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Tossing Seeds (Singles 89-91)

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Album Review

Crafting some of the best noisy-yet-tuneful guitar rock of the late '80s and early '90s, Chapel Hill quartet Superchunk were one of the bands responsible for early definitions of indie rock, evolving at the same time but completely separate from the Nirvana-led, corporate-sponsored grunge explosion. Writing, recording, and releasing all its music independently was all part of the youthful fire that burned brightly in the band during its earliest days and slowly grew from grubby, rough-edged feedback-heavy pop into more intricate, nuanced, and storytelling feedback-heavy pop. Tossing Seeds gathers together singles and non-album tracks from Superchunk's blurry beginnings, culminating in 13 nonstop blasts of youthful energy. Single versions of "My Noise" and early-'90s low-rent anthem "Slack M**********r" reappear from the band's 1990 debut, joined by similar re-presentations of "Seed Toss" and "Cast Iron" from the 1991 Albini-produced follow-up No Pocky for Kitty. Even this early on, the band excelled within the limitations imposed by the 7" single, a format that offered a perfect amount of running time and focus for the band's bite-sized chunks of jangly adrenaline. Non-album tracks and covers are some of the more delightful standouts on Tossing Seeds, among them a pair of Sebadoh covers (including an especially eruptive reading of the usually maudlin "Brand New Love") as well as a take on English punk group the Flys' "Night Creatures" and a churning version of the Shangri-Las' girl group classic "Train from Kansas City." As far as original compositions, "Fishing" channels the buzzsaw angst that would be refined into less economical statements on future albums and "Garlic" toys with a more midtempo approach without getting even slightly mellower. Only three years into a lifespan that would prove to span decades and highly complex twists and turns, Tossing Seeds is Superchunk's youthful, headstrong, and often jubilant salad days, encapsulated.


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 owning their...
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