Just got back from a show

I tried to entitle this post “The Best ‘Had a Novelty Hit in the Late 90s and Everyone Probably Thinks They’ve Gone the Way of Third Eye Blind But They’re Still Around and Really Hitting Their Musical Stride’ Band You’ve Never Heard Of” but ExpressionEngine got all mad at me and denied me like the peasant I am.

OK, EE didn’t get mad at me. I just ran out of space in the “Title” field.

I just came back from seeing Nada Surf at the Aladdin. Fun Portland Factlet: The Aladdin used to be a stroke movie theater. The beady-eyed hag who sits behind me in the office once informed me proudly that she saw Debbie Does Dallas there with her husband.  If you guys knew N., you’d pity me this piece of TMI, because she looks, acts and sounds like George Costanza’s mother’s slutty younger sister. The urge to throw myself out of the third-story window after imagining N. and her husband (equally hideous) watching an X-rated movie was strong, but I beat it back. Barely.

Ahem. Sorry for the slight de-rail. Back to pimping one of my favorite bands, Nada Surf.

You’ll just have to forgive them for “Popular,” which was a minor hit in… 97? 98? The album, High/Low, was really uneven overall, with a couple of good songs but the rest being drek.

I bought High/Low on a very foolish impulse, and it kind of kicked around in my CD collection, gathering dust. Two years ago, however, I was watching Conan O’Brien, and they came on. Frankly, I was shocked they were still around. I was positive they’d bitten the dust ages ago, together with bands like Tonic (remember them? Actually, please don’t, blech). And their song? It didn’t suck. In fact, I really liked it.

Turned out that they had a new-ish album out called Let Go, and lo, it was very, very good. Yes, the lyrics were sometimes awful, but when the boys got it right, they got it RIGHT. And the music? Tres, tres jolie. Plus there’s a song in there sung entirely in French. French with a heavy American high-school tang, but it’s still amazingly pretty, and as amusing as listening to somebody with a very heavy French accent sing in English.

Their latest album, The Weight is a Gift, doesn’t have quite as many perfect songs as Let Go, but it’s still verra good.

They are REALLY FUCKING FUN live. There are only three of them, and all three of them sing and harmonize. It’s amazing how huge, how textured they sound with only a guitar, a bass and a conventional drum set. I was also shocked at how good the lead singer, Matthew Caws, sounded live. He has a somewhat reedy voice, and if there’s one thing The Flaming Lips has taught me, it’s that these types of voices can go very, very, very badly flat during a live performance. Then James Mercer of The Shins restored my faith in reedy-voiced boys performing flawlessly while live. I wasn’t sure how Caws was going to do, but as it turned out, he performed beautifully, and it wasn’t until the very last song that he hit a couple of false notes. The show, overall, actually sounded better than their albums, and I haven’t seen too many bands who perform even better live than they do in a studio. PJ Harvey and Blur come immediately to mind, but not many others.

My favorite part of the show was when they sang this random song about a kitten. In flawless three-part harmony. The chorus, literally, was “Meow meow meow meow meow meow meow.” Partway through one of the last choruses, and for no particular reason, Caws broke off and did a Milton impression (“Uh, excuse me, I believe you have my stapler”).

AWESOME.

And Caws has totally made my “Men I want to lick” list. Short, skinny, funny, sweet-faced, AND he likes Office Space. I’m in love, baby.

Anyway, if you like The Shins, Built to Spill, Arcade Fire, Grandaddy, The Flaming Lips and/or Death Cab for Cutie (random tangent: I don’t know what it is about DCFC that makes me want to go Joe Pesci on the lead singer every time I hear his voice, but DEAR GOD I HATE THIS BAND and I don’t even know how I’m allowed to like indie music without lurrrrving DCFC but seriously? I want to stick sharp ballpoint pens into the lead singer’s throat, that’s how much I can’t stand his voice, which is weird because other singers with similar voices don’t give me pause AT ALL) and anyway, end of DCFC hateration, back to pimping Nada Surf. Give them a chance. They are excellent and underrated. If you want some samples, check out their videos.

