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Superchunk - Leaves in the Gutter (Cover Artwork)

Superchunk

Superchunk: Leaves in the GutterLeaves in the Gutter (2009)
Merge Records

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:


Contributed by: SloaneDaleySloaneDaley
(others by this writer | submit your own)

People often use relationships as an analogy for bands, and in a lot of contexts it makes smashing good sense. We can all relate to getting those little butterflies listening to a new release from a band we love similar to the feeling Marcie would get when Peppermint Patty walked into a room. If Sup.
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People often use relationships as an analogy for bands, and in a lot of contexts it makes smashing good sense. We can all relate to getting those little butterflies listening to a new release from a band we love similar to the feeling Marcie would get when Peppermint Patty walked into a room. If Superchunk were a relationship their breakup would have come after the couple celebrated their 13-year anniversary with the most delicious triple chocolate brownies, a Dylan Moran DVD, some edible body paints, a delightful day-sex romp, and then decide it'd be best to follow that up by spiriting themselves away to parts unknown never to speak to each other again. It doesn't make a whole lick of sense but that is what Superchunk did with Here's To Shutting Up seven years ago. The Leaves in the Gutter EP, sounds like what would happen if those estranged lovers met several years later in the produce aisle of the local supermarket and decided to relive the summer of their youth via coitus amongst the cream cheese and goats milk.

Superchunk do what they did extremely well: three-four-minute pop songs with strong hooks and duelling guitars, and from the intro on "Learned to Surf" you can tell the band knew not to mess with the winning formula. Instead, the band has retooled the direction they were going in their last few albums, eliminating extra embellishments found in synths and strings (not abandoning them completely) in favour of a bare-bones approach relying heavily on vocalist Mac McCaughan's signature high-pitched shout to carry the song. He accents the verses by extending the vowels in certain words to mimic the noodling guitar lines, a quirk that'll have you singing along in no time. It is all at once familiar and fresh, using old methods to produce something new and exciting, never reveling in nostalgia to fester into something ugly. This idea of escaping stagnation is echoed in the chorus of "Learned to Surf," where McCaughan proclaims: "When I learned to walk, you know humans roamed the earth, I can't hold my breath anymore, I stopped sinking and learned to surf."

Although, like much of their career, the sentiments on Leaves in the Gutter tend to be conveyed through an abstract naturalistic lens, it isn't to say the band is looking back with rose-tinted romanticism either. The band kicks up the noise as much as they did on No Pocky for Kitty and On the Mouth with their tambourine shaking and pleading on "Misfits and Mistakes," updating that sound with very subtle dark synthesizer flourishes. The refrain of "put all the random pieces together" winking at the borrowing of different, seemingly desperate points in their career continues in the rest of the album, especially on "Knock Knock Knock." The rad guitar solo and swift chord changes building into the chorus of "Knock Knock Knock" displays how dynamic and accomplished the band has become musically without sacrificing any of their muscle, exemplifying how, unlike some reunion efforts, Superchunk is rediscovering themselves as much as the listeners and the results are startlingly fantastic.

If you were an old fan that strayed with their last few releases, Leaves in the Gutter should rekindle that ol' fashioned feeling; if you always worshiped at the Church of 'Chunk your faith will be reaffirmed; if you've never heard the band before you'll be in a great mood all day because you'll be chunking your troubles away with Superchunk. Stop listening to boring music. Stop having a boring life.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
Superchunk - Majesty ShreddingDescendents - Milo Goes To CollegeFuture of the Left - Travels with Myself and AnotherBad Religion - The Process Of BeliefLess Than Jake - GNV FLANew Found Glory - Not Without a FightGreen Day - Kerplunk!The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 SoundDear Landlord - Dream HomesThe Replacements - Tim

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Marizo (July 14, 2009)

Their best album is probably On the Mouth for me.

