The Unicorns were real...and they were an indie rock band

You've probably never heard The Unicorns, but the short-lived band had something to offer
Nicholas Thorburn at Village Voice Siren Music Festival 2008
Nicholas Thorburn at Village Voice Siren Music Festival 2008 / Astrid Stawiarz/GettyImages

The Unicorns are (or, technically, were) one of those bands you probably never heard of, yet may have a bit of a charm once you check them out. The Unicorns were a Canadian indie rock band formed in 2000 and disbanded in 2004. (Specifically, they originated in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.) The band consisted of Nicholas Thorburn (who also performed as Nick Diamonds), Alden Penner, and Jamie Thompson. They were known for their quirky and eclectic style, blending
elements of indie pop, folk, and experimental progressive rock.

The Unicorns released their debut albums, Unicorns Are People Too and Who Will Cut Our Hair When We're Gone? in 2003, which received critical acclaim and developed a cult following. The album, which recently had its 20-year anniversary, featured a mix of catchy melodies, offbeat lyrics, and a playful, lo-fi sound. Some popular tracks from the album include "I Don't Wanna Die" and "Jellybones." Despite their growing popularity, the band apparently faced internal tensions and creative differences, ultimately leading to their breakup in 2004. (They reuinted for a short second wave of shows in 2014, but that was it!)

After The Unicorns broke up

After the breakup, members pursued various musical projects. Nick Diamonds went on to form the band Islands, Alden Penner became involved in Clues and later pursued a solo career, and Jamie Thompson worked with various artists and focused on his solo project. Although their time as a band was relatively short-lived, The Unicorns left a lasting impact on the indie rock music scene and continue to be remembered and celebrated by their fans.

Final thoughts on The Unicorns

They don't sound like they were part of some new wave or scene, but did their own thing. With a band like The Unicorns, there is no need to match them up against an idealistic view of what was happening in the rock scene of that day. In a way, they are the type of band that defines "alternative" as basically musical entities doing their own thing, seemingly without catering to genre constraints in any rigid formulation. It's also guaranteed that some people out there will hate them, and potentially hate me for saying "Hey, maybe you'll like 'em." Maybe you won't see any real unicorns, but you can listen to The Unicorns, which may be good enough.

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