The future as present.
Superchunk – I Hate Music (Merge)
As labels plundered the Seattle sound and all its distant cousins into alt-rock oblivion, Mac McCaughan sat out as a conscientious objector – relegating himself to an existence of mainstream anonymity. Two decades later and still content with his fate, he continues to lead his cult band cohorts from the driver’s seat of a tour van. An idealist who’s closer to 50 than 40, he’s craftier musically and remains optimistic about a tomorrow that rivals the vibrancy of his youth. Eternally young-at-heart quips like “Cram into the back of a van / All of our friends with no plan,” could have easily worked in a tribute to Kurt Cobain, only here they belong in a paean to reggae musician Jackie Mittoo. As for the destination of said van, they’re off to Barcelona where McCaughan and company enjoy their middle-age at a music festival among commoners they’re happy to call their brothers and sisters. A real man of the people, I tell ya. GRADE: A-
Key Tracks: “Me & You & Jackie Mittoo” / “Trees of Barcelona” / “Low F”
No Age – An Object (Sub Pop)
Having maxed out their little-band-that could stratagem on 2010’s Everything in Between – an album of devil-may-care swagger paired with a stunted storm of churning aggression – here Dean Spunt and Randy Randall revert from buzz and fuzz, to primal and skeletal. At ease with letting the distortion they so relied on to simply evaporate, they double down on their art-punk cred by upping the ennui and relishing in their new found joy of austerity. Still deliberate in tempo, however, they continue to hum along at their own unbending pace. After opening with five bluntly effective keepers which tumble about despite their melodic shortcomings, things sag slightly in the latter half as the music turns monochrome and hollow. Still bummed about them shying away from bombast? Put those volume knobs to good use. Turn that shit up. GRADE: A-