Sunday, October 03, 2010

Dark National

As I groggily readjust to New York (so I assume, I'm actually posting this way in advance), I bring you a Really Important Group (emphasis intended), the critically acclaimed The National.

This Brooklyn-based quintet plies their craft of smart, dark songs sung by the smart, dark baritone of Matt Beringer, and churns their diverse influences (Wilco, Springsteen, Joy Division) into something darkly unique. Beringer is flanked by two sets of brothers, one of which (Aaron and Bryce Dessner) spearheaded the 'Dark Was The Night' indie charity album in early 2009, which raised over $1m for AIDS research. They all met at University of Cincinatti. Beringer previously spent 5 years in a band named after his Mom (Nancy).

And, now, the group has made the leap from 'much-admired' to 'a terrific listen' with their recently released fifth album, 'High Violet.' Case in point: today's song, 'Conversation 16' is a riveting, compelling tune, darkness and all. The National's debut was described as 'a dozen picture-perfect Americana bar-soaked gems' that 'trod the delicate line between roots-pop and alt-country.' I don't think I'd pigeon-hole them that narrowly, their 'roots' and 'Americana' is filtered through lyrics as intriguing and cryptic as those of REM (with a much stronger, if, well, darker, vocalist...) Final note: the band campaigned for (poor, beleagured) President Obama, with wide use of their song 'Fake Empire.'

Note that 'Conversation 16' is not the lead-off single from 'High Violet'; that honor went to 'Bloodbuzz, Ohio,' and here's that excellent clip:

Now, a quick walk through the group's memorable videos. From 2007's 'Boxer,' 'Mistaken For Strangers...'

Also from 2007, 'Apartment Story...' This clip, filmed in Brooklyn with the band's family and friends, aimed to capture 'the sweet but awkward vibe of a wedding reception or singles mixer'

The group's first video was 2005's very rocking 'Abel'.. 'Abel come on, give me the keys now...'

Also from 2005, a lovely black and white clip for 'Daughters of the Soho Riots'.. I hear one indie fan used this as her wedding song!

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