A lengthy but ultimately extremely interesting article/profile from this weekend’s NY Times about the band, their history and their upcoming, highly anticipated album High Violet.
It was supposed to be the National’s moment. After years of mostly anonymous struggle, the National’s two previous albums, “Alligator” (2005) and “Boxer” (2007), were so full of strangely isolated songs about friendship, romance and work that they had created for this new release the sort of expectant critical murmur that has been rare to hear since the end of the age of record shops. “Alligator” and “Boxer” did what excellent rock ’n’ roll albums did in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s: transcended the sum of their singles to offer something larger. In the National’s case, it was a powerful, probing feeling for the inner lives of average people out in the American heartland. So good was the music that with it came the promise of what might follow, the heady potential that the National would soon take things one step further, go ahead and make the great Middle American novel as music, an album for our time. But now, they seemed intent on holding all that off as long as possible.
I also found this really interesting:
..but [lead singer] Matt can neither read notation nor play an instrument. His musical predilections generally run more along the lines of “a heavy metal thing,” which he would later, in a band debate regarding the song “Bloodbuzz, Ohio,” also shorthand as “some hot Jimmy Page scuzz,” and the twins would dismiss as “Berninger black-fantasy guitar.”
As well as musician Steve Reich’s analysis of their music:
Reich says the National combines “a classic rock ’n’ roll sound using repeated bass lines and pulses that have cropped up more recently. They’re the latest incarnation of a classic rock ’n’ roll band.” Speaking of “Sorrow” and “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks,” another cut Reich likes on the new album, he said: “A major is their gold key. The melody note will be repeated but the bass and harmony will change. You’ll find it all over my music, a lot in the ‘Mother Goose’ of Ravel, and as far back as Bach. It works very well.”
You can also listen to the whole album streaming in high quality from the article, which is how the band would prefer you to hear it, as opposed to the lo-fi rip floating around on the internet.
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