When an indie rock band manages to not only stay together but also continue to release good music for nearly thirty years, one has to wonder what its secret is. For Superchunk, its magic appears to come from political reinvigoration.
On their latest album, “What a Time to Be Alive,” the four middle-aged musicians have embraced wisdom that has come with age. They pull no punches in cleverly and aggressively criticizing the present state of politics in America. Their relevant lyrics backed by their signature sound has critics calling their album one of their best in recent memory.
“What a Time to Be Alive” is Superchunk’s eleventh release, and its first in five years. The foursome has often taken its time putting out new music, and this time their patience has paid off.
Formed in Chapel Hill, North Carolina in 1989, Superchunk brings together lead singer and guitarist Mac McCaughan, Jim Wilbur on guitar, Laura Ballance on bass, and drummer Jon Wurster. Heavily influenced by punk rock, McCaughan and Ballance started their own record label when starting the band, providing a way to promote other indie rock bands, as well as a way to ensure they would never have to bow down to corporate rock overlords.
The band’s self-titled debut album was released on independent label Matador Records in 1990 to critical praise. Their second effort, “No Pocky for Kitty,” was recorded by super-producer Steve Albini.
Matador Records soon merged with a major label, so Superchunk began releasing most of its music on Merge Records, the label started by McCaughan and Ballance.
Most of their releases have received critical support and interest within the indie rock circuit. Not becoming better recognized probably has a lot to do with their principles.
Similarly, “What a Time to Be Alive” is all about their principles. Given that all band members are either in or approaching their fifties, they are now wise sages who are telling it like it is.