Sunday, December 5, 2010

Nada Surf - High/Low


Released right in the middle of the 90s, it always seemed to me that Nada Surf provided the link between the sounds of grunge, the nerd-rock of bands like Weezer and the smart art-rock of Sonic Youth and others.  This despite their first single being a huge anthem to the downside of being the coolest kid at school with Popular.

Unfortunately, while High/Low has travelled the years very well and more recently has achieved recognition as a defining piece of music, this was a long time coming.  It didn't help that the band, full of promise, were completely hobbled by a relentless record company, Elektra, looking for a follow-up hit.  When the band presented their second album, the record company basically turned their back on them, letting the album languish until they eventually dropped the band.

While the centre-piece of High/Low is undoubtedly the single, it is so different to the rest of the album, the way it sticks out from the rest of the album is a bit like a sore thumb (I imagine the band probably feel the same way about the song too).  While there is not a dud track here, I particularly like Treehouse, The Plan, Sleep and the closer, Zen Brain.  Definitely a Forgotten Gem for me, so...



Of course I remembered Popular but I hadn't heard any of the rest of the album before, and I was pleasantly surprised.  Good fun, well put together, nice hooks - a shame the "long dark corridor" of the recording industry didn't treat them better.

But it got me thinking - wouldn't this be a great Glee episode?  They could do all those school-type songs.  How about adding in Teenage Dirtbag by Wheatus and of course Smells Like Teen Spirit? Then I guess we'd have to have Rock and Roll High School and Beck's Loser.  An episode about high school songs: an instant classic.

Anyway, I loved High/Low and I wasn't expecting to.  Yay!


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