Superchunk Can Always Count On: Some Bands From Oz

Don’t call it a comeback, Superchunk‘s been here for years. The band members just haven’t been doing anything since the release of 2001’s stellar Here’s To Shutting Up. Well, not much together, anyway, apart from a few one-off gigs and the occasional single. Singer/guitarist Mac McCaughan and bassist Laura Ballance have their hands full running Merge Records and raising families (plus McCaughan has released a number of fine Portastatic records); drummer Jon Wurster has toured and/or hit the studio with the likes of Robert Pollard, the New Pornographers, Bob Mould and the Mountain Goats in between hilarious Facebook postings and Best Show On WFMU appearances; and while we’re not sure what guitarist Jim Wilbur has been up to, other than gigging with Portastatic, he probably has a lot on his plate, too. It’s a wonder the busy quartet was able to reconvene for the fine Majesty Shredding (Merge), a more-than-welcome return that’s accompanied by the band’s first full-on, albeit relatively brief, tour since 2001. Superchunk will be guest editing all week. Read our Q&A with McCaughan and Ballance.

Jim: I don’t know what it is—the climate and geography, the relative isolation, the wide-open roads and spaces, what—but for some reason Australia has produced an inordinate number of bands and musicians whose work I’d hate to live without. Sure, I’ll probably always be fond of the classics (i.e. Minor Threat, the Minutemen, Bruce Springsteen, early Prefab Sprout and so on), but my personal musical holy trinity remains Antipodean: the Go Betweens, the Triffids and the Church. Other more recently formed outfits from Down Under that warrant your serious attention are Machine Translations, Gersey, Gaslight Radio and Augie March. That said, sadly, most of these bands are currently inactive. Grumble and sigh.