Currently showing posts tagged superchunk

  • I'm Probably A Little Late To This, But It's Great: Superchunk + Protest Edition

    Some moons ago, I was a massive Superchunk fan.  Bought and wore out everything they did..but as with a lot of things from many moons ago, sometimes for no good reason, things fall by the wayside.   I saw Superchunk at the Eagle Rock Center for the Arts a few years back and it was amazing, but for some reason, I didn't get back into what they were doing.

    That may change right about now as about two months ago (which is why i'm probably a little late to this) Mac from Superchunk put out this track; a protest track called "Happy New Year (Prince Can't Die Again)."  It reminds me that a) I love music that has something to say b) I really miss Mac and Superchunk and should spend more time with them. 



  • The Top 40, Matching Shirts and Ear Fatigue: Five Random (Hopefully) Rainy Thoughts

    I'm feeling a little Larry King today, so here's a list of random thoughts, minus the 7 failed marriages and skeletal appearance. 

    1. Top 40 pop songs have become REALLY well written. Yes, I know you "real" music fans out there decry anything written for Miley or Katy, et al and you can say what you want about their marketing, but you can't deny that these tracks have some serious hooks that sink into you. Is it because it's gotten easier to loop a hook, or perhaps they know they need to step up their game to compete with the middle class (like movies did with cable dramas)? And no, I'm not a pop guy at all, but a good song is a good song.  Please note "real" music fans: I know every word to London Calling, Pleased To Meet Me and Signals, Calls & Marches.

    2. Bruno Mars is ridiculously talented and probably doesn't need to show how good a drummer he is, but he's a REALLY good drummer for a lead singer, or drummer. 

    3. More bands should wear matching attire live; except for the Village People. In 1995, I saw Rocket From The Crypt and immediately went out and bought a real bowling shirt.  I loved that shirt. Sadly, bowling shirts were never as cool as I thought they were, which probably explains why I was single for all of 1995.  I had The Hives play The Daily Habit (live show on FUEL TV I booked live acts for a few years back) and they showed up in the dressing room in matching jeans and flannel shirts.  I asked the manager if they had scaled back their attire from the white suits.  The answer was no, they always travel in matching outfits.  THAT'S committment. 

    4. In the mid-90s, lo-fi recording was all the rage with acts like Sebadoh, Superchunk, Guided By Voices, etc.  It made sense because they were recording these albums quickly and inexpensively and the lo-fi nature helped these records sounds more urgent, more throwback, or in the case of Sebadoh, more meloncholy.  It's 2014 and you can record mid to high level studio sound for 500 bucks and a Mac. Anyone doing anything willfully lo-fi just ends up making their stuff sound specifically distant and compressed, which is incredibly frustrating with today's already compressed digital sound.

    5. Speaking of compression, did you ever notice that when you turn off digital audio after an hour or so of listening you actually feel relief? Compressed audio actually fatigues your ears and makes them work harder to listen to music.  I wish I could find the article I read about this a few years back. If anyone has any more info, I'll post it. Anyway, maybe another reason why albums (if anyone listens) are so frontloaded.  By the time you get to the end, you're exhausted and wouldnt pay as much attention to the hits.

  • Hype, the State of Indie Rock and Chvrches

    Any denizen of the blogosphere can grab some band with one good song, trump them up on a blog and hope they succeed.  If not, bloggerati moves on, hoping they get lucky and right about the next one, abandoning the first one.  This does no one any good, except maybe the blogger.  And it builds up expectations that likely aren't met by the reader.  Occassionaly I'm going to point out bands that do live up to the hype, or have at least proven that they a) can write great songs or, b) can play live c) have something that will extend a career past 2 weeks on Hype Machine.  Call it anti-hype or hype redeemed.

    For those of you who've conversed with me about music or followed me on Twitter (@darylberg), you've probably heard me rant about how horrible "indie rock" is these days. That everything that is calling itself indie rock, or played on satellite indie rock stations has about as much rock in it as a Jimmy Buffet weekend cruise.   

    When I was in college and falling in love with the pretentiousless noise and simple but effective songcraft of bands like Superchunk, Built to Spill, Archers of Loaf, etc., the words were defined by a sound.  Now it all feels like solo bedroom recordings without any input other than a laptop and some Reason plug-ins; even worse, it sounds a lot more like Spandau Ballet or bad Prince than early Modest Mouse.

    So if I've come to accept the big tent that indie rock has become, I'm finding it hard to accept the tuneless warbles that accompany the shift in the genre; which is why I truly appreciate Chvrches.

    Yeah, they do sound a bit like OMD or some other 80s synth-pop, (though there are elements of Suicide in there) but they have three things that make them stand out above the fray, that all bands should strive for if they wanna live up to the hype.

    1.  They have songs.  It's not just about making your verse a chorus, adding some instrumental blather as verses, looping it 10 times and calling it a day.  They write great songs (which should always be point one on any converstion about pop music.


    2. They counter their pop with acid. The lyrics are as pointed and sharp as the music is tuneful.  This used to be the argument in favor of Steely Dan (a group I loathed as a punk rock kid, but kinda understand bit more as I've mellowed).  If you're gonna make people sing along, make them sing something that deepens and adds emotion to the music.  See also: Foster the People.

    3. They can perform live.  Though I wish they had a drummer, lead singer Lauren Mayberry is charming and completely commands the stage.  "I'm sorry if i look like a cross between a school marm and a librarian" was her apology for not being great live.  This self-deprecation was less accurate and more an example of the charm that went a long way to making her watchable.  It's not about jumping around a stage, all the time, sometimes its just about making people people stare at you. She's the kind of performer that makes boys with glasses nervous and stare, while nodding their heads along.