Rock Docs: X - The Unheard Music

Scott L. reviews The Unheard Music, a rock doc about X. 

X, the American punk band from Los Angeles, California is a band I will admit I have not given enough attention to over the many years since their inception in 1977.  Being a lover of the original wave of American punk rock, I am almost ashamed to admit that.  But it is the truth.  Maybe it was their name that threw me off back in the day, or the quirky vocal approach between Exene Cervenka and John Doe, but I regrettably was interested piles of other first wave American punk bands except this one.  This is the very reason that I was very excited when one of the folks here at The Movie Sleuth mansion threw me a copy of X: The Unheard Music asking me if I would like to review it.

X: The Unheard Music gives the viewer what they need from a rockumentary.  We get a good history on how the band formed and killer biographies on all of the members of X (John Doe, Billy Zoom, Exene Cervenka, and D. J. Bonebrake).  Additionally we learn about X’s place as a progenitor of the Los Angeles punk scene in the late 70’s.

The film is chock full of interviews most notably with the principal songwriter of the band, John Doe.  Watching him write songs and sing to himself (and with Exene) in his cramped apartment just made me smile.  I guess it is because I have done the same thing, but as you listen to the film's soundtrack (by guess who) I understand now why X was and still is such a revered band.  This music came from a cramped place with an urgency they only understood.  The songs are driving, passionate, powerful, and well written.  Most of all X mastered the art of consistency in their writing.  I could feel what I call my “new band to obsess about” syndrome kicking in as I enjoyed every second of X: The Unheard Music’s 84 minute run time.

After I finished view this film, I reflected on all of the great punk bands I have had the pleasure of discovering over all these years.  I literally shivered as my mental cache of a turntable was spinning, cross referencing all of the similarities of bands I have listened to that were formed years after X.  There is no doubt to me now, as a new fan of X, the massive impact this band has had on the piles of clones I have been listening to for decades.  As a man who prides himself on his roots and knowing where something truly comes from, this was a major oversight for me, but also a wonderful discovery I am still indulging in.


 -Scott W. Lambert