Friday, May 22, 2009

ALBUM REVIEW: SUPERCHUNK - "Leaves in the Gutter EP"

There are very few bands that take a long hiatus (5-10 or so years) then come back with recorded material that has the identical sound and energy of their previous work. Superchunk is one of these bands. After a long hiatus of any popular alternative band, the material is usually a bit slower, more produced, a band member or two may be missing and the lyrics become formulaic (Weezer I’m looking in your direction). While Metallica has to enlist Rick Rubin to get back that feeling of old-school speed metal with Death Magnetic, Superchunk just seemed to plug in their instruments. Their latest EP Leaves in the Gutter, has the intensity and melodic chemistry of any of their previous albums recorded in the 90s. Mac’s higher pitched vocals have honestly not dropped a decibel. It’s really kind of strange…like they have been teleported from 1995. The lead-off track Learned to Surf might as well have been off of 1995’s Here's Where The Strings Come In. Misfits and Mistakes on 1999’s No Pocky For Kitty and Knock Knock Knock could have been a additional tracks on 1993’s Foolish. Screw It Up has a newer sound which I cant quite match yet but its kickass. Some tracks like Learned to Surf and Misfits & Mistakes are fast paced and raw while others like Screw it Up have more harmonious aspects to them. I must say I have never enjoyed an acoustic version of a hard rock track more than Learned to Surf (which closes out the EP).

I was kind of a late bloomer with this band, not really getting into them until the late 90s. Once I heard Hyper Enough live I couldn’t get it out of my head and was on a mission to pick up whatever album it was on...turns out it was HWTSCI (my personal favorite album of the band). It was the early Promise Ring, Modest Mouse or Ben Folds Five effect in where once I heard one album I had to get them all YTD recordings immediately. Superchunk kind of dropped off the scene as a band after 2001’s Here’s To Shutting Up came out. They (two of the band members I believe) concentrated on running their own label MERGE (such a solid roster of artists) and subsequently I had thought the band would never record again. I’m pretty glad that they did. Please pick this EP up whether you’re a long time fan or newcomer. A new full length is still TBD but look for them on tour this summer (7/17 with Versus @ South Street Seaport NYC).

“I can’t hold my breath anymore, I stopped swimming and learned to surf”

DOWNLOAD THIS: Learned to Surf, Screw it Up, Hyper Enough, Driveway To Driveway, Iron On, Detroit Has a Skyline

Friday, May 15, 2009


I heard a Holy Fuck song in a Chrysler commercial the other night. Thanks government bailout. Good band name choice for your "we're rebuilding" ad campaign. The song was Lovely Allen…which…I must admit lends itself well to the re-branding of a failed auto company. Although, I hope no middle America soccer moms (hip to the internet) think to themselves (imagine Sarah Palin's voice) “Oh gee whiz, that is a mighty catchy tune…I’m going to search for the music group that performs it and download the song…oh…here it is…oh…oh dear.”

Many musicians have whored-out their talents to support advertisers since the beginning of time. Being a music freak and working professionally in the advertising field…my senses are heightened, Whether it’s personalities in the ads themselves - Chris Brown (boooo) endorsing Double-Mint Gum, Santogold,/Julian Casablanca’s endorsing Converse and MXPX endorsing Pepsi or songs used in place of a “jingle” such as The Postal Service endorsing UPS, Blur endorsing Levis/Nissan or Of Montreal plugging Outback Steakhouse (aka - oh my god if I hear that one more time I’m going to murder…a bloomin’ onion…dammit) . The most notable are typically car commercials as there really isn’t a lot to communicate expect the car driving in an unrealistic setting (outdoorsy or futuristic). There no need for detailed ad copy so attention grabbing music is key for sustainability.

I used to be a complete snob when hearing these songs, crying “sell-out!” I was visibly upset when I heard Modest Mouse in a mini-van commercial back before Johnny joined the band and more recently with Interpol in some cologne ad? Then I reached my 30s and realized that musicians do not make a ton of money (at least not consistently over the long term) unless you’re U2, Coldplay or Madonna. A little extra cash (depending on the campaign you can make a great deal of money….after you split it with the record company and ad firm). Most are done tastefully (Mates of State for Royal Caribbean) but with others you totally want to throw up and burn your records (Weezer cover for Sandals Resorts).

I think I finally let go when I saw the recent ad campaign for Cadillac staring Kate Walsh. She’s all sexy and soft spoken then slams down the pedal in her stilettos while the thundering riff of Hum’s 90s epic trak Stars thunders as the sports car speeds down the highway. There are two ways I could have taken this.

1. "WTF…now some yuppie car company is having that Grey's Anatomy spin-off chick pedal their product using our beloved alt-rock gods Hum? That’s bollocks."

2. "Holy shit…I forgot how f-ing kickass that song is and revolutionary that band was…time to throw all of my Hum albums into a playlist. Thanks advertising! (giving the double thumbs-up to the camera)"

(Answer Key)
#1 = 22 year old TommyC
#2 = 32 year old TommyC

Friday, May 8, 2009


Support the artists…go to their websites/iTunes/Rhapsody etc and purchase downloads. I’ll make weekly recommendations…I’ll try to do it daily. This “job” keeps getting in the way. Crickets.

OLD: “Start Choppin” from DINOSAUR JR (off Where You Been in honor of my last post)

SLIGHTLY WORN: “Cheap Champagne” from SLOAN (see my album review of Sloan’s Parallel Play in the “Top Ten ’08 Albums” post on 12/19/08)

NEW: “Learned to Surf” from SUPERCHUNK (off the Leaves in the Gutter EP – Full Cugerock review next week)

Thursday, May 7, 2009


New album out 6/23 entitled Farm. I first saw this on IFC Music Blast/Pitchfork Airwaves and was blown away. If you’re a longtime Dinosaur Jr fan (since highschool for me – Faust/Danny/Budz…you know the deal) you will “cream your jeans” when you watch this video for a new Farm track recording entitled I Don’t Wanna Go There. If you you do some exploring on the site you can see the band interviewed and check out another new track.

I was never crazy about the old-old albums with the Lou Barlow/Murph line-up (Bug, You’re Living All Over Me, Dinosaur) but the last album Beyond (2007) with them reunited proved me wrong (download – Crumble). One of my vivid memories from high school was me trying to wire up boom-box speakers to my Suzuki Samurai car stereo so I could blast D-Jr's Where You Been album and more importantly the lead-off track Out There…I also felt compelled to blast Mudhoneys Suck You Dry. Such powerful tracks…I guess I’m a child of 90s alt rock. Seeing frontman J.Mascis play live has always been an experience I can’t really describe to people. You have to be there to witness it…however this video gives you a pretty close idea of the pure sensory overload you would experience. Do not let the grey hair fool you. If you are close to the stage…tears well up…the solos are so fucking powerful and skilled you are left with a gaping mouth…regardless whether you’ve ever played yourself. If you have played the guitar in the past, which my cousin Danny has, try to get up front to see what pedals Jay is using to get that sound. Danny & I once saw J.Mascis solo at the Mercury Lounge in NYC…yeah…small venue + loud guitars = awesome. Danny pushed toward to the front to get a glimpse of the hardware. Not sure if any conclusions were made. Danny?

WARNING: If you do have a chance to go see Dinosaur Jr live…please wear ear-plugs. There was a legend about a Lollapalooza show back in the 90’s where a man who was in the audience sued the band claiming that Dinosaur Jr was so loud that they literally blew-out his eardrums. I laughed at that story for a long time…siding with the band and dismissing the story as a gold digging scam…then I saw them live. Holy…