Band Appreciation Friday – The National

I have only two emotions, careful fear and dead devotion

Matt Berninger has a voice that transcends upon space and time. His deep baritones turn into passionate cries of love and pain and sorrow, and when combined with intricate guitar riffs or smooth chords, it can sometimes make listening to The National  an out of body experience. I started listening to The National from newest material to oldest, something I really hate to do, but unfortunately happened anyways. I came across their newest album, Trouble Will Find Me, during the summer of last year and I completely fell in love. I fell in love with Matt Berninger’s brooding voice right off the bat, and it was as if it was pulling me in for more.

homepage_large.d48eed63The National is composed of lead singer and frontman Matt Berninger and two sets of brothers: twins Aaron and Bryce Dessner, and brothers Bryan and Scott Devendorf. Their band relationship is tight and amicable, making their performances incredibly special to watch. I am mostly familiar with The National’s last three studio albums, so that is what I will talk about in this post. The National’s fourth album released in 2007, titled Boxer, was a step and a leap from their third, Alligator, and therefore given very positive reviews. While The National’s first three albums were giddy and loose, this one was the start of a brand new image, one of dark imagery and ironic luxury. This was seen in the first track off the album, titled “Fake Empire.” It had some aspects of their earlier sounds, but seemed…different. They were more controlled and focused. The lyrics better, the band more tightly wound together. The rest of Boxer only added to this new found feeling of class and distinction with songs like the almost love tale turned loss “Apartment Story” and the masterpiece “Mistaken for Strangers” – a song that would ultimately be the title of The National’s documentary, due out soon.

 

homepage_large.958a19fdNext came their fifth album, High Violet, which came out in 2010. This album amplified the newer darker image that the band conveyed in Boxer, and therefore contained more melancholic and lyrical songs. Granted, The National was never one to portray the image of sunshine and happiness, so this isn’t really that surprising, but it was still quite different from the days when they were still relatively young and still naive. From the strumming of the guitar in “Sorrow” to the triumphant piano chimes and violin interludes in “England,” High Violet proved to be enticing and well constructed. My favorite from this album would have to be the noire-chic melody “Conversation 16.” This song still remains on my exhaustive list of favorites simply because of the amazing, well written lyrics (Live on coffee and flowers/Try not to worry what the weather will be/I figured out what we’re missing/I tell you miserable things after you are asleep) and simple, uncomplicated musical structure. Matt Berninger’s beautiful voice seems to almost float and hang in the air, and the drum beats and synth seem to move it where it needs to go in the most amazing way. It’s dark and relentless, yet relatable, which is why I love it so much. Overall, High Violet took a new path, one of distinction, and it accurately portrays the National as a highly poetic band that was just starting to get settled in.

homepage_large.91787d75Finally, The National introduced their newest album, Trouble Will Find Me, in 2013. This is the one National album I know the best by far, and the album that changed me. I was completely sold when I heard the poetic, mesmerizing compostion “Don’t Swallow the Cap,” in which I can hear every gorgeous falter and meticulous tone in Matt Berninger’s voice. Not only that, but this song contains my most favorite lines of lyrics of any National song. When I heard the words “I have only two emotions, careful fear and dead devotion” come out of his mouth, something went through me that I can’t explain. This is the most accurate description of my (and I guess his) personality that I had ever seen and it chilled me to the bone in the best possible way. I bought the album right away and it’s definitely one of the best purchases that I have ever made. It contains gems like “Fireproof” and “Graceless,” both of which are genius. When it comes to deep, dark love songs, look no further than “I Need My Girl,” a song propelled by intricate guitar riffs and graceful lyrics that no doubt are personal and heartfelt. “Pink Rabbits” gives a new aspect to the bunch, and it can be described as a jazzy, yet refined melody. Trouble Will Find Me is absolutely brilliant in dealing with the inevitability of dread and regret, and it definitely deserved all the praise it received.

The National will always have a special place in my heart as being one of the most real, relatable bands out there. They create music that makes you think and feel real things, and they exude this brilliant attitude while doing so. I can’t wait to see what they do next.

 

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Weezer – “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To”

Weezer-IfYoureWondering-CoverAw yeah. It’s Friday. That means happy music all around. Weezer can be either serious or goofy, and this is one song where they’re incredibly lighthearted and fun. This song is perfect to jam out to at the end of the day when you’ve finished everything on your To-Do list (and if you haven’t finished anything at all, it’s cool, listen to this anyways!). “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To” is from Weezer’s seventh album, Raditude.

 

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Among Savages – “Start at the Beginning”

full_coverThe deep violin interludes that open this song are breathtakingly beautiful and 24 year old Nashville artist Peter Barbee’s sweet and soft voice is mesmerizing to the ears. “Start at the Beginning” is from Among Savages’ debut album Wanderings of an Illustrative Mind (2011), a compilation of compositions inspired by Barbee’s youth. This song is the perfect mixture of tension and passion, as well as the other songs on this delicately crafted album.

