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Superchunk: Majesty Shredding

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Artist: Superchunk

Title: Majesty Shredding
Release date: September 14
Label: Merge

I can't the say the new record by Superchunk is as great as their seminal first couple of records -- released two decades ago, if you can believe it -- but Majesty Shredding sure sounds good to these ears. Mostly because the North Carolina band sounds like it had a blast recording this 11-song record.

The band hadn't released a new record since 2001, but leader Mac McCaughan has remained busy in side projects and, of course, turning his record label, Merge, into what is now probably top indie label going right now.

McCaughan and the rest of Superchunk clearly were inspired by the success of the bands on Merge -- bands like Arcade Fire and Spoon -- and it shows. These guys tear through these pop-punk songs and, once again, restore some credibility to that now-execrable genre. The band performs with new-found exuberance and enough abandon to give you the sense that this record could've been released in 1991 when Superchunk was still a relatively new band.

Much of the credit goes to Jon Wurster's amped-up drumming. And McCaughan sounds a lot like he did 20 years ago, too -- a boyish singer with a great sense of melody who doesn't always hit the notes he's aiming for. Even after several listens, only a few songs' hooks stand out, which keeps Majesty Shredding from being essential in the Superchunk canon. But I couldn't help being drawn to the energy and life emanating from this record's songs. I'm surprised to hear myself say that I'm actually really glad Superchunk is back.

Superchunk // Digging For Something by Stayloose

Best song: "Crossed Wires"

Rotation: Heavy

Deja vu: The joy of seeing Superchunk at Bogart's in Cincinnati in 1992 is a very fond musical memory.

I'd rather listen to: Tossing Seeds (Singles '89-91), a singles compilation that should be in every rock fan's collection.

Grade: B+

"Nothing Not New" is a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 41-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment here.


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