I consider myself a nostalgic person, but not overly so or is it overly such? Regardless, I thoroughly enjoy music from previous generations & probably even more than most of the music coming out today. I’m that way with a lot of things though, movies, baseball, radio, etc. Not everything is worse now that it was say 20 years ago, however, video games have dramatically improved, basketball & football are so much more exciting & television has climbed to heights many never thought it would with the emergence of edgy cable programming.
One of the things that I most enjoy about today is writing. Today everyone seems to be putting pen to paper or rather computer text to blogs & expressing themselves in ways the world has never seen before. 10 years ago I would never have had the opportunity to write everyday for the world to see my divergent opinions were it not for this utterly fantastic forum. Last week I decided again to break from my nostalgic rut once again & force myself to listen to something at least somewhat current. Actually it’s a couple years old, but I’d heard so much about it, but never listened to it.
From the ever reliable Wikipedia:
The National are a Brooklyn-based indie rock band formed in 1999. The band’s lyrics are written and sung by Matt Berninger in a distinctive, deep baritone. The rest of the band is composed of two pairs of brothers: Aaron and Bryce Dessner and Scott and Bryan Devendorf. Aaron plays guitar, bass and piano, Bryce plays guitar, Scott plays bass and guitar, and Bryan is the drummer. Padma Newsome, from sister band Clogs, often contributes strings, keyboards, and other arrangements and instrumental flourishes.
I decided to listen to what Paste called, “The number 1 album of 2007” & that is Boxer. I will say that at first the aforementioned deep baritone of Matt Berninger threw me off as it sounded so much like Crash Test Dummies lead singer Brad Roberts that I almost couldn’t listen to it without fully expecting “Mmm, Mmm, Mmm” to break out in the middle of “Fake Empire”, but I pushed through & found this album so amazing that much like the Tom Waits album before I kicked myself for having been so close minded as not to listen to it before.
I found it to be very much like Joy Division musically who they list as one of their main influences & lyrically like Bruce Springsteen who was another influence. After a few listens I realized that the vocal style, while something I could not listen to every day fit perfectly with this style. it is so much of a collaborative effort that the vocals do not stand out as much once you are fully integrated into the style. You may say music is always a collaborative effort & to an extent I agree, but not to this level.
In this band it takes every single member to come up with the sound they are attempting to achieve while in bands like The Smiths, Smashing Pumpkins or even Nine Inch Nails those aren’t as prevalent. Especially in the case of NIN who are really just Trent Reznor & session/touring musicians. On Boxer it’s almost like the lyrics are faded down so that the music stands out. My favorite song on the album was “Green Gloves” . it was so beautifully constructed & so pared down that you can hear the sliding down on the acoustic guitar (a sound I adore). Again, this album is a stellar album of grand achievement & I’m so glad that my year is starting off with new music that can guide me towards a more open-minded existence.
Fake Empire – The National
Green Gloves – The National
Start a War – The National
Brainy (Alt. Version) – The National
Santa Clara (Demo) – The National