Superchunk Majesty Shredding(Merge Records) Buy it from Insound
Superchunk, the Chapel Hill, North Carolina-born indie pioneers, formed in 1989; I was a mere three years old. That means that most of the "indie" music, and by extension a lot of other rock genres, I was raised on and enjoy now was directly influenced by this very band. That’s a lot of pressure; thankfully, they don’t seem to care. For Majesty Shredding, their first album since 2001, they continue to do what they do best: make good alternative music without a care in the world. Except for all their neurosis and rotten luck.
Evern after 21 years as a band, the whole broken-hearted boy with lots of issues and a whole back catalog of heartache shtick still feels fresh. Honing the soundtrack of every white adolescent boy’s life, a driving punk rhythm, My Gap Feels Weird adds a layer of pseudo-existentialism to the baseline feeling of inadequacy Caucasian males seem to suffer from. That awkward rock vibe takes a particularly anthemic turn in Crossed Wires. Likening himself to a livewire, frontman Mac McCaughan channels a dirty rock beat while continuing to isolate himself from those around him thanks to his “crossed wires”. There’s no mistaking that a lot of the songs on the album are all about still being a social outcast and an emotional invalid, but there’s also no denying their catchiness and appeal. If anyone can realistically portray and tap into the minds of a 21-year-old, it’s got to be this band with members nearing their mid-40s.
After two-plus decades, most bands like this have to mature, almost by force. Of course, you also hope they still tow that tight line between over-complicating their sound (like with too many textured songs…); Learned to Surf is proof-positive of that balancing act. Akin to a straight shot of sonic espresso, the theme of the song is about getting over yourself, where McCaughan says that “I stopped swimming, learned to surf”, essentially getting over it all to the ever-so-sweet sounds of boyish, moody guitars. It’s also in this album that you can see they’ve truly accepted their role as legends. Everything At Once will instantly sound like the Surfer Bloods and The Drums of the modern musical landscape. Since Superchunk probably maybe came first, it’s both a nod to the new school and the group asserting their dominance of all things indie.
Knowing the age of a band and the time between their last album are all important items to note for context. But when it comes right down to it, they’re almost meaningless. Truly great music measures beyond generations and lengths of time and the way we measure those. With this latest effort, Superchunk have proven just that, and done so in their own insightful, rocking way and without compromise. All hail the kings (and queen).13 September, 2010 - 20:48 — Chris Coplan