Barsuk Records is excited to announce the release of the new Nada Surf record, The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy, on January 24, 2012. NPR debuted the first track, “When I Was Young,” yesterday. Fans can now grab, share and re-post the free download from NPR HERE. Stars is Nada Surf’s seventh record, and fourth for Seattle indie Barsuk, following the successful and critically lauded Let Go (2003), The Weight is a Gift (2005), Lucky (2007) and their self-released covers record if i had a hifi (2010). This is their first album of new material in four years. The band will perform a day-of-release show at New York City’s Bowery Ballroom.
Nada Surf’s lineup for 15 years has been and still is Matthew Caws (vocals, guitar), Daniel Lorca (bass) and Ira Elliot (drums), though this time, as on if i had a hifi and the tour that followed, they invited guitarist Doug Gillard (Guided by Voices, Death of Samantha) to join in the proceedings. Chris Shaw (Wilco, Brendan Benson, Elvis Perkins in Dearland and Super Furry Animals) was brought in to produce and record, having worked with the band before when he mixed their hit song, “Always Love.”
Unlike all of the other Nada Surf records, Stars was made with a distinct attempt to capture their live sound.
“We’ve always played faster and a little harder live,” Caws says, “but we’d play so carefully in the studio. So with this album, we made a conscious decision to preserve what it felt like in the practice room, when you play with that new-song energy. Just embrace it and not worry whether we’re overdoing it, kind of get all the thinking out of the way.” The tempos are high, but the songs bristle with hooks, breathtaking changes, and Nada Surf’s trademark genius bridges. The educated ear will hear the influence of many bands from ’60s Brit-pop to post-punk and vintage indie, and yet there is an unmistakable Nada Surf sound: a certain rhythm section groove, introspective chord shapes and the unique emotional weight to Caws’s voice, both boyish and very soulful, a combination of wisdom and vulnerability.
“I really love Nada Surf,” author Jennifer Egan told Minnesota Public Radio this year, adding that she listened to the band’s music for inspiration while writing her 2010 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel A Visit from the Goon Squad. “What they write about is very subtle moments of everyday life. They make it all look and feel very easy and natural.”
“The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy is tremendous – full of big, blooming rock that practically glows with generosity,” says NPR. “As its title indicates, the record frequently examines the perils of over-analysis; of self-flagellation and pining for fantasy worlds instead of living and enjoying life. Among The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy’s many highlights is “When I Was Young,” a winsome look at the disconnect between youthful wishes and adult realities. Naturally, Caws takes the least grim possible position: that we’re lucky enough to age into a place where the world we want is ours for the taking.”
Nada Surf had made all but their first record outside of New York, figuring they’d avoid distractions. But if you want to preserve the energy of the practice room, why not record in the practice room? So for Stars they set up shop in their rehearsal space in Lorca’s long-time loft in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The place is nicknamed “The Sitcom” because it regularly hosts a revolving cast of colorful characters and some legendary parties. There were some issues though – “We couldn’t do vocals late at night,” says Caws, “because the music from the bar downstairs would come through the floor.”
“Making this album was such a joy, the most fun we’ve had with a record,” Caws continues. “Formany years I’d only write if I had something troubling going on in my life and I needed to break through, but now I wanted to get past writing about just myself. That new outlook, for me, is the engine for making this record.”
The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy continues the notion of music as an alternative reality, and songs as things you can keep by your side for inspiration and support. Which is what makes Nada Surf a truly beloved band.