Skip to main content

12 by Nada Surf

12 by... aims to summarize and artist's career in 12 songs. This one features...

 An underrated band if there ever was one, and one that managed to defy all odds by overcoming one-hit wonder status and the major label death blow and become one of the most reliable bands of the 2000s and beyond.

1. "Pressure Free" (from Karmic EP, 1995)
"And if I'm waiting for nothing / then what am I doing?" A Gen X anthem if there ever was one.

2. "Popular" (from High/Low, 1996)
Sure, it's gimmicky and not representative of who they are as a band. But it's also funny and clever.

3. "Zen Brain" (from High/Low, 1996) 
The song from their Ric Ocasek-produced debut that most predicts the band they'd eventually become. While still ensconced in the Weezer-esqe fuzz, the searching lyrics and strong melody are clear harbingers. 

4. "Hyperspace" (from The Proximity Effect, 2000) 
Wherein the band is revealed as the power-poppers they truly are. "Hyperspace" also shows a clear jump in polish - just listen to the bass and drums - despite the fact that The Proximity Effect was more DIY than their first album. 

5. "Amateur" (from The Proximity Effect, 2000) My favorite part is when singer Matthew Caws' lyrical disco ball reference gets a disco beat response from drummer Ira Elliot. 

6. "Blizzard of '77" (from Let Go, 2003) 
A swift acoustic barn-burner with great imagery, i.e. "the cars were just lumps in the snow." 

7. "Inside Of Love" (from Let Go, 2003) 
This used to be my theme song, pre-Wendy. You can really feel Caws when he sings: "I'm on the outside of love / always under or above / must be a different view / to be a me with a you." 

8. "The Way You Wear Your Head" (from Let Go, 2003) 
Great rocker with a Cheap Trick paraphrase and a car alarm rhythm. 

9. "Concrete Bed" (from The Weight Is A Gift, 2005) 
It's rare to find a songwriter who can turn a philosophical phrase without coming off like a prick. Bono and James Taylor can do it, and so can Matthew Caws. "To find someone you love," he tells us, "you've gotta be someone you love." 

10. "Do It Again" (from The Weight Is A Gift, 2005) 
In the midst of an on-again-off-again involvement with a girl (which was a bad idea all around), I found great solace in this song. I always tried to interpret the line "maybe this weight was a gift" as "maybe this wait was a gift." 

11. "Always Love" (from The Weight Is A Gift, 2005) 
More philosophy: "always love / hate will get you every time." Okay hippie, whatever, I guess it's kind of true. By the way, America covered this song. How weird is that? 

12. "Blankest Year" (from The Weight Is A Gift, 2005) 
"Oh, fuck it!" Just like Miles (Curtis Armstrong) pointed in Risky Business, they can be very liberating words. 

*

The above was revised in 2021. Here's the original entry:

1. "Zen Brain" (from High/Low, 1996) 
The song from their debut that most predicts the band they'd eventually become. While still ensconced in the Weezer-esqe fuzz, the searching lyrics and strong melody are clear harbingers. 

2. "Popular" (from High/Low, 1996)
Sure it got them 

2. "Hyperspace" (from The Proximity Effect, 2000) 
Wherein the band is revealed as the power-poppers they truly are. "Hyperspace" also shows a clear jump in polish - just listen to the bass and drums - despite the fact that The Proximity Effect was more DIY than their first album. 

3. "Amateur" (from The Proximity Effect, 2000) My favorite part is when singer Matthew Caws' lyrical disco ball reference gets a disco beat response from drummer Ira Elliot. 

4. "Blizzard of '77" (from Let Go, 2003) 
A swift acoustic barn-burner with great imagery, i.e. "the cars were just lumps in the snow." 

5. "Inside Of Love" (from Let Go, 2003) 
This used to be my theme song, pre-Wendy. You can really feel Caws when he sings: "I'm on the outside of love / always under or above / must be a different view / to be a me with a you." 

6. "The Way You Wear Your Head" (from Let Go, 2003) 
Great rocker with a Cheap Trick paraphrase and a car alarm rhythm. 

