Superchunk update: New album on the way, Laura Ballance steps aside from touring band | Music

Superchunk update: New album on the way, Laura Ballance steps aside from touring band

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  • Photo by Jason Arthurs

At this point, it’s safe to say Superchunk is back and won’t be leaving us again anytime soon. With 2010’s comeback album Majesty Shredding, the veteran indie rockers proved they could still deliver the goods. But when the quartet issues its hashtag-ready 10th album, I Hate Music, on August 20, they’ll prove that those same goods have never been better.

Potentially the band’s fullest and most overtly pop album, I Hate Music marries indie-rock crunch to arena-rock gloss, big hooks to punk urgency, and ringing chords to jagged leads. Supported by clear, punchy production, the album’s 11 songs give clear nods to Superchunk’s varied influences, from the Misfits to Bananarama, and ultimately shows how well those disparate sounds have coalesced into Superchunk’s own.

Billed as a “dark twin” to Majesty Shredding, I Hate Music concerns itself more with heavier things. “Me & You & Jackie Mittoo” gives the album its title with the opening troll: “I hate music/ What is it worth?/ Can’t bring anyone back to this earth.” But in its touring band narrative and titular reference to the Skatalites founder who died of cancer at 42, the song bridges its Sloan-worthy effervescence with self-doubt—that is, why dedicate one’s life to entertainment? “Staying Home” brews an anthem for homebodies, its sprint-speed blast and sing-along melody evoke early Dag Nasty.

Superchunk has never shied from adopting the character of resigned romantics. There’s the hangdog hangover of “Driveway to Driveway” and the unlucky long-distance lover of “Detroit Has A Skyline.” As is their wont, Superchunk’s songwriting sets a firm foundation for the soaring hooks above.
If anything, I Hate Music only shows this older, wiser Chunk hasn’t lost its verve.

That bodes well for stamina, which Superchunk will need as it tours both coasts behind I Hate Music in August and September, including a six-gig run with Spider Bags. Unfortunately, founding bassist Laura Ballance won’t be with the band. Disclosing her struggle with hearing loss on the groups’s website, Ballance wrote, “It's not because I hate music. And it's not because I am too old. You know, that thing about if it's too loud you are too old? That keeps running through my head, dammit.” She’ll be replaced on tour by Jason Narducy, the former Verbow frontman and current bassist for Bob Mould.
“For clarity, let me add, I have not quit the band,” Ballance adds. “I am really excited to have recorded this new album with Superchunk, and I look forward to making more.”

Full dates are below. They’ll be at Cat’s Cradle on August 24.

● June 20 Calgary, AB Sled Island @ Republik
● August 22 Atlanta, GA Terminal West
● August 23 Asheville, NC The Grey Eagle
● August 24 Carrboro, NC Cat's Cradle
● September 3 Seattle, WA Bumbershoot
● September 3 San Francisco, CA The Fillmore
● September 4 Los Angeles, CA El Rey Theatre
● September 6 Portland, OR MFNW @ Crystal Ballroom
● September 23 Charlottesville, VA Jefferson Theater #
● September 24 Philadelphia, PA Union Transfer #
● September 26 Boston, MA Paradise Rock Club #
● September 27 New York, NY Bowery Ballroom #
● September 28 New York, NY Bowery Ballroom #
● September 29 Washington, DC 9:30 Club #

# = w/ Spider Bags

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