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    Nova Social

    Social climbers

    Nova Social are busy playing their own adept but sometimes endearingly silly tunes, plus hosting Nova Nights, a new weekly assemblage of surprising New York musicians.


    Nova Social is the just the kind of band you would expect from a couple of guys who met on the job at a Borders bookstore in Wayne, New Jersey. Equal parts silly and sincere, their cleverly written and earnestly sung songs give them an honored place in that New York / New Jersey tradition that started with They Might Be Giants and continues through Fountains of Wayne. Singer-guitarist David Nagler — who founded the group with fellow bookseller Thom Soriano — says he's also compared occasionally to Ben Folds and Joe Jackson for his vocal sound.

    David Nagler (guitar, vocals)
    Thom Soriano (bass)
    Tim Metz (drums).

    Related links: Official site
    Pictures of Ted   RA  MP3
    Sailor   RA
    © 1998 Nova Social. Used by permission.
    There are many ways to hear Nova Social these days, beginning with the airwaves of WFMU, which has played the lovably daffy, slightly dissonant "Pictures of Ted" (hear it on RealAudio or MP3). The song (released under the band's old name, Stretch) is written in the voice of a guy introducing you to the unseen Ted by going through his photos and explaining each, one by one:

    This is Ted with his childhood friend, the first one that he ever met.
    This is Ted eating a can of Spaghetti-O's in front of the TV set.
     . . . This is Ted with his girlfriend. Don't they look cute together?
    And this is Ted quitting smoking — maybe now he'll live forever.

    Nagler says he wrote the song as a goof, about a guy he sort of knew in college. "He was a friend of mine, but it was sort of ambiguous how well I knew him, so all I have are these sort of snapshots of him," he explains. "The song was kind of a throwaway in my eyes. But about three people including Thom said, 'No, we should really do this.' "

    Another song, "Carol," captures the would-be bravado of the sensitive guy who's always the girl's best friend and never the boyfriend. Addressing Carol's ex, the singer scolds:

    You made Carol cry.
    You made Carol cry.
    And if you can live with that,
    Then I guess you can live with anything.

    It's clearly the kind of sentiment that a mild-mannered, bookstore-working high school kid would express to the school football hero before realizing that the quarterback doesn't care if he made Carol cry. Besides consoling Carol, the singer is obviously consoling himself with the idea that the lucky lout doesn't really understand women the way he does. I'm guessing that the ex never actually hears this speech — it's really intended to make an impression on Carol. It's a wonderfully ambiguous piece of writing, earnest and yet tinged with self-parody.

    You can see the band in occasional gigs, including one this Sunday (April 29) at Maxwell's in Hoboken opening for Mike Doughty. The band will play some of the songs from its forthcoming CD "The Jefferson Fracture," including "Sailor" (hear it here), a hard-driving power-pop number with melodic vocals backed by a busy instrumental arrangement.

    But their biggest project these days is the recently inaugurated "Nova Nights" at the Den of Cin in the basement of Two Boots Pizzeria/Pioneer Theater at Third Street and Avenue A. Every Thursday, Nagler and Soriano bring together an eclectic mix of world musicians, jazz experimentalists, free-verse poets and offbeat songsters for an evening of unpredictability. Artists on the schedule include Brian Dewan, a multi-instrumentalist who plays slide zither with electric fan for the Raymond Scott Orchestrette; WFMU deejays Laura Cantrell and Michael Shelley; and poetry-slam senior citizen Bingo Gazingo.

    This is music to listen hard to. "My first thought was that [at this] venue, when it was background music, it was just kind of a singer-songwriter thing like the Living Room. I wanted to stay away from that," Nagler says. Each performer gets a set, and then there's a chance of a mix-and-match jam at the end, depending on compatibility and preparation.

    The upcoming schedule includes:

    Nova Nights is currently inactive.

    APRIL 24, 2001

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