7. "Concrete Bed" (from The Weight Is A Gift, 2005) 
It's rare to find a songwriter who can turn a philosophical phrase without coming off like a prick. Bono and James Taylor can do it, and so can Matthew Caws. "To find someone you love," he tells us, "you've gotta be someone you love." 

8. "Do It Again" (from The Weight Is A Gift, 2005) 
In the midst of an on-again-off-again involvement with a girl (which was a bad idea all around), I found great solace in this song. I always tried to interpret the line "maybe this weight was a gift" as "maybe this wait was a gift." 

9. "Always Love" (from The Weight Is A Gift, 2005) 
More philosophy: "always love / hate will get you every time." Okay hippie, whatever, I guess it's kind of true. By the way, America covered this song. How weird is that? 

10. "Blankest Year" (from The Weight Is A Gift, 2005) 
"Oh, fuck it!" Just like Miles (Curtis Armstrong) pointed in Risky Business, they can be very liberating words. 

11. "Whose Authority" (from Lucky, 2008) 
Holy cow, have they been listening to Teenage Fanclub or what?! 

12. "Beautiful Beat" (from Lucky, 2008) 
An an ode to the power of song, but is also the exact kind of song it's about. Just like the snake eating its own tail.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

12 by Weezer

Here's the drill: 12 songs to summarize an artist's career, in chronological order (of course). This one features... I decided to take an unconventional route for this 12 by, and pretend Weezer have already released a "greatest hits." Here's what I think that would look like:  1) "Buddy Holly", 2) "Undone - the Sweater Song", 3) "My Name Is Jonas", 4) "The Good Life", 5) "El Scorcho", 6) "Hash Pipe", 7) "Island in the Sun", 8) "Dope Nose", 9) "Keep Fishin'", 10) "Beverly Hills", 11) "We Are All On Drugs", 12) "Pork and Beans".  Here's a different take: 1. " Say It Ain't So"  (from Weezer , 1994)  A little bit heavy, a little bit catchy, quiet-loud dynamics. So basically, it's Pixies lite. The song is interesting lyrically because it's basically nonsense until the "Dear daddy..." bridge, which lets out a t

12 by Jenny Lewis

Here's the drill: 12 songs to summarize an artist's career, in chronological order (of course). This one features... Completely separate from Rilo Kiley, Jenny Lewis has put together an impressive oeuvre that is very difficult to winnow down to just 12 songs (if you include her work with Rilo Kiley, fuhgeddaboudit). But I've made what I feel is a valiant attempt. Because I admire Jenny's lyrics so much, I'm going to limit my commentary to a favorite couplet from the song. (If you have Amazon Music Unlimited, you can listen along here .) 1. "Rise Up With Fists!!!" (from Rabbit Fur Coat , 2005) "But you can wake up younger, under the knife / And you can wake up sounder, if you get analyzed." 2. "Melt Your Heart" (from  Rabbit Fur Coat , 2005) "It's like a valentine from your mother / It's bound to melt your heart." 3. "Born Secular" (from Rabbit Fur Coat , 2005) "God works in mysterious ways / And God give

12 by Vicious Vicious

Here's the drill: 12 songs to summarize an artist's career, in chronological order (of course). This one features... If you need a reference point for the work of Vicious Vicious mastermind Erik Appelwick, the most appropriate would be Beck. Like Mr. Hansen, Minnesota-based Appelwick has the ability to navigate between making you laugh and making you cry and making you want to dance, and embraces genres from country to R& B to folk to pop.  I've included songs from the two albums Appelwick did under the name Tropical Depression, because honestly there's not a lot of difference between that and Vicious Vicious.  I very literally  wrote the book  on Appelwick, so please feel confident you are hearing from an authority here.  If you have Amazon Music Unlimited, you can listen to an alternate version of list here  (sadly, not all of VV's music is on the service). 1. "Shake That Ass on the Dance Floor" (from Blood + Clover , 2003) A loungy, laconic come-on