Indie rock has problems.
One of these problems is that it's inherrently cute. The boys have messy hair, and that's cute. The girls stick out their tongues and that's cute. The songs have three-chord feedback and even that is just too fuckin' cute. So what happens is you get these cute boys and cute girls and cute chords and you throw 'em all in a blender and suddenly cute is a business philosophy. Sign 'em to a label you've never heard of and you've got a new flavor of the month for those anti-radio kids. Cute is suddenly cool and, hence, no longer all that cute.
The other problem is that, just like with the rest of the industry, all the bands sound the same. This isn't so much a problem except when everyone starts taking it all so damn seriously, like their art is interesting and unique because they ripped off the chords from decade old records.
So thank God for Superchunk.
Superchunk started in Chapel Hill, North Carolina in 1989 under the guise Chunk, but added the "Super" to avoid confusion with the New York City avant-jazz act. The original act was Mac McCaughan with characteristic trademark strained high-pitch vocals and a ferocious garage band guitar, Laura Ballance on bass, Chuck Garrison on drums, and Jack McCook picking up the second guitar. McCook left the group after the release of the eponymous first record, allegedly citing "road fatigue and his burgeoning career as a softball umpire" as reasons for taking off, and was replaced with James Wilbur. Garrison left right before the Albini recorded No Pocky For Kitty was released, and was replaced with Jon Wurster. The lineup has not changed since 1991 which, in itself, is a remarkable occurance.
So what makes The 'Chunk so damned good? They work hard, maintaining not only their homegrown label Merge Records and Mac's side project Portastatic, but an almost constant state of touring. They work hard, and it doesn't even seem like work to these kids, what with the sense of humor they carry throughout all this (the songs are published under "All The Songs Sound The Same Music"). They aren't still writing songs like Slack Motherfucker about Mac's lackluster workmates at Kinko's, but they still could and it could all work!
Okay, so this is the part where I say go run and buy all their albums. These are DIY heroes, kids, and you should respect 'em. All right, start with Foolish and work your way up, delve into the earlier efforts for some grind and garage, enter late in the game for some nice Jim O'Rourke productions. It's straightforward rock, take it for what it is and you'll be bouncing up and down like all those little indie darlings you envy so damn much. You might want to skip over the decidedly lackluster Indoor Living, unless you're some sort of completist, but if you like the rock action, most of the group's catalogue is faboo.
Then listen to all the songs. Really listen, and you'll realize that they aren't all that cute, at least, not like the rest of the indie world is. This, my friends, is why we really love Superchunk, why they stand above the other outfits. The songs will reveal themselves for you if only you let them. There are little moments of perfection on the horn hits of Pink Clouds, inbetween the noise and paranoia of Animated Airplanes Over Germany, floating above the jaded frustrations of Slack Motherfucker. Trust me, if you don't find them, they will find you.
It should be noted that the official stance on Superchunk lyrics is that fans should make up their own: they're probably just as good or better than the real ones. Therefore, anything you see here on E2 is just an interpretation, but one allowed by the band. /msg the author if you think you have a correction or a better ear.
(also, there is a Skippy peanut butter that tastes great on toast. no, the band didn't sell out: they plan to sue just as soon as they have the cash for legal expenses. anyway, said peanut butter makes a dreamy ice cream topping. nuke it for about 30-45 seconds and then pour atop your damn ice cream. heaven on a budget.)