The solo project of Mac McCaughan, known for his work in Superchunk and as co-owner of Merge Records. The latest in a long series of seminal recordings from one of indie rock's most distinguished and prolific songwriters, and the first proper Portastatic full-length since 1997's "The Nature of Sap". Far from lo-fi, it's a fully realized musical statement. Guests include Janet Weiss (Sleater-Kinney, Quasi), Tony Crow (Lambchop), Margaret White (Sparklehorse, North Elementary), Matthew McCaughan, Aaron Oliva, and John Plymale.
's Mac McCaughan, cofounder of the American indie institution Merge Records, only releases solo albums when he comes up with a surplus of idiosyncratic songs that don't fit into his regular band's oeuvre. So following the diverse instrumental score for 2001's Looking for Leonard
, McCaughan returns with Portastatic's fifth full-length release. The Summer of the Shark
is not the tossed-off affair one might expect. It is McCaughan's closest concession to Superchunk's endearing college rock, echoed in its forlorn lyrics ("And here I am with no illusions of our love," he sings on "Paratrooper") and soaring choruses. Sleater-Kinney
's Janet Weiss plays a lovely foil on the harrowing "Oh Come Down," while Lambchop
's Tony Crow adds elegant piano touches to "Don't Disappear" and "Clay Cakes." --Aidin Vaziri