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Album Review: Superchunk - "I Hate Music"

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”

With a team of experts on hand, we look at six workhorse vintage amps you can still find for around $1,000 or less.

If you survey the gear that shows up on stages and studios for long enough, you’ll spot some patterns in the kinds of guitar amplification players are using. There’s the rotating cast of backline badasses that do the bulk of the work cranking it out every day and night—we’re all looking at you, ’65 Deluxe Reverb reissue.

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Amazon Prime Day is here (July 16-17). Whether you're a veteran player or just picking up your first guitar, these are some bargains you don't want to miss. Check out more deals here! https://amzn.to/3LskPRV

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A technicolor swirl of distortion, drive, boost, and ferocious fuzz.

Summons a wealth of engaging, and often unique, boost, drive, distortion, and fuzz tones that deviate from common templates. Interactive controls.

Finding just-right tones, while rewarding, might demand patience from less assured and experienced drive-pedal users. Tone control could be more nuanced.

$199

Danelectro Nichols 1966
danelectro.com

4.5
4
4
4.5

The Danelectro Nichols 1966, in spite of its simplicity, feels and sounds like a stompbox people will use in about a million different ways. Its creator, Steve Ridinger, who built the first version as an industrious Angeleno teen in 1966, modestly calls the China-made Nichols 1966 a cross between a fuzz and a distortion. And, at many settings, it is most certainly that.

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The author standing next to a Richardson gunstock lathe purchased from Gibson’s Kalamazoo factory. It was used to make six necks at a time at Gibson in the 1950s and 1960s.

Keep your head down and put in the work if you want to succeed in the gear-building business.

The accelerated commodification of musical instruments during the late 20th century conjures up visions of massive factories churning out violins, pianos, and, of course, fretted instruments. Even the venerable builders of the so-called “golden age” were not exactly the boutique luthier shops of our imagination.

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