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if I had a hi-fi
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on June 9, 2010
Format: Audio CD
I've had a few months to marinate on this album thanks to the band's generous contribution to National Record Store Day. Even though I've been a passionate advocate for Nada Surf through every album since High/Low, I bought this one with a bit of hesitation. Anytime an artist does a covers album, I wonder if it will be destined for The Onion's annual list of least essential albums - records not good or bad, but ones that simply had no reason to exist. Covers are fine for b-sides, pleasant surprises during radio sessions and concerts; but anytime they show up on a proper album, let alone an entire album (cough, Peter Gabriel), I can only think the artist has a.) run out of steam; b.) a record contract to fulfill; c.) become a cover band like Me First & The Gimme Gimmes. With "If I Had a Hi-Fi" - none of the above applies. Since I am familiar with most of the covered artists, but not the songs, the album actually works as a proper Nada Surf album, perhaps their most melodic, energetic and urgent since their first two (High/Low and the tragically overlooked masterpiece The Proximity Effect).

The two songs of which I am most aware, "Enjoy the Silence" and "Love and Anger," are the hardest for me to digest because the originals are signature pieces from Depeche Mode and Kate Bush respectively. The lush, brooking darkness of the former and the frantic, fluttering bitter euphoria of the latter are missing, these tracks have the sharp corners sanded down - but they still jangle along and are a pleasant listen. It's the rest of the tracks where Nada Surf really finds its mojo and kicks into high gear. Electrocution is a high energy romp; Bye Bye Beaute is yet another winning song in the band's French canon; Evolucion has the most heartbreaking, exquisite violin line I've heard in pop music in years; Question (Moody Blues) is Nada Surf's most straight out rocker since their debut. My fave song is Love Goes On by the dearly departed Go-Betweens - absolutely breathtaking. Nada Surf clearly loves each of these songs. They sound tighter, fitter, happier than they have in ages. Instead of the stopgap until the next proper album I expected this would be, Hi Fi one of the band's most essential and enjoyable albums.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
Like a few fans out there, I've had "If I had a Hi-Fi" since National Record Store day and have been talking it up to friends for a couple of weeks. Granted, a covers album is usually a kiss-of-death for most bands, but this is one of the rare exceptions to the rule. Nada-Surf takes on a batch of their favorites and breaks out the Rickenbackers. Frankly, this is Jangle-pop nirvana. It's "Garage Days" for power-poppers. It's really that good.

Part of the reason I dig this so much is that many of the songs are relatively obscure. Dwight Twilley is one of my all-time power-pop gurus, and NS goes for his "You Were So Warm." Bill Fox is one of those obscure guys that only alt-freaks would know about, and they unearth one of his songs for the opening track. "Electrocution" is given such a work-over that is sounds like a great lost Roger McGuinn song. Add a Spanish band's song "Evolucion" that absolutely haunts, and you've already scored three bulls-eyes.

Then there's the not-so-obscure. The primary airplay is going to Depeche Mode's "Enjoy The Silence," which sounds like REM wrote it as opposed to manic depressive British Synth Dudes. Nada Surf turns the song completely on its head, which is no minor feat. Kate Bush's "Love and Anger" loses none of it's empathic qualities, also not an easy task, given her unique qualities. And finally, there's the revved up cover of The Moody Blues' "Question," which answers the question of what a jam session between The Moodies and The Byrds might have sounded like.

That's probably my favorite track on "If I Had a Hi-fi," followed closely by the Twilley cover. There's plenty of other songs here, but suffice to say that Nada Surf has joined The Editors as one of my favorite albums for 2010.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 2010
Format: Audio CD
I was lucky enough to grab this album on Record Store Day and, being a huge Nada Surf fan, I couldn't wait to give it a listen (which, side note, if you ever get the chance to see them in concert I recommend doing so as they are fantastic live).

I rarely enjoy cover albums as I generally just want to listen to the original song but almost all of these covers are so solid that I am able to see Nada Surf's version as a reimagining as opposed to a straight cover.

I have to say, this album is much much better than I'd thought it would be. While almost every song is fantastic, Love Goes On is definitely the standout track for me on this one.

Highly Recommended!
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on March 3, 2012
Format: MP3 MusicVerified Purchase
I was introduced to Nada Surf on the One Tree Hill album and decided to check out thier other stuff. I love this album, it didn't disappoint thats for sure. It is also one I don't mind my 10 yr old listening to.
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on January 7, 2012
Format: Audio CD
The first album I heard of Nada Surf was The Weight Is A Gift. I was immediately drawn to the combination of jangly guitar and high pitched vocals that flowed so smoothly. Unlike most people, or at least reviewers, I rarely pay much attention to the lyrics. That often leads me to take a song with a completely different meaning or feeling than what was probably intended. This can almost be comical with a group like, say, Cowboy Junkies. On the plus side I get to avoid being bored with lyrics depicting emotions and or realizations of life that maybe I dealt with decades ago. It is the overall "sound" that moves me and the vocals are simply part of that.

In the last 6 months I have picked up the other albums from the group including this one. Another reviewer here comments to how they sometimes sound like the Byrds. I noticed that within the first few cuts myself. There is also a touch of America in the sound of the vocals. Outside of the Moody Blues tune I have never heard any of the originals that are covered here. That actually lets me take the album as something entirely new and yet a continuation of an overall sound by a group I like more and more.
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on June 25, 2010
Format: VinylVerified Purchase
The extra reggae track is reason enough to buy this album. The LP starts a bit too sudden in my opinion, but still, a GREAT buy.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 17, 2010
Format: Audio CD
Ok, so often I hear a song and I want to hear more like it. Please, anyone reading this review, if you love the sound of the first song you must buy Teenage Fanclub's disc "Songs From Northern Britain". It is the exact sound and it is an amazing disc. I'm sure Nada Surf loves Teenage Fanclub by their sound, so if you dig them, check out the Fannies.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2010
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
Zune gave me a free download of a song on this CD, and I swear I thought it was the Byrds! This is a very good album, even though none of the songs are originals by Nada Surf.
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