Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Nada Surf - High/Low
My parents had this friend named Ian; he went to prison and left a box of his crap at my parent's place. Among the junk were some CDs. They were mostly inconsequential compilations of 90s grunge, the kind you always saw late at night on the SciFi channel in 1998.
I picked up this Nada Surf CD from that box when I was 16-ish. It had hovered about the house for around 8 years, like some black-magic talisman. It seemed like every time you threw it away, it came back.
The cover caught my eye, reminded me of the childhood I was growing out of. I popped in the disc and fell in love.
Maybe you remember the single "Popular," the cynical song about the football star, as if there weren't enough of those in the 90's. Market-wise, the release was pretty unremarkable. The band never really broke out, just made a mid-level career and released a couple, more indiesque, albums.
This was their first one and every song on that album took me away. I still remember driving in the middle of the year. My arm hanging out the window to catch the wind, Stalemate or Zen Brain playing, the long sunset shadows of early summer falling across the ponds and fields of Southwest Oklahoma. It was good, wholesome stuff. The songs sounded like freshly cut grass and felt like cool flowing water. The album who's cover had reminded me of childhood, ironically, made me enjoy my teenage in-between-ness.
Oddly enough, I can't really listen to it anymore, at least not in the way I used to. I feel like it was an album for a specific time in my life and now it doesn't hold that magic anymore. The songs are still good, mind you, but the creeping dread of adulthood which is so apparent in the fibers of this music doesn't speak to me as much as it did when I was 17.
As far as albums go, though, it was one of the most emotional connections I've had with one. That is why I'll speak up for it. Aside from the fact that it is a truly solid offering of 90's alt-rock; and, in a way, an anticipation of what would become popular in the mid 2000's with the new Sub-Pop sound, it truly made a difference in my life.