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Some Small History

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Album Review

Mac McCaughan is nothing if not prolific. As if cranking out the indie rock for Superchunk wasn't enough, in 1994 he started Portastatic as an outlet for his solo recordings and songs that wouldn't fit within the Superchunk esthetic. The two bands ran neck and neck for years in terms of both frequency of release and high standard of quality until Superchunk was semi-retired in the early 2000s. Portastatic never slowed, though, and now some might be bold enough to say the side project has surpassed the day job band. Doubters should check some of the recent Portastatic releases or maybe this collection of single tracks, demos, versions, and cover songs for some independent verification. Some Small History is a career-spanning set that documents McCaughan's growth as a songwriter, his knack for knocking out a stunning cover version (his take on Hot Chip's "And I Was a Boy from School" is worth the price of admission, and the acoustic treatment of the Undertones' "Teenage Kicks" somehow makes one of the most joyous songs ever written into a melancholy ballad) and gives fans a chance to have all these rare and collectable songs in one handy package. The non-chronological track list may frustrate strict collector types, but the quality and rarity of the tracks here should take away any slight sting the sequencing may inspire. Full of emotional songs and the kind of inspired performances that made him an indie rock hero, Some Small History is a true treasure for fans of Mac McCaughan and Portastatic.


Formed: 1992 in United States

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Mac McCaughan became an indie rock hero while fronting Superchunk and by founding and managing the successful Merge Records -- Portastatic was the outlet for his solo recordings and songs that didn't quite fit his day job band. The side project began in 1992 when Tom Scharpling of 18 Wheeler Records asked McCaughan to release some of his lo-fi four-track recordings; he obliged with the singles "Sandals with White Socks" and "Starter." Then in 1994 McCaughan released an entire Portastatic album, I...
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Some Small History, Portastatic
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