Release Date: Apr 28, 2009
Record label: The End
Genre(s): Rock, Experimental
2008 was Nadja's year... in this little corner of the world. In a year of ever-decreasing physical purchases, and ever-increasing optimism about music-as-art (Yes, really), Nadja were one of a handful of bands who gave me the thrill of tracking down some beautifully – or charmingly – packaged records, and leafing through import magazines (Under the Radar, Skyscraper) for the interviews that first brought them to my attention.
You probably assumed there was no earthly way that "Only Shallow", the opening track on My Bloody Valentine's immortal Loveless, could possibly get any heavier or more monolithic. And there, apparently, you would have been wrong: the Toronto metal-gaze duo Nadja proves it on the first seconds of their audacious and spectacular new covers record When I See the Sun Always Shines On TV. Their version slows the tempo so drastically that the song feels like it might derail; listening to it feels like watching a drunk friend stagger to their front door and praying they don't trip on their dragging feet.
If you want to be a Nadja completist, you’ll not only have to have a deep appreciation for the kind of ambient drone/shoegaze music that makes vinyl geeks drool uncontrollably, but also a willingness to go through the effort (not to mention the cash) to keep up with the Toronto duo’s extremely prolific work ethic. Guitarist Aidan Baker and bassist Leah Buckareff might have been putting out music since only 2003, but over the last six years they’ve amassed a discography as staggering as that of a veteran artist who’s been around for four decades. In fact, so crazed has their recording output become that 2008 yielded more than 20 different releases, ranging from full-length albums, seven-inch singles, EPs, remixes, and split CDs.
As artists experimenting at the extreme edges of metal and ambient electronics, Aidan Baker and Leah Buckareff are intriguing candidates to record a covers album. Songs by a diverse array of bands, from Swans to a-ha, receive Nadja's perverse Midas touch: every track is transformed into a gloriously doomy, molasses-thick dronescape, with sustained, effects-laden chords that threaten to reverberate on into the next day. You'd expect a metal cover here and Nadja oblige with Slayer's "Dead Skin Mask," featuring some surprisingly conventional riffage amid its dense layers.
Review Summary: For the first time, Nadja disappoints.Ah, the virtues of a cover album. Of which, of course, there are really none. There are really only a few reasons a band would make a cover album, and I’ve narrowed these down to a plausible two:A) To make money.B) To diverge from the monotony and whatnot of always having to come up with new ideas by making a throwaway cover album, mostly for kicks.Obviously, since I doubt Aidan Baker and Leah Buckareff make a whole lot considering the music they create, When I See The Sun Always Shines on TV would have to belong in the second category, even though it’s hard to imagine a Nadja record done “mostly for kicks”.