Hey Awesome Album Review – Superchunk – No Pocky For Kitty (1991)

Hey Awesome Album Review is a look back at the albums released by the bands I love between 1991 and 2014.

Each review will be written while listening to the album, and I recommend you listen along as well. Each review will also be awesome.

Today, we are reviewing Superchunk‘s “No Pocky For Kitty“. Released in 1991, it was named that probably because his cat tried to eat pocky. In 1991, no one knew what the fuck pocky was. Its a Japanese treat consisting of yogurt on a graham cracker rod. Pre-internet, you probably had to know a kid who had been to Japan to know that.

All in all, my final rating for this album is an 8.7. It’s an essential indie album for the era, and laid a lot of groundwork.

To listen along with this review, use this playlist: Superchunk – No Pocky For Kitty (Grooveshark)

“Skip Steps 1 & 3” – 3:07

Just straight balls to the wall. Making every kid who bought this record glad they did. The kind of track you wanna put under all that awesome footage you took of you and your friends skateboarding or whatever you ended up doing all summer. Skip steps 1 and 3. Get to the point. An anthem for every kid in a hurry. Nice burn with this sucking wind line. The awesome thing about Superchunk, besides some of their awesome hook riffs and indie goodness, is their poetic ability. At times it really does make all the difference. They definitely have that sound that bands will try to reproduce and fail at. Maybe it’s Mac’s voice. It’s so high. Not Geddy Lee high, but still, he’s a tenor, right? right?

 

“Seed Toss” – 2:59

This was one of the first amazing Superchunk songs I remember hearing. Awesome rhyme scheme, decent beat, nice imagery. Your mood ring’s turning brown. You’re in a bad mood. Get the fuck out of my face with that negativity, Mac’s saying. Throwing all your bullshit all over the place. At least that’s what I think this is about. I wonder if anyone ever wrote one of those 33 1/3 books about this album. I could go check Amazon. Hold.

Nope, but there is a Bee Thousand one. Here’s The list of 33 1/3 books released to date (for your reference):

This song is an easy winner on any mixtape. Makes the recipient wonder what you’re really saying about them. A true gem on any mixtape.

 

“Cast Iron” – 3:48

The first track with a weird (to me) chord progression. The dissonance is strong with this one. This track takes a few listens for me to get into. That was always my deal with Superchunk. Some songs get you right away, and some are like serious repeat listens. But wasn’t that what “indie” in the early 90’s was all about? This shit ain’t radio friendly, your standard four chord bruehaha. Or however you spell it. This song sounds like another high horse narrative though. Is this album a finger pointing album? What if every song is a diss track. Is that what it’s like being Mac’s friend? Always wondering, shit, is this new song about me? Does Mac think of me as a minion who gets his advice from a Cast Iron chair? From his front porch? No *real* point in trying to analyze the lyrics to that degree, but I’m gonna, so you’d probably be best to get used to it. I also dig Superchunk because it sounds like all of the songs were written in a garage, where you just shout stuff into the mic, listen to the recording later, and make up lyrics for what you shouted. That’s how I used to write songs in high school. It was “okay”.

 

“Tower” – 2:47

Yeah rock that bass, Laura. Here’s another heavy hitting set of chords that doesn’t follow any sort of musical theory I know of. But I’m just a dabbler in the musical arts. This song is really all about the chorus, right? This shit is an awesome hook. Dat poetry tho. Here’s an experiment. Go pick four random notes and repeat them. Then pick 3 other notes and work em into a different phrase with the first note of the first group. Repeat. Sing something good over it. Then, write awesome lyrics for whatever you sang. Get a friend to drum over it. Does it sound like a Superchunk song? Does it? This is not a Superchunk diss, I’m genuinely curious.

 

 

“Punch Me Harder” – 2:13

For a song called “Punch Me Harder”, this song has enough oomph to give some poor sap bruises in a worked up concert pit. I bet so many kids’ moms were so mad at Superchunk a few days after this went down. You’d think Chapel Hill’s indie elite probably wouldn’t actually go punching kids during a show, but you know there’s those fringe bullies who just need “a reason”, and singing “Punch me harder” over and over is probably gonna do it. Which is weird, because maybe it’s being sang ironically at some bully in Mac’s past? Unless he’s a masochist and we just don’t know about it. I didn’t catch any masochistic references in their book “Our Noise: The story of Merge Records”. I recommend it.

