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Pennywise - Unknown Road (Cover Artwork)

Pennywise

Pennywise: Unknown RoadUnknown Road (1993)
Epitaph

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
User Rating:


Contributed by: RENALDO69RENALDO69
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Have Pennywise been a pioneer, flagship or talisman for the punk rock movement over the past couple decades? Has Jim Lindberg been the ideal frontman to boast a place among the greats who helped usher in punk to its rightful rung atop the music ladders of the world? Well, before we bicker for days o.
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Have Pennywise been a pioneer, flagship or talisman for the punk rock movement over the past couple decades? Has Jim Lindberg been the ideal frontman to boast a place among the greats who helped usher in punk to its rightful rung atop the music ladders of the world? Well, before we bicker for days on end on those issues, take a step back and breath in what Unknown Road accomplished in 1993. 20 years later, and this album still rings sweetly.

The opening title track ironically ventured into not-so-new territory, as you sensed they were prepared to chart the waters that made 1991's Pennywise so remarkable. But a sense that Lindberg's return to the band, after a pretty uncalled for hiatus, would result in them letting the chains go with no need to hold back. That was done in spades. This showed why Pennywise was a strong contender for the heavyweight championship alongside the likes of NOFX and Anti-Flag and such, because they had that unbridled penchant to deliver the most apt 'don't-give-a-fuck' tracks in the most catchy manner possible.

"Homesick" drove home just how sublime this record was and it's highly noteworthy how stellar Byron McMackin was on the drums. Fuck it, this was his record. His work on the kit was raw and fucking epic. Never caught a breath in between tracks. Lindberg's delivery was not that drastic an improvement on this sophomore effort, but then again, nothing much was needed in terms of him being better on the mic. He depicted not-so-subtle tones of resistance and that's what this album represented. A wake-up call. A call to arms. The cutting guitars and thumping riffs that Fletcher Dragge eked out was another reason behind Pennywise's powerful sound and also why their signatures came into effect around the punk/skate/mosh/thrash/Warped Tour era. They really proved to be a cultural symbol and Unknown Road catalyzed that.

Lindberg's introspective view on politics and society, as referenced in "City is Burning" was just as profound as the anthemic, catchy, fists-in-the-air "It's Up To Me." Dual vocals and fringe background skirmishes of Lindberg's contrasting vocals commanded a lot of respect for what Pennywise were trying to do. "Nothing" also acknowledged this–the fact that Lindberg and posse were willing to take chances and not play shit safe. "Try To Conform" then swung along and represented the revolt and mismatch in society that punk rockers felt a need to follow. Encompassed with the slickest and amped whoa ohs, yeah, there's no way this couldn't get you jacked. Same with that goose bump-inducing guitar solo. And that's what encompassed a lot about Pennywise back then; they sent chills and shivers down your spine.

If you wanted a record with strong messages. and if you were looking for icing on the cake in the form of a near-perfect punk record, look no further. Pretenders were warned to beware: Pennywise set a high standard and raised the bar greatly. "Give and Get" exemplified just why Pennywise made more than a statement when they released Unknown Road. It took their fundamental skills and amplified their potential to the point that you realized that even if the Billboard charts wouldn't recognize this record, somehow, there was something majestic, mystical and emotive about it that made it difficult to ignore. Would their subsequent records live up to said standard later on? Well, that's a discussion for another day, but this record has withstood the test of time remarkably.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Dedricthere (March 14, 2014)

Their best no doubt.

paulrulzdood (July 8, 2013)

for it's time, this was a great album, but I thought "about time" crushed it, and "full circle" was/is their peak and best album. after "full circle" they pretty much coasted along on auto-pilot, made their sound heavier here, slower there, but overall didn't mess with the recipe much and thus no release since has quite hit the heights of energy and passion as "full circle", but they've still got it IMO. seeing them live on Friday, should be interesting to see what they play. Their only mediocre album I found to be "from the ashes". otherwise everything they do is golden IMO, granted they stick to one formula, but if it ain't broke, dont' fix it. not every band needs to reinvent themselves constantly to stay relevant. People listen to PW because they want to hear PW, not them branching out into folk-punk territory or some crap.

greg0rb (July 6, 2013)

The one Pennywise album I didn't sell. It holds up pretty well.

moop (July 5, 2013)

still a classic.. I still enjoy those 1st 2 records from when i was 15 to 20 years later. saw them the summer of 94 (epitaph summer nationals) with Rancid opening and they blew Pennywise away.. and then I thought About Time was shite.. and that was that

elliot (July 5, 2013)

I like Full Circle best, but it's probably my bias since that was the first one I heard.

