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Majesty Shredding

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Album Review

Superchunk never broke up officially after the release of 2001’s Here’s to Shutting Up album. They played the occasional live show, put out compilations and bootlegs, contributed to soundtracks, and released a couple singles and an EP, but no albums until 2010’s Majesty Shredding. Since they were never really gone, it’s hard to call the album a true comeback, but it is an impressive return to the spotlight as well as a heartwarming return to form. The album casts aside almost all of the experiments the band tried on the last couple albums and forgoes outside contributors, orchestration, and production tricks. Apart from the horns on “Digging for Something” and a viola on “Fractures in Plaster,” the record is just the four members of Superchunk bashing out trademark high-quality indie rock bolstered by loud drums, a thrilling twin-guitar attack, and Mac’s always impassioned vocals. It’s like they traveled back to a time before they started to tire of their sound and began looking for new ways to put the songs across — back to Here’s Where the Strings Come In, but with songs about kids, nostalgia, and growing old mixed in with the usual anxiety and heartache. They may have planned it or it may have been a happy accident; either way it was a great move to revisit their classic sound. Usually a band fails when trying this, because it feels like a ploy or a marketing decision, but in the case of Majesty Shredding it sounds completely organic thanks to the energy the band invests in the music. Plus, Mac delivered a batch of straightforward songs that lend themselves well to being thrashed out by the group. The moments of calm between the rockers are fine too, never sounding tired or rote, but always spilling over with emotion and real feeling. Just like they always have over the band’s 20-plus years. There are songs here that stand with the best the band has done (“Learned to Surf,” “Crossed Wires,” “Winter Games”), songs that will break your heart with their minute details on human frailty (“Fractures in Plaster”), songs that you’ll want to sing along to at top volume (“My Gap Feels Weird”), and songs that sound exactly how you want Superchunk to sound (“Slow Drip,” “Digging for Something”). They may not be the hippest band around in 2010 but they sound as fresh and important as they did in 1990, 1995, or 2001, and Majesty Shredding is the kind of album that’ll make you glad to be a fan of indie rock.


Formed: 1989 in Chapel Hill, NC

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Perhaps no band was more emblematic of the true spirit of American indie rock during the 1990s than Superchunk, the pride of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Following the D.I.Y. ethic to the letter, the bandmembers operated solely by their own rules, ignoring all passing trends by sticking to their trademark sound — typified by the buzzing guitars and high, impassioned vocals of frontman Mac McCaughan — and rejecting all major-label advances in favor of the unlimited freedom afforded by...
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