Sorry this has nothing to do with romance novels or trashy fiction. Does the fact that i’m picturing myself doing unspeakable, dirty things to Matthew Caws count as being somewhat peripherally related to romances? Or the fact that I’m kind of depressed that you won’t find somebody similar to him (short, dorky, funny, not afraid to act silly for the sake of comedy) in a mainstream romance novel because many romance readers seem to prefer their heroes tall, dark, muscularly be-titted, and not averse to smacking the heroine around?

Yeah, didn’t think so. But if I introduce one other person to the joy of Nada Surf, I’ll consider this space well wasted.

Update: Oh my God. I just found out that Third Eye Blind are still around. There is no God.

Update to Update: Oh fuck me, so is Tonic. AND THEY HAVE A MYSPACE PAGE. There is a God. A cruel, merciless one who revels in the suffering of His creations.

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Random Musings

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  1. 1
    Ruthie says:

    The Shins. AAAARGH!  Urk.  Gag.  DCFC pretty much the same.  Sounds like bad 70s folk rock.  I keep expecting John Denver to join in.  Shudder.

  2. 2
    Candy says:

    I keep expecting John Denver to join in.

    Ouch.

    I know I like weenie-boy rock, but John Denver weenie?

    *sobs in corner*

  3. 3

    mmmh. must check out Nada Surf.

    I don’t listen to DCFC but I am addicted to the Postal Service. Yes, I know they’re 1/2 the same people. Shaddup. :)

  4. 4

    *Ahem*  Thursday night I attended a concert with Bela Fleck, Jean-Luc Ponty and Stanley Clarke. That was a concert for the ages. As my banjo playing son later wrote on his IM away message, “Bela was so awesome my asshole exploded.”

    I wouldn’t have phrased it quite that way, but it was an accurate reflection of the evening.

  5. 5

    Last night (that would be Thursday) my husband took me to see some guitar god guy named Frank Marino and his band, Mahogany Rush, at the most run-down club in Western Pennsylvania, I swear.

    My ears are still ringing. This guy played—and I mean played—for 3.5 hours taking only a break for a cigarette while his drummer took a solo.

    So now I am a newly minted Frank Marino fan. AND I have never been to a show where so many men over 45 were acting like children/total assholes, where there was no line for the ladies’ and a huge line for the gents’, and I have no idea how I am going to get the weed smoke parfum out of my good velvet jacket.

  6. 6
    Candy says:

    I don’t listen to DCFC but I am addicted to the Postal Service.

    *makes sign of cross*

    Wait, you like Fiona Apple and Franz Ferdinand. Plus you’re my President Superbitch. I’ll overlook this trespass.

    Thursday night I attended a concert with Bela Fleck, Jean-Luc Ponty and Stanley Clarke. That was a concert for the ages. As my banjo playing son later wrote on his IM away message, “Bela was so awesome my asshole exploded.”

    That is too funny, because I’ve missed seeing Bela Fleck by an asshair a few times in the past several years. My very good friend, Jen, a crunchy granola girl with a PhD in chemistry and who participates in triathlons for fun, is a big fan. Thanks to her, I’ve seen Greg Brown (twice) and Ani DiFranco (twice), and she tried to get me to see Fleck a couple of times, but I never could make it for one reason or another.

    I’m going to steal your son’s phrase, Darlene, because that is too awesome not to use. I wonder how Laura Kinsale or Loretta Chase would feel about me using that in a review? “Kinsale’s latest book is so awesome, my asshole exploded.” How’s THAT for cover blurb material, eh?

    Joyce, never heard of Frank Marino, but I’ll have to check him out now. I don’t know how bad the wacky weed smoking got at that concert, but the worst I ever encountered was at an Ani DiFranco show at the Oregon State University amphitheater. Wooof.

  7. 7

    Wait, you like Fiona Apple and Franz Ferdinand. Plus you’re my President Superbitch. I’ll overlook this trespass.

    I also got addicted to the Kaiser Chiefs once you mentioned them. Am I forgiven yet?

  8. 8
    Candy says:

    Am I forgiven yet?

    SWEET BABY BUNNY HUGS ALL AROUND

  9. 9

    LOL nice to know the Kaiser Chiefs can buy my way into sweet bunny love.