I'd say one of their most musically creative moments is the intro of "City Is Burning."

1776 (July 4, 2013)

Been downhill since this.

telegraphrocks (July 3, 2013)

Worst Pennywise album.
Said it.
Can't take it back.

EchosMyron has a baby dick.

EchosMyron (July 3, 2013)

Fuck this band.

uscbdaddy (July 3, 2013)

Well most people on here are at around a third grade reading level, so it seems like a suitable format.

danperrone (July 3, 2013)

"Have Pennywise been a pioneer, flagship or talisman for the punk rock movement over the past couple decades? Has Jim Lindberg been the ideal frontman to boast a place among the greats who helped usher in punk to its rightful rung atop the music ladders of the world?"

this is how i used to write essays in third grade, by asking a bunch of questions at the beginning...

9mind8 (July 3, 2013)

Totally agree with Jaytree about the 2 eras thing. I saw them in Sydney earlier this year and they only played 1 song post straight ahead (fuck authority- meh). I always like hearing the old stuff but was disappointed there wasn't a single song off unknown road. Wish they'd mix up their set list a bit more. I've heard society, same old story, perfect people, pennywise that many times would be cool to hear a song like 'nothing' or 'vices' live.

eazyd2 (July 2, 2013)

breath it in renaldo, you are charting new waters with that anti flag line

also i agree with everything jaytee said

uscbdaddy (July 2, 2013)

Even among the non-haters, I always felt like this was the Pennywise cd that was always overlooked. It's probably their fastest and catchiest of their 90s albums. Jim's voice was awesome and the production was almost perfect for the time period. Their self-titled was almost too raw, but this one had balls. I feel like this one and Straight Ahead are miles ahead of the rest of their discography, even though I've enjoyed almost everything they've done over the years.

TahoeJeff (July 2, 2013)

I still find myself coming back to this record when I am in a mood to listen to Pennywise. This and Nofx's White Trash Two Heebs and a Bean are the first albums that I heard in this genre.

madapril (July 2, 2013)

Easily their best record. Always dug the cover art too as it represents the music perfectly. Played this one and the first Strung Out record to death back in the day.

JayTee (July 2, 2013)

I always thought like this band had two eras. Wildcard - Full Circle and Straight Ahead and everything after. The "it all sounds the sameLOL!" jokes get thrown around on this website, and I can almost see where they're coming from in the second era when Jim started to have this weird lisp and monotone voice that makes him sound like the VooDoo Glowskulls guy or something while Fletcher chugs away at "safe" riffs, but I always felt their earlier stuff was much more eclectic than it gets credit for (at least on this website). Pennywise, Unknown Road, About Time and Full Circle had vastly different production values/sounds, Jim's voice was all over the place, the riffs and drums hit you from all directions and the lyrics, even as dark as they were on Full Circle, always kept you positive.

I dunno, I'm a fan of all their stuff, (Even had Unknown Road playing this morning!) but I always feel it's hard to explain to people who write them off as some "douchebag" band just what it was like to be a punk fan in the mid-90's before the internet-as-we-know-it and when this band was a contender. You either really liked them or didn't know who they were. Tacos.

hobbzoid (July 2, 2013)

this is hands-down their best record. Jim actually sings. it's so good. Diverse songwriting!

daveyjones (July 2, 2013)

this was the album that introduced me to pennywise when i bought it in 1993. still a classic, amazing record. before all the pennywise songs "sounded the same." it's diverse, interesting and arresting both lyrically and sonically.

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