'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
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.