Great Mac McCaughan Moments – Slack MFer

Mac McCaughan is very prolific.  Co-founder / front-man / chief songwriter for Superchunk.  Main dude for Portastatic.  Co-founder / owner of awesome Merge records.  Defender of independent music labels and makers.  Visual artist.  And more.

All of these things have resulted in a constant stream of output over multiple decades.  Mac’s passion and talent can hardly be contained in his smallish frame, perhaps fueling the on-stage fits of rock-spasm that has always been a signature of Superchunk live shows.  This list highlights a number of moments that made me sit up, smile and think “Who is this guy?  Is there no end to his coolness?”.  This will be a multi-part series so please follow me on twitter or sign up for email reminders to stay on top of future posts.

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Superchunk Album History – Part 2 [1993-1996]

Welcome to part 2 of my walk down Superchunk memory lane.  Part 1 can be found here.  As stated with part 1, I would love to gather thoughts and memories in the comments section.

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Superchunk Album History – Part 1 [1990-1992]

September 14th is almost here, which means Majesty Shredding is almost here.  This week’s anticipatory tribute focuses on the albums of Superchunk (see my previous articles).  I will take you through this brief history with some of Superchunk’s thoughts on the albums as well as the part they played in my own personal history.  While it may seem self-serving to focus on myself I hope that it can provide more context to the albums by looking at how music plays such an important part in our lives and I hope this will spark your own musical memories, be they Superchunk or other.

I know this is not the original lineup from these years but I love all the hair

This is the first part of my series.  I will attempt to release each part for the rest of the week, so check back.  Also, leave  any of your own thoughts and memories in the comments.  I would love to pull them all together into document.

Best Music of 2010: Ted Leo and The Pharmacists

Amid the retirement controversy (c’mon “journalists”, settle down with the rag-mag headlines) I guess it is time for a look at The Brutalist Bricks by Ted Leo and the Pharmacists. (hey, is that enough links in one sentence to the same web site?  obviously I know I’m the only person on the Internet who knows how to find information!)

I like punk, but mostly the off-punk kind of punk.  What kind of punk is Ted Leo?

This may be TL/RX’s strongest album since Shake the Sheets.  The punk is strong with this one.  Right from the opening line of The Mighty Sparrow “When the cafe doors exploded I reacted to, I reacted to you” this album hits hard and fast through the intensity of the music and the intensity of the lyrics.

The punkiest of the punk can be found in songs The Stick (“Election time again, I wish that I was dead”), Mourning in America (“You summon ghosts we tried to bury in their white shrouds, With burning cross and bloody crescent in the White House”), Where Was My Brain (“Modern agriculture gave me a thrill, Until I saw the things it brutally killed”) and Everything Gets Interrupted which closes the album with a little wink.

As you can see, the political messages still reign strong in the TL/Rx lyrics.

TL/Rx are at their best, though, when they dial back a little on the punk and let some of their more modern rock influences shine through.  Highlights of The Brutalist Bricks include the aforementioned The Mighty SparrowBottle in Cork with its shifts in tempo (“Tell the bartender I think I’m falling in love”) and Even Heros Have to Die.

For me, the place where TL/Rx tends to fall down is with their punk rock epics.  Living with the Living suffered greatly from this with 4 songs clocking in at 6 minutes or more.  Nothing kills and interesting song or a great hook like dragging it out too long.  The world does not need a Punk Jam Band.  Thankfully this album does not suffer from jamitis, which makes it feel all the more solid and cohesive.

In the words of Tom Scharpling, I don’t like…..I love it!!!