A decade ago, the possibility of a musical revolution came from somewhere other than the always vibrant New York City or Los Angeles. The bite-sized college town of Chapel Hill, N.C. saw an influx of fat-cat label types hitting its bars and clubs, ready to sink their molars into the wealth of the town’s talent.
Like many booms, there was eventually a bust, with few bands remaining past that golden era in American music. Superchunk, the cream of the Southern crop for nearly 15 years, still remains as relevant as ever. With Cup of Sand, the band’s under-the-radar nuggets from the past eight years have finally found a common home to congregate in.
This double-disc compilation — a decade’s worth of B-sides, rare and unreleased tracks and singles — is not simply a footlocker for the band to store all of its extra tracks and throwaways in; it serves more as a spectrum of what the members are capable of doing. Superchunk’s albums have always served as a completed canvas rather than a bunch of great songs strung together by filler. Many of the songs on Cup of Sand are here because they didn’t fit the flow of an album, rather than because they weren’t good enough.
Likewise, the band doesn’t just cover songs by musicians who have influenced them, they try to make these songs their own. David Bowie’s “Scary Monsters” goes from a subdued art-house romp to an off-kilter Southern indie masterpiece, rounded out by frontman Mac McCaughan’s always scratchy but loveable vocal delivery.
Since their formation in 1989, Superchunk has graced us with a slew of releases, some better than others, but their tenacious gift at writing an energetic tune with a good beat has always come through. While Cup of Sand is not something for a new fan, anyone out there who has thrown their hands up and rocked out to the ‘Chunk in the past decade would be missing out if they didn’t pick up this collection.