Known Unknowns - Demo

Tim Miller 05/03/2006

Rating: 3/5

Taking their current name from not so much a Donald Rumsfeld sound byte as a what-the-hell-are-you-on-a-byte, The Known Unknowns have actually been around for several years under different guises. This, their second demo, promises a new direction to their sound after a misfiring angsty rock start.
Written in the unusual 5/8 time signature, “You Lack the Spiritual Qualities Necessary for this Position” focuses on one chord, opening with a high, distorted 3 note riff. The accompaniment is sparse, just one guitar, an almost one note bassline and drums but although the vocal lines, like the riff, return again and again to the one chord, this doesn't necessarily equal a stale sound. Around halfway through, it's all change and the song switches suddenly to a chugging middle eight in a much simpler time signature, before returning to the riff to play out the song at a strangely short 2:40.

The second song “Who Needs The Pouring Rain?” smacks of Joy Division, the same downbeat, sparse backing and subdued vocal style. At only 2 minutes long, though, this is a bland, below standard affair. Joy Division influences again emerge at the beginning of “Solidarity”, the third track, though it soon evolves into a more straightforward rock song, with a double-tracked bass and lead riff. The only song here to do so, Solidarity builds into the last minute or so with more passion and emotion as vocalist Neil Walsh cries out in sympathy to all the causes he can possibly think of.

The Known Unknowns' demo is certainly worth repeated listens, and “You Lack…” is irritatingly simple but even more so catchy, and it is nice to see a band opting not to take the easy choice but carving out an individual style. As gloomy as Joy Division, but with a more popular appeal, honing down their solid demo into a musically tight and forlorn production could soon see TKU as something we all know we know.