Thursday, August 25th, 2005
With Superchunk on the back burner indefinitely, Mac McCaughan has turned former side project Portastatic into his primary creative outlet. It’s no coincidence that each successive Portastatic album released after the last Superchunk record (2001’s Here’s To Shutting Up) sounds more and more like a ringer for Superchunk. Whereas the older albums were a catch-all for McCaughan’s musical experiments outside the Superchunk mould, 2001’s excellent Summer Of The Shark and its companion mini-album Autumn Was A Lark were fully realized rock records that could stand shoulder to shoulder with anything his day job released in the past decade. It’s a trend that continues with his/their latest record, Bright Ideas, which came out this past Tuesday.
Notable for being the first Portastatic record recorded as a full band (with Superchunk guitarist Jim Wilbur on bass and Mac’s brother Matt on drums), the album opens with the quiet and textured title track, which sounds more like earlier-era Portastatic but from there on it’s solid power pop that could pass for the ‘Chunk if they’d turned the gain knobs on their distortion pedals down a touch – more jangle than fuzz. For reasons unbeknownst to me, it took a few listens to get into this record but now I’m enjoying it quite a bit. It’s a shame this record is coming out so late in August – it would have been a great soundtrack for the Summer.
Bright Ideas also comes with companion pieces – an EP previewing material from the album called Looking For A Power Supply was released earlier this Summer on a Spanish label, but copies are available domestically for you completists out there. Also, early pressings of Bright Ideas came with a disc of demos called Ideas For Bright Ideas – I found my copy of the album used over a month ago, so it had no bonus disc. It did have a big fancy hole punched through the UPC code, though. That’s just as good as demos!
Mac and co are embarking on a fairly extensive Fall tour that includes a stop at Lee’s Palace on September 12th with Tenement Halls. I’ve never seen Superchunk live (and may never get the chance to) but did see Portastatic open for Yo La Tengo a few years back. Good show, recommended. And RelishNow has an interview with Mac (via Largehearted Boy).
Initially reported by Adam Radwanski and now confirmed by Billions – the October 9th New Pornographers/ Destroyer show has moved from the desolate Docks to the much friendlier Phoenix. I dashed out and bought the album and a ticket after work yesterday – after all, the capacity of the show just got cut by 2000 heads. I think a sell-out is a much safer bet now.
Also at the Phoenix – Spoon return to Toronto with Mary Timony in tow on November 1. American Music Club join the tour four days later. Alas, I guess it was not to be for us, though I notice New York get Mary Timony AND American Music Club. Because, you know, New York doesn’t get enough good shows. Not at all.
Okkervil River’s Will Sheff took guest-blogging duties yesterday at Said The Gramophone, taking the opportunity to offer a first-year course in Tim Hardin, who was the inspiration for Okkervil’s latest album Black Sheep Boy. Coincidentally, I picked up Down The River Of Golden Dreams yesterday – it’s lovely.
Colin Meloy of The Decemberists confides to Billboard that they won’t be playing a lot of new material on their upcoming Fall tour (including a show October 13 at the Phoenix in Toronto) because they, like, want the next album to be a surprise. The faithful shouldn’t expect the follow-up to Picaresque until late next Summer, but they can look forward to the band’s first DVD due out sometime… you know, later.
AmAnSet has another website courtesy of their new lable,Arts & Crafts. There’s also a listening party for their new album Set Free at The Drake tonight, if you can’t wait till it comes out September 20.
NOW puts pop culture pundit Chuck Klosterman on this weeks cover (and fawns all over him in the accompanying article) in advance of his Killing Yourself To Live book reading at the Horseshoe next Wednesday. It’s free!
The Torontoist week in shows.
np – The New Pornographers / Twin Cinema