KevinJamesSuperFan (July 12, 2009)

Foolish is one of my all time favorite albums

bytheslice (July 12, 2009)

"Foolish" is still my favorite by far. I do think it needs to be remastered and made a bit louder overall, because it's a killer record. Merge should really consider doing this at some point.

SloaneDaley (July 11, 2009)

One of the greatest bands ever. Turgid-as-hell review, though.

Dude I know expressing his Superfandom 10 years back, as seen on the band's tour diary:

'We meet an insanely drunk and animated fan who can only be described as "being on eleven" and I curse myself for not having a tape recorder. He goes on about Laura playing the "lazy bass" and sings our own songs back in our faces with gusto unmatched by anyone I've ever seen. He is last seen hanging off the door handle of our van as we pull away. Bless you my son.'


Turgid was the idea, sugar. And you know if I they were in font of me I'd be hanging onto love handles (not that they have any on their god-like figures) rather than door handles. kisses.

Misanthropee (July 11, 2009)

One of the greatest bands ever. Turgid-as-hell review, though.

Dude I know expressing his Superfandom 10 years back, as seen on the band's tour diary:

'We meet an insanely drunk and animated fan who can only be described as "being on eleven" and I curse myself for not having a tape recorder. He goes on about Laura playing the "lazy bass" and sings our own songs back in our faces with gusto unmatched by anyone I've ever seen. He is last seen hanging off the door handle of our van as we pull away. Bless you my son.'

TheUltraHumanite (July 10, 2009)

I'd start with "On The Mouth" or "Here's Where the Strings Come In". The song "The Popular Music" off of "Indoor Living" is one of the greatest moments in rock history.

I tried to submit news about this EP......twice......and it wasn't posted. So I didn't even bother posting news about their "Crossed Wires" "7 that came out a few days ago......it's great, and continues in the vein of this EP.

soundforlanguage (July 10, 2009)

One of my top 5 favorite bands of all time. Even though everyone though everyone I know say it's a North Carolina bias.

Maybe.

slackMFr (July 10, 2009)

To ChadReligion........We've all had a crush on Mrs. Ballance. Also, great Used ID.

KlashedKi (July 10, 2009)

If only all reviews were this good, even if the band name alone is enough to make me check them out this review pushes it over.

Except for the end of it, I'm not going to ask you to get a life by listening to the Groovie Ghoulies.

mchank (July 10, 2009)

Crazy, maybe, but this has turned into my favorite Superchunk record. I know, it's only an ep and it's not even on vinyl, but GOD. DAMN. it rules.

Chadreligion (July 10, 2009)

Always liked these guys... Good strong, power pop, with awesome guitars and great drum arrangements.
On The Mouth and Foolish were the best ones, although, Here's Where The Strings Come In has a special place in my heart.
I used to have a crush on the bass player.

supertomato (July 10, 2009)

All hail. Foolish is the best.

ffwoodycooks (July 10, 2009)

this EP is so good

p.s. Indoor Living is my favorite

slackMFr (July 10, 2009)

"On the Mouth" is my favorite of their albums, but "Incidental Music" & "Cup of Sand" are great collections & you can't go wrong w/ any of their releases.

slackMFr (July 10, 2009)

This is the greatest band ever. End of fucking story. This EP is so damn good & "Learned to Surf" & "Misfits & Mistakes" are 2 of the best songs they've ever recorded. The Chunk owns all the shit on this site.

Michael_Berryman (July 10, 2009)

Foolish is their best. or at least my favorite.

R3vengeTherapy (July 10, 2009)

I had no idea this was coming out. I'll check it out soon.

To the guy below, No Pocky For Kitty is usually the accepted starting place for people who have never heard them.

sweetsuperior (July 10, 2009)

Yes!

SloaneDaley (July 10, 2009)

not the produce aisle! the dairy aisle! damn you Sloane!

I'd say No Pocky For Kitty is their best.

HeresLookinAtYou (July 10, 2009)

Which album is their best?

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