What you first notice when you hear Mac McCaughan play Superchunk and other material of his solo is how it puts the band’s most vital characteristic front and center: lyrics. It’s not that you wouldn’t like to also hear the surge and kick of a backbeat to go with that plaintive voice that still sounds like a 22-year old; it’s just that, without as much racket, you finally get a chance to hear and feel what Mac (and by extension, his band) had to say. What you find are keenly-observed images — data piling up like magazines, alligator clips on glasses, dancing on a propane tank, somewhere deep in the country — that curdle a certain kind of nostalgia, for places you may or may not have been, people you probably don’t know. People say that Superchunk, as a band, has gotten older with grace, and a listen to Mac’s words, and his style, proves that out. He wears his older words well, even as they sidle up to the new.
Mac (not to mention his co-owned label Merge) was a huge part of the success of this Record Store Day show at Chaz’s Bull City Records in Durham, NC. Serving as the leadoff for the three Merge bands on the bill, Mac drew in an instant crowd, many of them no-doubt hungry to hear tunes from his brand-new Merge release, Non-Believers. Indeed, we got three songs’ worth here, plus a mix of old and new Superchunk. But one of my biggest favorites was the lone Portastatic number, “Drill Me”, from the newly-reissued 2003 LP, The Summer of the Shark, a song that takes aim at existential doubt with some of Mac’s best lyrics yet. Just before tearing into “Digging For Something” to close out his set, Mac exhorted us to all to support our local record stores every day of the year. Over his own career, Mac has given us plenty of excuses to do so.
I recorded this set with a soundboard feed from NC engineer John Koelle, plus Schoeps MK4V cardiod microphones at the stage lip. The sound quality is outstanding. Enjoy!
Stream the entire set:
Chaz’s Bull City Records
Durham, NC USA
Exclusive download hosted at nyctaper.com
Recorded and produced by acidjack
Soundboard (engineer: John Koelle) + Schoeps MK4V (stage lip)>KC5>CMC6>Edirol R-44 [OCM]>2x24bit/48kHz WAV>Adobe Audition CS 5.5 (align, mix down, fades)>Izotope Ozone 5 (effects, EQ)>Audacity 2.0.3 (track, amplify, balance, downsample, dither)>FLAC ( level 8 )
Tracks [Total Time 31:04]
01 Lost Again
02 Hello Hawk [Superchunk]
03 Overflows [Superchunk]
04 Only Do
05 Box Batteries
06 Home at Dawn [Superchunk]
07 Drill Me [Portastatic]
08 Detroit Has A Skyline [Superchunk]
09 Digging For Something
If you enjoyed this recording, PLEASE SUPPORT Mac McCaughan by visiting Merge Records and buying Non-Believers and his other releases there.