It's never easy being the first to do something. Not because originality's hard to come by--though it is--but because certain hard-to-maintain standards tend to be established. Chapel Hill's Superchunk busted out in 1990 with their low-rent self-empowerment anthem "Slack Motherfucker," and the debut album that followed shortly was drenched in a similar spirit, pushing the emotion-laden, superhooky punk rock pioneered by Husker Du with both more kinetic energy and more precision. Over the course of three subsequent albums, indie-rock malcontents have groused about the band losing it, but truth is that while gaining popularity Superchunk have successfully kept their music changing. They're also dyed-in-the-wool DIYers, not only resisting plenty of major label deals and eschewing managment offers but, with their most recent record, Foolish, jumping from the ultrahip Matador label to their self-run imprint Merge. The new record finds them continuing to stretch their abilities: the arrangements are more complicated, the melodies better developed, Mac McCaughan's singing improved. They've held onto their trademark sound--Laura Ballance's slow, rumbling bass wrapped in McCaughan and Jim Wilbur's surging, billowing, and slashing guitars, all propelled by the straight power of Jon Wurster's drums--but they've consciously refined, honed, and reshaped it. Now if they'd only stop the pogo dancing . . . Polvo (see separate Critic's Choice) and Sprawl (see Spot Check) open. Friday, 7 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 549-0203.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Claire.