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For the new EP, Portastatic's Mac McCaughan taps into his Merge catalog, covering songs from Spoon, Destroyer, Magnetic Fields, Lambchop, and lesser-known acts from Merge's past: Matt Suggs, Spent, and the Renderers.

If you've followed Merge bands for the past 20 years, this EP is like a stroll down indie-memory lane. And who better to guide you than Merge founder McCaughan, with that high-pitched howl that defined his band Superchunk?

But if you're not familiar with these bands or McCaughan's croon, then after he plays the catchier songs, such as Spoon's barroom anthem "Anything You Want" and Destroyer's trippy tune "Foam Hands," you'll probably ditch the guided tour.

As a fan of Superchunk and Portastatic, I probably wouldn't stick around either. I find myself listening to the Spoon and Destroyer covers and clicking over the others where McCaughan slows things down and sings in a soft, sometimes creepy whisper. Though my appreciation for McCaughan's work hasn't diminished, it hasn't grown. Mac just made old Merge songs...in tune, nothing more.

  • Album title: Make It Sound in Tune (2009)
  • Artist: Portastatic
  • Label: Merge Records
  • Songs: Where's Your Patience, Dear (Matt Suggs), Anything You Want (Spoon), Old Orchard Beach (the Magnetic Fields), West (Spent), The Saturday Option (Lambchop), Foam Hands (Destroyer), A Million Lights (the Renderers)
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