tragedy that Keith Dunleavy died so young - the cause of which I do not know. Jon Nathan did an interview with Negative Guest List magazine (of Australia) in 2010 that my friend is trying to track down. Maybe that will shed some light on this somewhat mysterious Charleston band, who only hinted at their potential to exist among some truly great experimental noise acts from that era. So take a listen to these two tracks from the band's LP, which was recorded in the late '80s but not unearthed until 1993 by Electrocution Records. This is a truly fantastic piece of West Virginia punk rock history.

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