88.1 WKNC Pick of the Week 10/15, written by DJ Ones, WKNC deejay
It’s hard to believe that it has been nine years since Superchunks’s last full-length album. Aside from recording a track here and there, Majesty Shredding comes as the Chapel Hill band’s storming entry back into the forefront of the local music scene. Although the legacy of Superchunk will most likely spur talk about the history of Merge Records and the earlier punk scene of Chapel Hill, it is increasingly difficult to fail to acknowledge their arsenal of great music.
Almost a decade has gone by and Superchunk has not missed a beat. Starting from the first track, “Digging for Something,” the album channels that same heart and drive prominent throughout their career. Upbeat, anthemic, and full of great guitar riffs, Superchunk proves they are still hyper enough. The high-paced tracks keep coming. “My Gap Feels Weird” punctuates a more mature, higher-quality production that never loses sight of their distinct sound. Subtly layering the vocal styling of lead singer Mac McCaughan, the track progresses and builds toward a strong ending—the likes of which do not disappoint. However, the band does show they can perfect slow-paced pop tracks. “Rosemarie” offers a great transition out of the upbeat into the relaxed, and is still able to deliver the distinct Superchunk kick. Tracks like “Hot Tubes” and “Fractures in Plastic” are sprinkled throughout to give the listener a general break, and they are a necessary breather for an otherwise fast album. They also show how Superchunk has strengthened so many areas of their overall sound over the decades.
Nevertheless, prepare to strap yourself down for this album. Barely skipping a beat, Superchunk delivers epic guitar riffs that penetrate almost every song and are timed masterfully within the tracks. Where other bands may attempt to write songs that are similar in nature, very few are able to execute them on the same level as a band as experienced as Superchunk. Majesty Shredding ends on one of the highest notes any album for the year has. “Everything at Once” starts with the simple background vocals of the band and builds with the introduction of McCaughan’s high-registering vocals. The track builds a sense of anticipation released with a face-melting guitar solo. With every member firing on all levels, it is hard to deny that fans of Superchunk, or the power-punk sound that signified the band’s career, will be disappointed with their latest release. The wait has been well worth it as Superchunk has crafted another album that not only will reignite the interest of old fans, but will also fit nicely as one of their most complete albums to date.
On Friday evening, the paragons of the independent age of music, Superchunk, played a night for the fans at the stage they helped build at the Cat’s Cradle. The show was a warm-up for the summer music festival season and an east coast tour in the fall that will coincide with the release of their first full length album in nine years Majesty Shredding. Fears that the show would highlight a laid back set from Superchunk stemming from the inclusion of Ryan Gustafson on the bill were quickly alleviated by Gustafson’s inclusion of friends from the Drughorse Collective to add a full band sound to his twangy pop. Gustafson’s set was fantastic, the crowd was dancing and bobbing heads in approval as he performed his catchy songs with heartfelt conviction.
Superchunk took the stage at 10:00 p.m. brimming with intensity, vitality and volume. Mac McCaughan owned the stage with moves that would put most Guitar Hero avatars to shame, Laura Balance is still a master of control with the bass, Jon Wurster’s drums told the packed house when to dance and when to jump, and—self-deprecating humor aside—Jim Wilbur’s guitar knew the potpourri of songs spanning the bands 20+ career better than anyone in the room. What really set the show apart was that the majority of the set wasn’t forged to promote an album or conform to the bands comfort zones, but it was instead fueled and filled with requests taken by the band over email from the previous week. It was a thrill to hear “Slack Motherfucker,” “Precision Auto,” and “Water Wings” in the same evening, and fans responded with great fervor.
As the night wore on, the magnetic energy in the room became tangible. Superchunk was good enough to preview two songs from their new album Digging For Something and Everything at Once. John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats, who will be a guest on Majesty Shredding, came out to lend backup vocals to “Digging For Something” and was in the envious position of getting to dance around on stage with Superchunk. An easy highlight of the evening, the fast and furious “Everything at Once” may be giving fans’ favorite songs a run for their money. The only downside of the night was that it took the tech crew at the Cradle the first three songs of Superchunk’s set to blend the audio levels properly, but this may be a testament to the band’s rowdy enthusiasm. For an hour and a half they rocked hard, and we were all mesmerized.
2. For Tension
3. Skip Steps 1&3
4. Learned To Surf
5. Digging For Something (ft. John Darnielle)
8. I Guess I Remembered It Wrong
9. Florida’s On Fire
10. Water Wings
11. European Medicine
12. Package Thief
13. Everything At Once
14. Precision Auto
15. On The Mouth
16. From The Curve
17. Slack Motherfucker
18. Hyper Enough (ft. John Darnielle)
19. Throwing Things