    Awww, so soft, so furry… so tender, so delicious…

  10. 10
    Candy says:

    …braised with carrots in cottontail sauce, yummmmmy yum.

    I have “Every day I love you less and less” stuck in my head ever since you mentioned the Kaiser Chiefs, damn their catchy, infectious little hides. Which isn’t bad, actually. It could be so much worse. It could be Celine Dion, like the other day after reading EvilAuntiePeril’s comment about the “powahhhh of lurve.”

  11. 11

    “When Canada is dead and gone, There’ll be no more Celine Dion!”

    There, a little South Park to brighten up your day.

    Funny you should mention Daffy Duck since we just saw that cartoon yesterday (love Netflix. Looney tunes for everyone!)

    *humming Every Day I Love You less & less…*

  12. 12
    Arethusa says:

    Well. I like The Shins—ok two songs from The Shins—and I think I heard a Nada Surf track once. Blonde on Blonde? Could listen to that for hours.

    Third Blind is not alive. Shut up! :o Alive where?? And Tonic? That takes me back to prep school and bad top 40 radio.

  13. 13
    Candy says:

    Blonde on Blonde? Could listen to that for hours.

    YES. That’s quite possibly the best song on Let Go, but I’m really fond of “Happy Kid” because a lot of the words resonate with me, especially the first bit (“I’m just a happy kid / stuck with the heart of a sad punk”) and the chorus (“no matter who I hang out with / I can hear the clack clunk / of the chains that pull the cars up / the roller coaster”).

    It’s shocking how many really, really good songs they packed into that one album. If you like “Blonde on Blonde,” there’s a better than average chance that you’ll like Let Go as a whole.

  14. 14
    Arethusa says:

    Ok ok. Your forced me into it. :searchesiTunes:

  15. 15
    gail says:

    Does the fact that i’m picturing myself doing unspeakable, dirty things to Matthew Caws count as being somewhat peripherally related to romances? Or the fact that I’m kind of depressed that you won’t find somebody similar to him (short, dorky, funny, not afraid to act silly for the sake of comedy) in a mainstream romance novel because many romance readers seem to prefer their heroes tall, dark, muscularly be-titted, and not averse to smacking the heroine around?

    I have picked up and put down three or four books in the last couple of days because the heroes were all too too handsome and muscularly be-titted. (I had my 19 yo son who is rather well endowed man-titty-wise here at SBTB cracking up at the cover snarking, BTW) Anyway, I’m still looking for something to read where the hero isn’t handsome enough to stop hearts when he walks into a room. I want to read about a guy who’s special because of who he is, not how he looks. (sigh)

    Oh, and I like Franz Ferdinand—at least some of their stuff. I’ll see if the boy can hook me up with some Nada Surf… (he’s my dealer)

  16. 16
    CindyS says:

    “Bela was so awesome my asshole exploded.”

    Darlene your boy is a frigin’ genuis!  Brings a tear to the dear mama’s eye when the wee ones bring out the comic gold ;)

    CindyS

  17. 17
    Arethusa says:

    That Nada Surf album? Let Go? Fucking rocks.

  18. 18
    Arethusa says:

    Thanks for the rec! (So sorry, I forgot my manners in the previous comment and could hear my mother, a thousand miles away, scolding me as soon as I hit “submit”.)

  19. 19
    Candy says:

    Of COURSE you did. My taste in all things is impeccable. *snort*

    Anyway, I’m glad you enjoyed Let Go, Arethusa.

  20. 20
    Eddie Adair says:

    Oh, Candy, thank you for liking Nada Surf. And the live performances of PJ Harvey and Blur. And for hating Death Cab for Cutie. One more reason to love this site.

    NS came to my college a few times, mostly in the latter part of my time there, as we started nixing on the Dave Matthews-type stuff (thank heaven) and started booking indier stuff (think Guster). Love that Matthew Caws—he’s a wacky little man.

    My Yahoo Launchcast station started playing Grandaddy because it was recommended by Nada Surf and Built to Spill fans. I really like their sound. Also, as long as we’re plugging indie folk/pop, I have to send a prayer of thanks to the divine Ted Leo.

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