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Superchunk (Matador Records, 1990)

At this stage of their career, Superchunk are a wall of guitar noise and screamed college boy angst. This first album is very punk and quite raw. However, it is Punk in the sense of the original New York Punk Scene (Television, Patti Smith) as opposed to that Southern California Punk (Bad Religion, Social Distortion) that seems to dominate today. That is, the angst is not working class, but more intellectual.

Standout Tracks: Slack Motherfucker, My Noise, Sick To Move


Tossing Seeds (Matador, 1991)

A collection of early singles. As a compilation, it captures some great and not-so-great moments. Slack Motherfucker and My Noise are repeated from the Superchunk album. The few other noteworthy tracks have become live standards for the group.

Standout Tracks: Cool, Fishing, Train From Kansas City


No Pocky For Kitty (Matador, 1991)

Mr. Wilbur joins the band, completing the guitar-oriented dynamic that becomes their staple. Many consider this to be their finest album, and it contains many great tunes. It is a good album to listen to in the car: the songs are singable and fun.

Standour Tracks: Skip Steps 1 & 3, Punch Me Harder, Throwing Things


On The Mouth (Matador, 1992)

Mr. Wurster joins up, thus completing the band. Not their best work, but still full of good, energetic songs.

Standout Tracks: Precision Auto, I Guess I Remembered It Wrong


Foolish (Merge, 1994)

A long hiatus for the band during which their sound changed somewhat. This album has quite a few good rocking tunes, and some slower ones with mournful lyrics and beautfiul guitar interplay.

This was my introduction to the band. The production (Steve Albini) is perfect -- all of the elements flow together seamlessly. I rate this as their best release. It is a MUST HAVE.

Standout Tracks: Driveway to Driveway, Water Wings, Why Do You Have To Put A Date On Everything, Like A Fool


Incidental Music (Merge, 1995)

Another collection of singles and rarities. This is sort of hit or miss: some of these songs were best left as b-sides. However, there are some good moments, including a spirited cover of The Magnetic Fields tune 100,000 Fireflies, and an amazing acoustic version of Throwing Things off of No Pocky For Kitty.

Standout Tracks: 100,000 Fireflies, Throwing Things (acoustic)


Here's Where The Strings Come In (Merge, 1995)

Another masterful record full of great, energetic songs. I let a co-worker borrow this once and i think his response sums it up perfectly: "Every song was better than the one before it, and that first song was one of the best i have ever heard!" Indeed. This album flows together really well, and the production still favors the guitars over the voice. This album is probably their most rocking!

Standout Tracks: Detroit Has A Skyline, Hyper Enough, Yeah, It's Beautiful Here Too


The Laughter Guns ep (Merge, 1996)

This was a limited edition ep release that doesn't really contain any amazing tracks. However, after the four songs are done, the rest of the CD is taken up with "The Laughter Guns Incident" (not labelled on the CD), wherein some college students at UNC Chapel Hill attempt to deconstruct the album Here's Where The Strings Come In. In the 40 minutes or so that are on the CD, the deconstructionists never get past Hyper Enough. This segment contains some hilarious discussion of Superchunk's music, and contains one of the best lines ever: when they are attempting to figure out the time signature of the song, they play a snippet and the announcer states "Pogo in your head, everyone". This has high humor value, and is a must have for any serious fans.


Indoor Living (Merge, 1997)

The guitars might be a little less powerful on this album, and there are even some spots with keyboards(!), but the songwriting is still equisite. Now that you can hear Mac, you can see that he truly does have a way with words. This is a good introduction to people who may not be as excited about "Superchunk as a Punk Band".

Standout Tracks: Burn Last Sunday, Song For Marion Brown, Martinis On The Roof


Come Pick Me Up (Merge, 1999)

I personally consider this to be their weakest album. For some reason they chose to work with Jim O'Rourke, and i feel that he ruined this disc. Sure, there are some great songs, but the production really is not flattering. O'Rourke put Mac's voice way up front in the mix, and urged Mac to sing (almost in falsetto) rather than his typical howl. Also, with the production favoring the voice you don't hear the guitarplay as well, and that is a real tragedy. Another thing i hate about it -- O'Rourke put all sorts of keyboards and horns and whacky little sounds all over the place. It's too distracting. Others, specifically Mr. O'Rourke's fans, might enjoy this disc, but out of all of Superchunk's releases i listen to this one the least.

When i saw them on the first leg of the tour for this album, they were struggling to play the new songs live. Having seen them many times, i felt that this was a new phenomenon. Usually, their albums capture the live sound fairly well, but the production on Come Pick Me Up was so far out there, that they had trouble putting these songs on stage. After a few months, when they came back to Atlanta, they had the songs figured out. The struggle really annoyed me though...

Standout Tracks: Good Dreams, Honey Bee


Here's To Shutting Up (Merge, 2001)

There is a long full review of this album available here.

To sum up: This is a definite improvement over Come Pick Me Up. The production is clearer, and the band seem more confident in their new direction of more pop, less punk.

Standout Tracks: Late Century Dream, The Animal Has Left It's Shell, Art Class (song for Yayoi Kusama)




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