Just like the baklava that we ate at the Starlite Diner in NYC, long after midnight last Thursday . . . there is enough dense, layered, substantial goodness in this post to stick in your ribs for a while. The National is a band of friends from Ohio who now call Brooklyn home, with four albums to their name since 2001.
As I recently wrote to a friend, there is something so bottomless and untouchably good about their music. They release albums to critical acclaim and rapturous blog praise that is (actually) merited; their music has been called “Gothic,” a descriptor that I completely get — all at once you can see the dark cold-granite shadows, the elegantly arched architecture, and the soaring stained glass in one song.
So much of this is 4am music. It’s the end of a beautiful night, where all your pretenses are stripped. The girls are starting to get that smudge of mascara under their eyes, and the shirts that the guys put on so crisply at 8pm are now wrinkled with a button undone. You’re bleary-tired, but your heart is full. It’s that kind of music, the late-night special, flawed but transcendent.
The lyrics read like stark, eviscerating poems:
Bottle eyes, glassy blue
I watch the rain come out of you
Sky is white with the flu
I’m terrified of losing you
(from Cold Girl Fever)
And I really couldn’t tell you why, but I somewhat tragically missed their recent swing through Denver about a month ago. They have been blowing minds all over the States with their live show, and right now they are in the midst of a massive European tour, followed by Australia.
Here’s what they might do to you.
THE BLACK SESSION
French radio performance 11/17/03
Almost all early material, with a pre-release version of “Lit Up”
All the Wine
Cold Girl Fever
Murder Me Rachael
90-Mile Water Wall
ZIP: BLACK SESSION
THE WHITE SESSION
Same radio station “France Inter” in May 2007, this time sans audience. Almost exclusively material from Boxer.
Start a War
Racing Like a Pro
You’ve Done It Again, Virginia
Mistaken for Strangers
ZIP: WHITE SESSION
[thx Russ and cwb]
*Article in the Village Voice from May –
“The National’s Anthems:
If Springsteen is right, the glory days for Brooklyn’s best rock band may lie just ahead”