Thursday, August 25, 2005

Superchunk, II

Superchunk- Here’s To Shutting Up


I spent the last review talking about how much I appreciate the fact that Superchunk has been a band that’s never feared evolution or change- you’d think that I would have more positive things to say about this, the followup LP to “Come Pick Me Up”. I appreciate the fact that “Shutting” contains far more deviation from the 2gtr/bass/drums formula than any previous album, utilizing strings and synths and steel guitar. Right on, you know? It just feels like there’s too much reliance on production tricks and the aforementioned weird (for them) sounds, not enough on writing songs- too much midtempo for my tastes. Shit drags early on and I start looking at the internet, stop listening. Granted, out of the entire Superchunk catalogue I’ve spent the least time with this one, but honestly, there hasn’t been much to pull me back in.

Superchunk- Cup Of Sand

Hello, folks, and welcome back. I’m Don Bixtler, joined by former all-pro record reviewer Dick Johnson, and we’re here at the 2005 Record Review Invitational. Mike Fournier is on his fourth Superchunk review of the evening. Dick?

He’s an anecdotal reviewer who makes ties and attempts to give enough contextual clues to initiate novice readers without boring the veteran ones.

Fournier’s warming up- he’s playing solitare and drinking a glass of water, petting what appears to be a cat on his lap. Is that his normal pre-review routine, Dick?

I believe the cat is a girl.

Not the cat, Dick.

Well, Don, you talk about routine- this kid’s got some ‘em, but they’re strange. For one, he usually works a full day before he sits down at the desk. Before he starts the reviews, he spends at least half an hour looking at baseball scores and esoteric messageboards. I guess you could say he’s warming up.

He’s already listened to the CD once, from what we understand. He appears to be scanning the tracks, listening to snippets of many songs. How does this fit into his routine?

You talk about process- a lot of the time he’ll listen to the CD all the way through, then listen to spots over again. A lot of preparation time for each review.

Even the short ones?

Well, sometimes he’ll just listen to a record one time.

He’s staring off into space.

Very focused tonight, Don. Very focused.

He’s started writing! He has started the “Cup Of Sand” review!

Well, you talk about reviewing, Don, and you have to look at the curveballs, the ones that get thrown at you that you don’t have much of a bead on. The singles compilations are the hardest.

Why’s that?

Well, Don, the fact of the matter is that there are very few completely great ones out there. Most people forget that every single comes with a b-side, usually an unfinished or underdeveloped song that shouldn’t have ever seen the light of day to begin with. Fournier’s here trying to review a double CD of Superchunk singles and b-sides after already listening to three of the band’s full lengths. This is going to be a difficult review for him.

He’s progressed past the initial discussion of the record’s form. What do you think will be next?

Don, you talk about patterns, and this guy’s name comes up- he’ll probably mention listening to the record in a car, or with a girl, or with a bunch of-

He’s stopped the review, Dick.

He’s written that he’s already written about enough singles compilations so that the readers should know the drill by now. A bold move.

Is it a good move?

Well, Don, you talk about gambles- assuming that readers have already seen enough of his stuff to know that b-sides album reviews are a little on the short side. The old fans may appreciate the gesture, but I’m sure that his newer readers are going to feel left out in the cold.

There you have it. We’re going take a break to hear from our sponsors, Fagan’s- “When Nothing But The Best Will Do.” We’ll be right back. This is the 2005 Record Review Invitational.


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