Monday, April 25, 2011

One-Off Wonder: Coping with the Urban Coyote - Unida - 1999

Being an obsessive, completist music collector, my shelves have too many CDs by most artists.  I am not too far gone to admit that, very few bands excepted, not every record a group puts out is essential. The most fun records, then, are those that exist as the sole entry in a group's catalog.  There are a few notable biggies: Blind Faith and Sex Pistols come to mind (posthumous collections don't count) - but what about the others that, for whatever reason, don't make any other album?

Unida arose from the ashes of Kyuss, coming from the John Garcia side of the band, somewhere between Slo Burn (whose sole recording, Amusing the Amazing is another worthwhile one-off) and the more prolific Hermano. Garcia enlisted Arthur Seay on guitar, Mike Cancino on drums and Dave Dinsmore on bass for the Unida project. Dinsmore (who later went on to form Ché, another one-off band with Kyuss' Brant Bjork) was later replaced by Scott Reeder who in turn got replaced and, frankly, I don't know who is currently walking around claiming to be Unida's bassist.

Released on the short-lived, incredible Man's Ruin Records, Coping with the Urban Coyote followed a split EP with Dozer (no, that doesn't count toward the one record, either) and delivered a slab of sickeningly righteous rock. It's a brief, bright, brash record and hits all the right notes, straight out of the gate, with "Thorn:"
The trademark Kyuss sludge and bass aren't really prevalent in much of the Unida sound (nor should they be - they went along with Queens of the Stone Age). What you do got, however, is Garcia's über-emotive wail and groove after groove after groove. The tempo only slows down with a fuzzy bassline invading the proceedings on the epic last number, "You Wish," at which point, most of the audience is reaching for the lighter.
Only eight tracks long, Coping with the Urban Coyote has zero low points and stands as a stone-cold stoner rock classic. As with nearly everything on Man's Ruin, it's long gone from shops and brings high dollars secondhand online.  You're apt to pay as much for this CD as you would for all four Kyuss studio records combined. But it's worth it.

Unida have had a follow-up, The Great Divide, ready for release for a decade and it appears to have sunk into a quagmire of label handoffs and moving on, in general. Here's hoping the project gets revived sometime soon.  With a record as unbelievable as Coping with the Urban Coyote, nothing would make me happier than removing Unida from this list.

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