Thursday, June 28, 2012
In lots of ways Nada Surf were the canary in the coal-mine of the music industry. They had big success early in their career on a major label at a time when people couldn't steal music so easily. They had a ubiquitous summer hit with loads of radio airplay and lots of MTV love. The problem was their big hit, Popular didn't sound like anything they had made before nor after. In fact, it was a novelty hit of sorts and the band's follow-up The Proximity Effect did not have the same popular success. After that point Nada Surf had to re-learn how to sell records and earn money in the ranks of the do-it-yourself indie world. They took the lessons they learned from the their career bottle-rocket in the major label world and they changed their approach. They continued to hone their pop-songcraft sensibilities but without the money and muscle of a major label they started doing more promotional footwork. They played more radio shows, they did more meet-and-greets, they accepted more interview requests and they worked their own merch table at shows to have more face to face with their fans. In short, they created a model for how to be a successful indie-band for every band that came after them. I'm not saying every indie-band does these things but they should. Get yourself a ticket and see what I'm talking about in action at La Zona Rosa Friday night.
Nada Surf - When I Was Young video via YouTube
The Stars are Indifferent to Astronomy is the fifth independently-released full-length from Nada Surf and it contains some of their finest work. The progression from Let Go to this point has been quite evident. Each album explores similar themes but the songwriting continues to mature, the hooks become more polished and the lyrics more relatable and less-obtuse.
If you're reading this and you have no idea who Nada Surf is, or your only knowledge of them is the song Popular PLEASE go listen to The Weight is a Gift. I know it sounds hyperbolic and cliche' but I would, literally, not be writing this right now if it weren't for that record. I won't get in to the details on that point but I will emphasize how important that record is to me and my life.