Tag: The National
Walking into the Fillmore Auditorium for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised at the elegant and spacious interior of the venue that is in stark contrast to its modest exterior. My awe at the sheer size and sophistication of the Fillmore was the first of many that would come in what can only be described as a superb night of music.
Opening the night was the Austin, Texas based group Brazos. Full of sweeping lyrics, upbeat rhythms, and at times, African sounding drums and maracas, the group entertained the audience throughout its whole set list of original sounding tunes.
After a grueling 45 minute sound check, The National finally took the stage to the erupting applause of the packed auditorium. Led by vocalist Matt Berninger, who is a natural baritone, the music produced by The National was refreshing to say the least. With the band accompanied by a duet brass section composed of a trumpet and a trombone, each song was musically stuffed with sounds that put the recorded music to shame. The fan following of The National was incredibly apparent by the sound of a thousand voices singing along to every song, with “Mr. November” being the climax of the night. The set list was nearly perfect and concluded with a profound acoustic, unplugged version of “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks” with much audience participation. The night was summed up for me in the words of an exiting fan: “just a brilliant show.”
I have often expressed my appreciation for music-session-blog Daytrotter. They’ve done what I could only imagine doing: recording the best up-and-coming artists from a wide swath of the modern independent music using old-fashioned full-band recording techniques.
Yesterday’s session features 6 songs (available for free download, just click on the photo above) from former Hot Water Music singer Chuck Ragan. Earlier this summer we had the chance to see Chuck open for Lucero at the Bluebird, and as I remember Chuck gave one of the most intense folk performances I’ve ever seen.
I thought I’d also take the time to share some of my other favorite Daytrotter sessions here too. Click on the images to go the respective sessions.
1. Feist – The Reminder: Leslie Feist’s laid back vocals and dance-beat driven folk style gained notoriety in ’07 through several outlets. A mixture of classic sounds and catchy melodies boosted Feist’s album to the top of the list. Her unique style set her apart during an excellent year for music. Listen to “So Sorry” and “My Moon My Man.”
2. Rilo Kiley – Under The Blacklight: Two words: Jenny Lewis. The album is a great mix of dance and harmony. The rest of the band deserves equally as much praise for their effort to redesign their sound. Highlights of this album are “Under The Blacklight” and “Dreamworld.”
3. The National – Boxer: Deep, smooth, and haunting, Boxer beckons back to simple instrumentation and thought provoking lyrics, aspects of music that are often overlooked today. The album has a distinctly dark tone, tempered with sometimes cheery guitar parts. Suggested tracks: “Fake Empire” and “Ada.”
4. Radiohead – In Rainbows: Even though Radiohead’s seventh album is distinctly modern, it depends heavily on songs written during the last 10 years. This record was innovative in both delivery method and sound. “15 Step” and “Nude” are the most enjoyable tracks.
5. Bright Eyes – Cassadaga: 2007 saw a number of concept albums, and Cassadaga was one of the best. Conor Oberst’s melancholy lyrics work well with the classic folk-country sounds heard on the album. “Make A Plan To Love Me” and “Coat Check Dream Song” stretch the boundaries of the genre.
6. Against Me! – New Wave: By far the best punk album heard in recent years. A combination of politically charged lyrics and guitar driven anthems earned Against Me! a place in the top ten. Tracks “Stop” and “Thrash Unreal” should energize any situation.
7. Once Soundtrack: Simply put, independent films this past year had excellent soundtracks. “Falling Slowly” and “When Your Mind’s Made Up” are simply beautiful.
8. Band of Horses – Cease To Begin: Catchy lyrics, ambient guitar sounds and just the right amount of reverb make this album an interesting listen. The opening two tracks “Is There A Ghost?” and “Ode To LRC” are an excellent introduction to the disc.
9. Minus The Bear – Planet of Ice: Seattle is no longer a grunge town, the experimental scene has taken over and this disc shows why. The classic Minus The Bear sound can be heard on “Knights” and Dr. L’ling.”
10. Thrice – The Alchemy Index Vol. I & II: An interesting experiment in hardcore music: explore the original four elements through song. Volumes I & II cover fire and water incredibly well. “The Arsonist” and “Digital Sea” offer a unique comparison.
TOP 25 Albums
1. Feist – The Reminder
2. Rilo Kiley – Under The Blacklight
3. The National – Boxer
4. Radiohead – In Rainbows
5. Bright Eyes – Cassadaga
6. Against Me! – New Wave
7. Once Soundtrack
8. Band Of Horses – Cease To Begin
9. Minus The Bear – Planet of Ice
10. Thrice – The Alchemy Index Vol. I & II
11. The Shins – Wincing The Night Away
12. Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
13. The Snake The Cross The Crown – Cotton Teeth
14. Circa Survive – On Letting Go
15. The Frames – The Cost
16. Motion City Soundtrack – Even If It Kills Me
17. Kanye West – Graduation
18. Interpol – Our Love To Admire
19. I’m Not There Soundtrack
20. Anberlin – Cities
21. Eisley – Combinations
22. Modest Mouse – We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank
23. Iron & Wine – The Shepherd’s Dog
24. Wilco – Sky Blue Sky
25. John Ralston – Sorry Vampire
The National, formed formed by a group of friends from Cincinnati in 1999, have released three albums, featuring morose lyrics and soft, subtle melodies. Their most recently released album, Boxer, is no different, providing a melodious landscape which incorporates both Indie-rock guitar riffs and near-Baroque string sections, which are common in the latter half of the album.
The driving force of Boxer is the deep baritone of lead singer Matt Berninger, coupled with a forceful rhythm ruminating from the drum set. Berninger’s lyrics tend to be initially obtuse but turn poignantly poetic – even dark and looming at points – over time, tying in perfectly with the mellow feel of the songs.
The National, which garnered slight attention with its 2005 release Alligator, has created in Boxer an ambient description of the loneliness prescribed by an empty street corner in a major metropolis. However, the juxtaposition of placid guitar riffs and the almost violent drumming creates enough tension to prevent the album from simply being background noise.
Boxer provides a gripping take on a subtle sound – ominous dread looms in the lyrics, while mellifluous melodies soar high above and create an album which is certainly worth considering.