Saturday, January 14, 2012
Nada Surf - The Weight Is A Gift
“Death Cab is, Alex,” Tricia announced. I disagreed. We were discussing indie rock bands of the last decade. “No, they are just an alternative rock band,” I objected.
“Well, indie rock is really a sub-genre of alternative rock, isn’t it? So, why don’t you consider Death Cab an indie rock band?” she remonstrated. “ I felt cornered. I mean, what is an indie rock band anyway? I replied, “In 2004 they signed with Atlantic Records, a subsidiary of Warner Music Group. Atlantic is hardly an independent label.”
Tricia didn’t miss a beat, “Is that your definition of an indie rock band? For Pete’s sake!” (I thought “Who the hell is ‘Pete’?”) She continued, “Death Cab originally was signed by tiny Barsuk Records in Seattle and then released four EPs and 4 LPs under that label. Then, and only then, did they take the ‘big deal’ with Atlantic. How can they not be an indie rock band?”
She had me there but, of course, never one to admit defeat, I dug myself a deeper hole, “I just don’t see it that way. Nada Surf, now there is an indie rock band. I mean their 2006 release The Weight Is A Gift epitomizes indie rock.. It’s jangly, emotive stuff. It too was issued by Barsuk but Nada Surf never sold out to a large label.” I felt self-satisfied by my B.S. diversionary answer. My flawed plan for purposes of my ego was not to admit to her she was right about Death Cab.
She practically jumped out of her skin. Every fiber of her being became taut. She immediately mated me in this chess game of musical labels, “Alex, you are so wrong. By your standards Nada Surf could never be an indie rock band. Their first label was Elecktra, also a subsidiary of Warner Music Group.” She had me there. Still, I would not admit defeat, “Look Trish, The Weight Is A Gift is as indie an album as an indie rock band can produce, It was put out on Barsuk, City Slang and Rough Trade, all really small independent labels.”
A sly smile came over her face. She knew she had me and just wouldn’t let on. This would be checkmate. I could see the Queen coming at me from a mile away. I shifted from side to side in my chair and tried to shrink my stature to become the smallest target possible..
She put both arms on the table, leaned forward and said, “Produced? Did you say ‘produced?’” (I thought, “uh oh, Now I’m dead.”) Tricia continued, “You do realize that Chris Walla, you know who Chris Walla is don’t you Alex? Of course you do Alex. Chris Walla, the guitarist of Death Cab for Cutie, he was the producer of Nada Surf’s album The Weight Is A Gift. So, doesn’t that disqualify Nada Surf as an indie band? In other words, my dear Alex, Nada Surf is as much an ‘indie’ band as Death Cab for Cutie.”
I had no place to go. I looked straight at Trish and with surrender in my voice I said, “Well, at least we can agree that The Weight Is A Gift is a great classic alternative rock album?” Trish laughed and smiled, and loudly exclaimed, “Damn straight!”
- Old School