The Unknown

Pop Art

The Unknown - Pop Art ©2000 Boss Tuneage
1. Listen To Me
2. Leave Me Now
3. Disappear
4. Switch
5. Best Friends
6. Blink
7. Another Voice
8. Need To Know
9. Lies
10. Feelings
11. Lets Go
12. You Might Think
13. ??

The Unknown are an appropriately named pop-punk band originating from Cleveland that has been gigging around for apparently a decade or so. Their latest release for the year 2000 is the aptly titled Pop Art, which gives the listener a bit more than a half hour of their brand of catchy, energetic pop-punk. Fans of the lamented and lost Big Drill Car should take note of the Unknown as this Ohio band darned near rekindles the spirit and sound of BDC.

The Unknown aren't particularly innovative, but they avoid sounding like a Fat Wreck Chords or Epitaph band by aiming for straight forward and somewhat anthemic songs. Ken Blaze's vocals avoid the west coast snottiness and ring clear in a simple but catchy manner. Chris Roscoe lays down guitar tracks in the same way Mark Arnold did with Big Drill Car back in the day. The result is a record that is more rock than punk and definitely more pop oriented than anything. A lot of bands fail to provide anything deeper than bubblegum and flash, but the Unknown has that coveted ability to write songs that are worth hearing more than three or four times. "Switch", "Another Voice" and the cover of The Cars' "You Might Think" are some of the highlights of the record.

While I might be well beyond my pop-punk phase in life, I do recognize Pop Art as what is seemingly a rare example of the style done right and with more substance than attitude. Fans of the oft mentioned Big Drill Car, ALL's poppier moments, Chemical People and catchy pop-punk in general should search out this record. Pop Art is perfect music for putting in the car's CD player for a trip down the open highway.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 09/2000

Back to top 

The Real Thing

The Unknown - The Real Thing ©2002 Boss Tuneage
1. The Real Thing
2. Disappear
3. Cyclone
4. Seven
5. Group Think

The Unknown are, if nothing else, consistent. Each of their releases that I've heard features pretty much the same blend of punkish energy and attempts at the hookiest, catchiest rock they can come up with. Therein lies the problem. The Unknown doesn't have the ability of an All Systems Go! or Big Drill Car to consistently craft a memorable pop punk song. Granted, The Unknown does a better job than a lot of the horrendous acts currently touring whatever sneakers or snowboard touring circuit exists these days, but they've never quite excelled enough for me to get truly excited about.

However, I decided to let them off the hook on this five song EP, The Real Thing, which has absolutely nothing in common with any Faith No More album you might think of. The reason I'm going to be kind to this EP is because they actually penned a song to Seven of Nine from Star Trek Voyager. Considering this particular ST series never quite had the same audience as its predecessors and plenty of detractors, it's odd that anyone would choose this series for a song. But then again, if you recall Seven's "implants", you can understand the inspiration much more clearly. Voyager was my favorite Star Trek series and this tune amuses me to no end.

The Real Thing is far from original and far from great, but it does occur to me that if you're really into the whole pop-punk thing, you definitely can do a lot worse than The Unknown.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/2004

Back to top 

Radio Lied To Me

The Unknown - Radio Lied To Me ©2003 Boss Tuneage
1. Merry Go Round
2. Postcard
3. Radio Lied To Me
4. She's Sorry
5. Do You Know That Girl?
6. Picture This (About You)
7. Little Green Shirt
8. Teenage Dream
9. Two Weeks
10. Seven
11. Things In Life
12. Say Goodbye

As much as I enjoyed the simple pop punk of Pop Art, I've yet to find myself enjoying Radio Lied to Me nearly as much. For bands who play this ear friendly brand of music, it must be stated that he who lives by the catchy hook dies by the catchy hook. In the case of The Unknown, Radio Lied to Me is fairly devoid of the necessary catchy songs it takes to make an album like this work. The Unknown are not far off from the worlds of Big Drill Car or All Systems Go!, but the whole of Radio Lied to Me comes across as a dry series of attempted hooks and singalong choruses. As many bands who try playing simple, fast paced pop rock (and thus falling under the pop punk banner), it's not particularly easy to write a truly good pop number. As we all know, there are a vast amount of young bands trying this very same formula and without a CD chock full of well written, catchy songs, one will remain anonymous in the sea of hopefuls.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/2003

Back to top