Thursday, August 7, 2008

Cars: Precision Auto

Superchunk: Precision Auto [purchase]

"Do not pass me,
Just to slow down,
I will move right through you."

Before the strings and introspection and soft-rock impulses kicked in, Superchunk was a take-no-prisoners rock band. From their formation in 1989 through maybe 1996, you could always hear the new wave English influences (The Cure, Echo And The Bunnymen, The Smiths, e.g.) bubbling under, but they filtered that precious jangle through crunchy ... some might say, chunky ... intertwining guitars and pure punk rock energy. While they became too twee for my tastes, Superchunk remains one of the best examples of the post-punk DIY American underground you're ever gonna find. At every step of their career they did it their way, on their terms, with little corporate/conglomerate/multinational something-or-another influence getting in the way. Much respect.

"Precision Auto" is the leadoff track from their third album, On The Mouth, and was their first to feature new drummer, Jon Wurster, who ratcheted up the ass-kicking quotient dramatically with his heavy, yet fluid drum sound. Produced by John Reis (carnival barker for those righteous beacons of rock 'n' roll fury, Rocket From The Crypt), I think this album stands as their masterpiece, both in terms of songwriting and capturing Superchunk's command of stage dynamics. The band on this record and the band you saw live (that you couldn't help but pogo to), were just about the same. You can hear it all through "Precision," which sounds like it could be the aural interpretation of a car crash, what with sounds of skidding, sirens, and the thud of crashing. A masterpiece of a song and I never realized they made a video of it. Total early-'90s time capsule. I think 78% of all "college rock" videos made between 1988-94 looked like this ... not that it's a bad thing.

The final piece of evidence in defense of Superchunk's greatness is Laura Ballance (pictured on bass above). She rocks, she's hot, and she was one of the founders of über-indie empire, Merge Records. Word daddy-o.

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