Driving to the Jersey shore, school out for summer. Radio blasting (do you remember rock n roll radio?) “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” by The Smashing Pumpkins. Cruising the streets of Philadelphia with the sun beating down, looking for something to do – blasting “Summertime” by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince (yes, before the Prince changed his name to Will Smith). Or how about attending a local car show checking out the…um…cars while the radio blasted”Live Forever”by Oasis. (all things I did in my teens / early 20’s. (the places are specific to me, but this cycle repeats all over the world). The summer anthem typically brings up feelings of nostalgia, evoking memories of a carefree time not weighed down by the complexities of life. Try too hard to create the summer anthem and the song can get buried under the weight of the effort.
If I had to think of a band that would release the summer anthem (2 of them, actually) for 2012, Superchunk would have been the furthest thing from my mind. While I’ve always appreciated Superchunk’s dedication to punk influenced slacker rock (a generalization, sure) I wouldn’t have considered myself the hugest fan. My appreciation was deepened quite a bit with the 2010 album Majesty Shredding which simultaneously encapsulated everything they had previously done while propelling them forward (without sounding like middle-aged dad indie rock). When the new Superchunk single was announced in the spring of 2012, I have to admit – it was the first time that I counted down the days until I could listen to it. What we have here is an anthem for the aging hipsters of 2012 – a timeless single.
This Summer – evokes the early 90’s with its crunchy guitars and off kilter vocal style. 3:16 of perfection. When the song goes into the chorus it will bring a smile to your face. Evokes feelings of…summertime….BBQ’s, swimming pools, and great times with friends. Lyrics reference “tape full of hiss and a sleeping bag on the floor”. Mac McCaughan’s vocals on this track are simply perfect.
Cruel Summer – Superchunk covers the classic 80’s Bananarama song? Yes, please. A perfect cover, they really make it their own here. Features a harder edged take on the classic, mixing a lo-fi feel with perfectly executed vocals. When Mac sings those famous lines “It’s a cruel, cruel summer / Leaving me here on my own / It’s a cruel, cruel summer / Now you’re gone” it packs an unexpected emotional punch.
Verdict: A cool, cool summertime anthem
For fans of: Pavement, Dinosaur Jr., Bananarama, Sugar, Sebadoh
This is a highly recommended summertime single, available through Itunes or Merge Records.