SLUG Issue 43 — July 1992.

Record Review: July 1992



Matador Records

The first time I heard Superchunk was on a FIREHOSE album a friend passed my way, their latest, Live Totem Pole E.P. Amongst this fine collection of songs was a number called “Slack Motherfucker,” I couldn’t recall placing it amongst the FIREHOSE collection, so I figured it to be from the Minutemen days, seeing as how it was perfectly “Hosey.”

Sometime later, I purchased my first CD in months by this band called Superchunk. I’d been reading good propaganda about the band and decided to make the investment one day after spying this incredibly ugly album cover hiding in the racks with said moniker gracing the top.

Lo and behold, the album struck a chord within me immediately with its aggressive onslaught of primitive chortling, which you could say I really get into. Midway through the album was “Slack Motherfucker.” Up to that point I felt Superchunk sounded a bit like a souped-up FIREHOSE, but this song set my mind straight. Okay, they’re doing a cover song, just like all emerging bands do on their debut album. As I probed further, however, the whole theory fell apart. “Slack Motherfucker” is a Superchunk original and it’s on this, their third album, and FIREHOSE was covering it.

I guess this doesn’t mean a damn thing, but I thought it rather intriguing. So why would the mighty Hose be covering this song? Well, because it kicks ass and carries an attitude. Someday the whole album will be cover material for cool bands because it’s great shit.

Apparently Superchunk are at the fore of a new scene breaking from North Carolina, originating from the band’s own Merge label. Now that they’re on the New York-based Matador label, they are starting to creep across the nation and kick people in the ass.

Said influences aside, Superchunk are creating their own good sound. I’d call it “pseudo-melodic grunge” because it can drive at that steady throbbing pace we all know and love, but often breaks away into neat little licks and musical muses. Heavy on the guitar and fronted by vocals that are just on the verge of being off key and sloppy, Superchunk never takes a dive.

The combination can be extremely uplifting, but sobering all the same because of the angst within the lyrics. Yes, I’d love to hear this package live, singing songs like “Sick to Move” and “Seed Toss.”

After a few spins, I had to have more of this three guy, one gal stimulant. I took a trip to Seattle to find their previous albums, “Tossing Seeds” and “No Pocky for Kitty,” and it was well worth it. Both serve as an excellent introduction into the progression of a pleasing new noise. I hope you can check them out. 




Sometimes I wonder if All will ever change. Though they’ve been doing the same happy stuff for years, they just keep getting better.

Percolator contains the typical well-rounded mix of catchy love songs and, well, catchy sad songs. All can never seem to get out of that love/live a happy life mode, and that’s fine with me. What started with Descendents has carried into All and will probably never die. Percolator is an immensely uplifting effort that will be as unobtrusive yet wholly enjoyable as their previous recordings.


Fat Tuesday 


An accessible grab-bag of musical endeavors, Fat Tuesday’s first full-length LP is a promising effort that is somewhat overshadowed by the press kit’s tendency to categorize Fat Tuesday’s sound as every band except for their own.

This Minneapolis quartet is indeed a product of their environment, displaying much of the same intensity The Replacements did when they made their drunken lambada onto that scene in the late ‘70s. If Fat Tuesday can avoid the pratfalls of future categorization, the chances of establishment for them on the basis of their own credibility might be possible.

Though somewhat nondescript, Califuneral is a likable effort that would be enjoyable if it didn’t lack a distinctive identity. Fat Tuesday’s ability to cover a variety of musical styles would allow them a chance to become an entity of their own. 


Buffalo Tom

Let Me Come Over 

Despite the fact of the nearly overplayed radio status of the song “Taillights Fade,” Boston’s Buffalo Tom is slowly becoming a more prominent name in the “alternative rock” market. Switching from the growing indie label SST to Beggars Banquet brought on a bigger listening audience with the band’s 1990 release, Birdbrain. Their style is tight, upbeat, grungy and melodic, not unlike fellow North Easterners Dinosaur Jr. But vocalist/guitarist Tom Maginnis has a style that is quite clean sounding, mixed in with that certain musical mayhem. Birdbrain was an album full of angst, weird lyrics and that grungy-noisy pop feel that has become quite popular in the recent past. But in terms of this band’s progression, think of Birdbrain in the adolescent stage, and Let Me Come Over as the post-puberty stage.

In this release, the melodies are more audible, the fuzi is turned down slightly, and acoustics are more dominating than before. Mostly. The extent of the band’s diverse writing style is shown on the tracks “Frozen Lake” and “Mineral,” which shroud with a mellow style of emotional overtones. But don’t think that the album is boring by the slowed down style the band has evolved to. Songs like “Saving Grace” and “Velvet Roof” are extremely reminiscent of their earlier material, complete with grunge and catchy lyrics, giving more of a full spectrum of sound throughout the course of the entire album. It’s worth buying. I promise. 


Uncle Tupelo 

Still Feel Gone

I always assumed that any music related to country-western style had ties to excessive twang and hick: shit attitudes: Uncle Tupelo is one of the few exceptions to the rule. Yeah, they use lots of acoustic guitars, and an occasional banjo and harmonica here and there. But what was surprising was how they could take? These stereotyped KKAT ballads of “drinking in bars, and losing’ their true loves” (amongst other redneck sob stories), and fuck them up to a point where even the grungiest “Seattle” fan could crack a smile. Take, for instance, the song “Postcard,” a tune that jumps out in a tight, noisy fashion, then relaxes into a strummin’ sing-along harmony, and then sporadically gets the grunge a’goin’ again, without missing a beat. The influence of country on these guys hasn’t by any means ruined their sound, for in its own odd way, it all fits together, very tightly knit and very musically inclined. The extent of “twang” on this album is only comparable to bands like fiIREHOSE and the earlier-era REM sound, so I personally didn’t find anything annoying on the album.

Faves of mine were “Looking For a Way Out” and their tribute “D. Bwn” (speaking of the fIREHOSE connection), which is quite catchy in its upbeat essence, and steady rockin’ progression. This album is by no means a country-western work. Personally, I think of it as a pissed off, home-down rock band, who is proud of taking CW music and twisting it out of the norm and into something that pleases people with real taste in music.

Check out more from the SLUG Archive:
Salt Lake Indies: February 1992
Record Review: February 1992