 

 

“Sprung a Leak” – 3:01

Oh shit. Maybe sprung a leak from getting punched harder? As I recall, this song doesn’t really do it for me. It’s not the weird time signature in the chorus either.  It’s the drony vocals. If I were 19 again, and all emo, as ya do when you’re 19, I’d probably identify with this. But nowadays I’m like, hey, Superchunk, I’m gonna catch some zzz’s. Let me know when three minutes and one second are up, ok? When I needed that sort of angsty sentiment, I’d go listen to the Descendents.

 

“30 Xtra” – 2:31

When I saw Superchunk in 1995, there was a blinding light on the stage, and the dude’s amp was really tinny, and so I’d get blinded by the light, and turn my head to avoid it, and get tinny guitar in my ear. Even so, it was still an awesome show. Songs like this one were the most tinny, because the lead is just lead riffing the whole song. I don’t have a problem with that, but I couldn’t hear shit the next day. That’s all I have to say about this song. It’s a three star song on an otherwise 4.5 star song record. If you were curious, Guv’ner and Seaweed opened for them. It was in Providence, RI at Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel. It was awesome.

 

“Tie a Rope to the Back of the Bus” – 2:54

Yes. This song has all the elements of a Superchunk song, but it’s not their best. It’s like when you drink a good smoothie, and you know it’s got quality in it, but you’ve had a better smoothie the last time you came to this smoothie joint. It’s still a good smoothie, but last time the guy who made it cared a little more. Smiled a little harder. Maybe made a joke or gave you a discount or something. Same ingredients. Different delivery? Not sure. Gotta give em credit for being consistent, ingredients wise. I like smoothies, but I don’t “love” em. And that’s sort of how I feel about Superchunk. They’re way better than seBADoh, but they ain’t no Archers of Loaf. I know some people will hate me for that statement. Chances are, they aren’t reading this review. Actually, I kind of hate myself for saying that. The verdict is still up in the air.

 

“Press” – 2:08

I like this song. You know what would be neat? If someone covered all the songs on this album. Like a Superchunk tribute album, but all the covers were acoustic or something. A cursory google search shows no such album exists. Perhaps now is the time? You into covering some fuckin’ Superchunk? Hit me up. We could make that happen in this day and age. I wanna hear you buzz.

 

“Sidewalk” – 3:02

After all these tracks, I’m trying to see if this album has a motif. It definitely has that sort of “get out of my face” vibe, right? That jaded, I’m mad at the things you’re doing, I will school you on the etiquette required to be around me, young curmudgeon, holier than thou sort of vibe going. Am I way off base here? I don’t think so. I think that’s how indie happened. It’s like, hey, we like rock, and guitars, and we also don’t like you. Here’s some music. Buy some merch. but don’t hang out and talk. Unless you hate other people too. Then maybe it’s ok. What’s that phrase, when two people make friends based on their enemies? It slips my mind at the moment. We will see Superchunk grow up over the course of these reviews. It will be eye opening.

 

“Creek” – 1:41

Shortest track on the record. Written about a creek in North Carolina? My money is yes. Little pop-punk style riffage on this guy. Bt it’s not punk, is it. It is because of the vocals? I bet it is. If black flag sang this, it would sound aggro, but would also work. I don’t think I’d like it then. I like it now. Let’s not fuck with it. Unless it’s on the aforementioned cover album.

 

“Throwing Things” – 3:26

One of the best Superchunk tracks. Quintessential. Someone goes “Superchunk, yeah?” and you go “Yeah dude, throwing things” and they nod, and you nod. And you both smirk. But it’s a pretty slow track, all things considered. It’s the “Sweet Child Of Mine” of this record. And also still in that bucket of “the world is oppressing me” 19 year old mentality. 19 year olds need songs like this, though, to get them through it. “It.” We all did it. By “we” I mean anyone who gives a shit enough about Superchunk to be reading this. Anyways, cute song. Uses good vocal range. Uses awesome riffs. Awesome imagery. A real winner, this one. Love it. Also a true gem on any mixtape. You could get away with putting this AND “Seed Toss” on the same tape. If you were a mixtape master.

 

This was a pretty quintessential album to be reviewing for my second album. It really set the stage for everything to come, and rightly so. It’s raw, it has gems, it shows angst. It’s the great uncle of a lot of what we loved about the 90s.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

-rux

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