. : : January 7th, 2010 : : .
Nada Surf was riding an incredible career resurgence.
Often classified as a one hit wonder with the alternative radio hit Popular in the mid-90s, creative differences with their records label lead them to sit out their sophomore album, Proximity Effect, in North America.
Constant touring in Europe while waiting for their contacts to expire lead to a diamond sharp refinement, and the band was surprisingly wholly embraced by the indie-rock community for their follow up disc, Let Go, which was in turn followed up by excellent efforts The Weight is a Gift and Lucky.
The band has also had some crossover success with soundtrack covers of songs like If You Leave (OMD), Where is my Mind (Pixies), and All You Need is Love (Beatles) in the mid-to-late-aughts.
It was unusual that the band would follow up a trio of critically acclaimed indie rock albums with a covers album — especially one with a selection of songs considerably left of the dial.
Yet, that’s exactly what the palindrome titled If I Had A Hi-Fi was. Songs selected solely by members of the band, with only a couple of instantly recognizable songs among the bunch (including Depeche Mode‘s Enjoy The Silence), the album was a bit of a head scratcher.
Can an album of songs written by other people be a vanity project? Yet, who was clamouring for the trio to perform songs by Dwight Twilley or The Silly Pillows?
Credit where credit is due: the band was self-aware enough to only play three or four of the more familiar, accessible songs with them on tour for the album, of the two dozen or so songs played most nights.
The album release was heralded by 3 shows over 3 consecutive nights in then-hometown New York; each of the nights were one of the previous three albums played front-to-back (Let Go, The Weight is a Gift, Lucky), and a second truncated set of older favourites and covers from the album bring promoted.
As far as I can tell in my research, none of the songs were played after 2012 — two years removed from the album’s release, and in the early cycle of the follow up, The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy.
This recording was just as the album was finishing the mastering process, still two months before release. KEXP was in New York and invited the band in to the Cutting Room Studios for a quick set; I captured the special preview set via the radio stations now defunct online lossless audio stream.
As an aside, I remember being asked why I recorded those streams when KEXP archived them in lossless format in their website. “Where are those streams now?” I ask those naysayers.
I mean, not that anyone’s been knocking down doors for this recording anymore then they were an album of semi-obscure covers in the first place, but it’s still a solid, professional recording of a great band playing some decent cover songs. And it clocks in at only about 20-minutes.
Nada Surf fans, give this one a listen. Curious, would-be fans can find some great recordings on this site that would better represent the band, and I’d likely suggest you start there. But come on back if you like what you hear!
- Love Goes On! [the Go-Betweens]
- Electrocution [Bill Fox]
- What Is Your Secret
- Enjoy The Silence* [Depeche Mode]
* Album version, unmastered