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“Popular” has been called an accidental alt-rock radio hit by almost every music writer who has tackled the subject of Nada Surf. It was on the radio for what seemed an eternity in 1996, and for the longest time I thought “Popular” was a song by Weezer. But Weez factor or not, that song killed it. Not so much an arena- or even a festival-sized group, Nada Surf is one of that species of rock band that sounds best in cramped little sweat-box nightclubs where the air is limited and amplifier volume makes up for a lot of deficiencies. When they play San Diego on January 28, the show will be something of a CD-release party. By that time, Nada Surf will have released their seventh studio album, The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy, out in the States on January 24.

Nada Surf is an alt-rock band that was started in 1992 in New York by singer/guitarist Matthew Caws, drummer Ira Elliot, and Daniel Lorca on bass guitar. The three look as if they are from separate bands: Caws could pass for a community college music professor, Lorca sports mighty stoner dreads, and Elliot the drummer once told an interviewer that his favorite brain food was blood sausage.

Caws likened the band’s name to the experience of being lost in the vast space between one’s own ears...no reference to the actual sport of surfing. He said Nada Surf was intended more as an existential expression, but don’t hold that against them. The songs are clever and relatable, as in “Bacardi”: “When you walk home from the party/ Drunk on Bacardi and listening/ To the voices that lie to you nightly/ Make you sorry for something.” Who hasn’t been there?

The Soft Pack, Republic of Letters, and Cuckoo Chaos also perform.

NADA SURF: 4th&B, Saturday, January 28, 8 p.m. 619-231-4343. $20, $30.

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