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Nadja - "When I See the Sun Always Shines on TV" (CD)

Nadja - "When I See the Sun Always Shines on TV" CD cover image

"When I See the Sun Always Shines on TV" track listing:

1. Only Shallow (My Bloody Valentine cover) (6:35)
2. Pea (Codeine cover) (4:09)
3. No Cure for the Lonely (Swans cover) (6:56)
4. Dead Skin Mask (Slayer cover) (10:06)
5. The Sun Always Shines on TV (a-ha cover) (6:01)
6. Needle in the Hay (Elliott Smith cover) (4:45)
7. Long Dark Twenties (Kids in the Hall cover) (6:35)
8. Faith (The Cure cover) (12:47)

Reviewed by on August 11, 2009

"To me this is what a covers album should be; where I liked the songs I knew and wanted to rush out and discover the songs I didn't."

Nadja is a two-piece ambient drone doom act whose prolific output - roughly 2-3 full lengths a year - means that fans are in no shortage of material to dive into. Along with an EP, "Best Of" and a split, the Canadian duo set 2009 for the release of "When I See The Sun Always Shines On TV," an album packed full of covers.

Seeing the tracklist, I was pleased this album came my way. Bands like My Bloody Valentine and The Cure paved the way for ambient and shoegaze music in the mainstream and are a staple of any indie kid's diet. In fact, "Only Shallow" and "Faith" are some of my favourite picks by the respective bands. Combine that with jumping from Slayer to A-ha and you know this album is going to be interesting.

It's hard to address an album of covers without going through some of the tracks individually, but lets start with what Nadja does to these songs first. The band has a very distinctive fuzzy sound; it's the sort of massive static fuzz that barely lets you see through to the bones underneath, but is soft enough to not put you off with white noise annoyance. They have a distinctly shoegaze feel to them and might be best described as a big, heavy Jesu.

The first three covers link incredibly well, and unknown listeners would be fooled into thinking this was a thoroughly enjoyable original post-rock doom album. Then comes "Dead Skin Mask", which being a Slayer cover, is something of a perilous situation for a band so outside of the box. How do they do? Not to bad in my opinion. It was always going to be a brave branch into weirdness, but it's respectable. It's a stretch to jump from the first three tracks but the song by itself is a warped fuzzy mean machine. And hey, this is a covers album right? I'm sure they have enough continuity in one of their mammoth full-lengths with two tracks. While I can't say the A-Ha cover gelled with me, the following takes on "Faith" and "Long Dark Twenties" stand out as really great tracks.

To me this is what a covers album should be; where I liked the songs I knew and wanted to rush out and discover the songs I didn't. Nadja combines the distorted melancholic dirges of shoegaze like My Bloody Valentine (featured) and Ride with a big fuzzy drone suited for doom metal fans, but different enough to please post-rock fans.

I enjoyed virtually all of the tracks on "When I See the Sun Always Shines on TV" and this album is going to be sticking in my player for a while. If you like the look of the songs chosen or are interested in Nadja, My Bloody Valentine or Jesu, then pick this up it because you'll love it. It's rarely I'll say that about a cover album but Nadja have a distinct enough style that it's warranted. However, If you have no idea who these bands are besides Slayer, keep on walking and check out the originals.

Highs: A near pure gold setlist and a band that knows how to make heavy music well.

Lows: A-ha cover aside, it will surely enrage psychotic Slayer fans.

Bottom line: Good stuff by a band straddling the line between metal and ambient

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)