Melodic, gorgeously thick guitar hooks reign king throughout much of the 11 tracks

Superchunk
I Hate Music
Merge Records

So many awesome things were happening musically in the late ’80s. Along with the welcome (for many) demise of glam metal came scores of bands delivering new sounds—bands less concerned with their hair and pants and more intent on producing raw and thoughtful music. Whether you called it indie, college, or alternative, the genre gave way to bands like Mudhoney, Nirvana, Pavement, and the Lemonheads, and it was an exciting time to be a consumer of music.

Superchunk may not have been as big a name as some of its contemporaries coming out of the Pacific Northwest at the time, and there’s really nothing grunge-y about their music, but they were a big part of the changes that were happening on the landscape. It’s not easy to name another band able to arrange the level of beautifully hooky, guitar-fueled, power-punk tunes that these North Carolinians have been doing for a quarter century.

The group’s latest, I Hate Music, is more of the same. Melodic, gorgeously thick guitar hooks reign king throughout much of the 11 tracks, while frontman and guitarist Mac McCaughan—whose voice could be called the Geddy Lee of indie rock—wails lyrics that are more about happy than hate. One of the best records I’ve heard to date in 2013.

Must-hear tracks: “Low F” and “FOH”

Intermediate

Beginner

  • Develop a better sense of subdivisions.
  • Understand how to play "over the bar line."
  • Learn to target chord tones in a 12-bar blues.
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Playing in the pocket is the most important thing in music. Just think about how we talk about great music: It's "grooving" or "swinging" or "rocking." Nobody ever says, "I really enjoyed their use of inverted suspended triads," or "their application of large-interval pentatonic sequences was fascinating." So, whether you're playing live or recording, time is everyone's responsibility, and you must develop your ability to play in the pocket.
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We've reviewed a ton of cool gear over the past 12 months, but these stood above the rest and won our coveted Premier Gear Award.

This year more than 40 guitars, basses, effects, and amps from a diverse group of gear makers earned the coveted Premier Gear Award from our discerning editors. Here is our gear of the year.

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