 

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The Lighthouse and the Whaler – “We’ve Got the Most” (Song of the Week 2/27/2014)

tiaaOn days like this, where I have a million things to do and nothing seems constant, I know I can always rely on music to stay loyal and undeviating. Listening to these songs somehow makes everything okay in these instances, even if you happen to be upset or frustrated or angry. Today, I’m really missing my friends back home. Well, they’re not really “back home” in the general sense. They’re off in colleges different from mine and they’re experiencing new and amazing things, as should I, but it’s hard sometimes to let go of some things, as I’m sure they can attest to. Lately I’ve been feeling more disconnected with them than usual, and again, that leads me back to the music. This song by The Lighthouse and the Whaler, one of my favorite indie folk/pop bands, is a song that always reminds me of my friends and all the amazing times we have had the past few years before we all went our separate ways. “We’ve Got the Most” is a choral, melancholic masterpiece intertwined with radiating drum beats and symphonic violins. The lyrics are sweet and sincere (and it’s been so long/ since we’ve been this far) in the beginning and Michael LoPresti’s voice vibrates and erupts in the most beautiful, colorful chord that I had ever heard. It was as if the answer to the universe was suddenly found in that chord and it hung in the air even after he had closed his lips and took a breath to sing the next note. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I still love it so much. You know, I might even have to do a band appreciation Friday on these guys because they hold a special place in my heart, so we will see (I have a long list of bands near and dear to me to write about, so I’m going to be pretty busy). I first heard of The Lighthouse and the Whaler one day when I was bored in class and started to venture deep into the world of indie music on youtube. I stumbled along this song because I loved the band name, and the rest is history. I bought the album this is from a few weeks later, This is an Adventure, which came out in 2012 (wow, I can’t believe it’s been that long), an album that has song after amazing song. This song of the week post is dedicated to my friends (hopefully they will read this). Miss you guys!

 

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Rhodes – “Run”

5055489289359_1.170x170-75Rhodes is a 24 year old singer/songwriter from Hertfordshire, England. His voice is a smooth caress, which nicely collaborates with the melancholic guitar plucks in this amazing, powerful song, “Run.” His debut EP, Raise Your Love, came out last year. He has since then supported the likes of and sometimes toured with London Grammar and Vance Joy and has performed for Burberry a few times. He is still just starting out, but if he keeps releasing beautiful songs like this, he will have no problem finding success.

 

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Grouplove – “Colours”

Grouplove - Never trust a happy songI have a strange obsession with this song. It just seems different from Grouplove’s other, more structured songs. “Colours” tends to go with the flow a bit more and takes it’s own path. Christian Zucconi’s unique voice squeaks and cracks in beautiful ways, while second vocalist Hannah Hooper chimes in with her own distinct harmony that so wonderfully meshes together with his (they are engaged to be married, anyways). The song is mellow and more “talky” than actual singing in the beginning, then erupts into a rebellious wall of sound that continues on to the end of the song. Grouplove is a funny band to me. I made the discovery the other day that each member looks as if they each got separated from their actual bands and decided to form one until they could find them again (I only say this because they all have their own distinct style and it’s really cool). Nevertheless,they all still work together very nicely. I enjoy Grouplove’s music, but in small doses because of how intense it can be sometimes. I saw them in concert last year and they are just as crazy as they appear to be, and it is awesome. “Colours” is from their debut album, Never Trust a Happy Song, which came out in 2011.

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John Legend – “Made to Love”

vibe-john-legend-love-in-the-futureOh man, this song. It’s mesmerizing. It makes you think and want to sit on the edge of your seat, yet it also somehow relaxes you. The intoxicating drum beats vibrate throughout your entire being and to top it all off, John Legend’s voice is pure silk. His deep voice croons and sways and twists into spirals that turn this song from a desperate plea for love to a genius ballad. Of course, that’s not at all surprising. It is John Legend after all. He’s known for beautifully over the top, overtly romantic songs that are so obviously crafted with such tender care and love (take “Everybody Knows” or “All of Me,” for instance). His new album, Love in the Future, came out last year.

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Young Man – “Fate”

imagesColin Caufield of Young Man has a melodic voice that is perfectly capable of being intertwined with spellbinding guitar riffs. In this track titled “Fate,” both of these aspects are seen. The lyrics are delicately yet strongly written; Caulfield sings that “fate is not what you choose,” that fate propels you no matter what kind of decisions you choose to make. He is focused and passionate; you can clearly see it in his eyes during this beautifully colorful music video. Young Man has been playing for a long time know (their debut album, Ideas of Distance came out in 2011), and I’m sad I had never heard of them until now. His music has indie folk as well as indie pop inspired melodies, and his sound, while I don’t really like to compare artists to each other (it doesn’t seem fair to), is as if Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend and Ed Droste from Grizzly Bear took the best parts of their voice and appearance and combined them to form Colin Caufield. That’s what I think, anyways. I have yet to listen to his other songs, but for now, I’ll enjoy this celestial masterpiece from his album Vol. I, which came out this last year.

 

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MØ – “Waste of Time” (Song of the Week 2/25/2014)

moI first heard MØ sometime last year and I was simply entranced by the beat of this song. MØ, also known as Karen Marie Ørsted, is just so different from all the other female musicians these days; she is simply classy and refined in terms of her outward appearance, personality, and most importantly, her music. While she does not have an album out yet (Mythologies to Follow will be out March 10 of this year), she has stunned listeners with singles like “Maiden,” “Pilgrim,” and this amazing song, “Waste of Time.” She has been compared to other electronic pop artists such as Grimes and Twin Shadow, which makes complete sense to me. Her lyrics are amazingly written and her vocal range is outstanding. She sings with such strength and an almost metallic consistency that transcends above other upcoming electronic artists and therefore establishes her stance among them. She has control over her unique sound and stays true to herself, which is really important if you want to be successful as a musician. She seems like such an awesome person to know and I’m glad I found this song. I never get tired of singing it (where is the love we had/love we had/ where is the love we had ooooOo/what a waste of time), which is why it is today’s song of the week. I know that MØ will be successful in 2014.

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