The Drop (2/7): Chronicle’s guide for the music store

Nada SurfLuckyBarsuk RecordsFour out of five stars

Yes, this is the same Nada Surf that won our hearts with the ’96 single “Popular.” And no, this is not a comeback. The Brooklyn trio has been producing quirky, indie-pop gems ever since — much to the chagrin of its former major label bosses who failed to see “Popular”-potential in its more recent endeavors. So, Nada Surf went DIY, self-releasing The Proximity Effect in 2000 and joining indie label Barsuk to release 2002’s Let Go and 2005’s The Weight Is a Gift. Culled from the finer moments of these two records, Lucky is a collage of adorable but still obscure pop tunes. If tracks like “See These Bones” — an appreciating, almost-Brit pop anthem brought to life by endearing poetry — have their way, Nada Surf is bound regain its popularity without sacrificing its ’90s, alt-rock integrity.

Missy Higgins On a Clear NightReprise RecordsThree out of five stars

Already certified platinum in her homeland of Australia, Missy Higgins’ On a Clear Night promises to provide a comforting dose of Lilith Fair empowerment to a generation devoid of yesteryear’s McClachlans, Etheridges and Loebs. Higgins builds on her folksy, female influences with a masterful sense for modern pop melody. The title-track, “On A Clear Night,” maintains its mature songwriting style while ringing equal parts Imogen Heap pop and Eisley nu-folk. The album fails to breach territory unexplored by her now-prolific mother-figures but this only establishes Higgins’ right to carry the fem-rock torch.

Kate VoegeleDon’t Look AwayMySpace RecordsZero out of five stars

Don’t Look Away will go platinum because its singer played some sappy, bit part on some sappy primetime television show. But it won’t go platinum for original songwriting or artistic talent. Please, stop feeding the corporate s*** machine.

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