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

1 comment:

Chris said...

I'm down to go to that show in NYC if you want. Superchunk w/Versus would be incredible.