Getting lost in music is one of my favorite things to do.
Whenever I want to step back/away/out from my surroundings and into my own head space, I find the need for sounds to overwhelm and envelop me. But this can be challenging when much of our contemporary music is driven by lyrics or three minute hooks and loops geared to arrest and capture our attention. Thus, I am always in search of soundscapes and compositions that serve as templates for flow and disconnection (in the positive sense). Over the past couple of weeks, these two albums from coincidentally San Francisco based* Tycho and Blackbird Blackbird have been part of the soundtracks to mental excursions. Built around layers and layers of electronic rhythms that intersperse subdued stretches of tranquility and upbeat percussive strains they supply sufficient parts ambient background and electronic groove for any project that requires one to close out the world.
* I guess folks on the West Coast know how to slow it down.
If you are curious what other records I listen to for zoning out or in, I always have more to offer.
For some time I’ve been searching to fill the void that LCD Soundsystem’s “retirement” left in my musical heart. You know that infectious, unbridled nerdy dance music that drives a body to the dance floor? Well I’ve finally found an antidote for my longing!
Tough Love the debut record by Party Supplies (a fitting name) brings the unfettered, uncomplicated energetic joy James Murphy mastered through his transition from DJ to producer to music maker, fusing early 90s pounding dance rhythms with the 80s synth and New Wave/Pop sensibilities (think also Hot Chip). Following the pattern of foregrounding the beats while muddying and retreating the vocals on the mix, this record is all kinds of guilty and frivolous pleasures, which is good because we all need a reason to escape and let go.
The opening track “New York 2017”* is the “jam” I’ve been furiously searching for all year/summer that has the dynamic variation and euphoric dance pop relief that has been sorely lacking from the “heavy hitters”. Sure there are plenty of phenomenal electro-pop bands at work (See Chvrches, their brilliant full length will be the subject of a forthcoming post) but this track has everything to either start or finish a memorable night. It feels like a late night/early morning rooftop track with a perfectly paced rhythm fit for any mood that inspires movement and chill ambulations. You don’t need to have killer dance moves to groove to this or any track on this album; all you need to do is understand and appreciate the joy of celebrating the immediacy and fleeting joy of the present. It’s the energy that passes through “All My Friends” (a watershed/climatic moment in the infusion/infiltration of electro/dance into indie/rock) inspiring youth to burn the night away like firecrackers in the sky.**
Listen and groove to Party Supplies’ Tough Love
* A definite top track of 2013! Other stellar tracks include “Love Song” and “Going Back to New York” both of which take me back to late night sweaty dance clubs on the East and Third Coast when DJs actually DJed and dance music wasn’t so predictable.
**this album may engender smiles and smirks . . . enjoy without recriminations and don’t question.
Love the dirty projectors Bitte Orca?
Love Matt Berninger of the National’s deep introspective vocal style?
Dig compositions that are slightly more complicated and not always pop precise somewhere in the curious fusion of St. Vincent and free form jazzy pop?
Take the above, add angelic melodies* (DP likes to go atonal on occasion) with some TLC style R&B rhythms at times (see “Sonsick“; easily a top track of 2013) blend in some lush, layered baroque orchestration (see “Bar“), soft melancholic melodies, furious bizarro chamber style experimentation (see “At Night, True Love“) as well and well you have one of the most stunning and totally mesmerizing listens
This is a collection of songs and musical motifs by an immensely talented composer with the help of equally brilliant friends. Easily one of the years best, most complex, and rewarding records.
Check out San Fermin – San Fermin now!
Goodbyes are never easy, which is why I avoid them at all costs. I have always preferred whenever parting ways for an extended period of time to say, “See you later”. It creates an obligation to return. On occasion, though things do come to an end, like a band’s time together. Whether they are big messy break ups (i.e., every Fleetwood Mac break up) or subtle, quiet retirements (i.e., R.E.M.), a period of musical mourning and reminiscing ensues. However, the best part of these endings is they rarely are an end, full-stop. We will always have the music and the memories. (Usually there aren’t too many awkward memories or angst associated with them like relationships. And, this is why I’ve decided that music is my ideal life partner.)
The past week I’ve been consumed by two records that are bookends to two different, yet not totally disparate careers. On the surface, Rilo Kiley and The Civil Wars share little similarities other than they’ve released records in 2013 that either are their or could be their “last”; the former confirmed, the latter speculation. Yet, upon closer inspection they share some commonalities. Both groups were composed of essentially a pair of strong songwriters of the opposite sex and, yet, it was often the female vocalist who took center stage in the public sphere and image of the band. For Rilo Kiley, this probably has a lot to do with the fact that Jenny Lewis sang most of the songs and had a rather illustrious childhood acting career (e.g. The Wizard and Troop Beverly Hills) that was part of many of our childhoods. Oh yeah and she has a stunning voice that shifts from girl next door cute to angst-y rebel yell to blue-eyed Memphis soul. With a range like that, what’s not love? In the case of The Civil Wars, Joy Williams didn’t necessarily dig into the punk aesthetic but she certainly saunters through earthy Blues, gritty Country and angelic Gospel with the greatest of ease. Another interesting thing of note, neither band emerged from the coasts (even though having connections to them) but rather from the sleepy center of the country. Okay, Nashville isn’t so sleepy but before Conor Oberst and Saddle Creek Records, you wouldn’t think Omaha was a place for bands to “make it.”
Rilo Kiley will always be rooted in my college days. They will always remind me of hope and whimsy, of long road trips, shedding youthful, adolescent ways, making difficult life decisions, and then dancing with abandon all at once. As a good friend recently said, whenever I hear Jenny’s voice I’m taken back to Providence (our shared collegiate home). On rkives, a collection of b-sides, outtakes, demos, and songs left off (the tracks), you hear their entire career packed into one neat little window of what was and what wasn’t. Starting with the gentle strum of “Let Me Back In”, which beautiful juxtaposes Jenny’s dreamy vocals against what sounds like an island-like ukulele, rkives crafts together the world out of time mixed with raucous energetic indie rock quirkiness that made Rilo Kiley our college sweethearts. How songs like “Runnin’ Around” and “Emotional” didn’t make it on to previous albums is beyond me because they are the sort of tracks that seemed perfectly RK. But perhaps this is a testament to what an excellent spell of songwriting these guys had from Execution of All Things through More Adventurous. The tracks I can’t stop replaying though are the playful “I Remember You” and the comical closer “The Frug.” On the former, Jenny shows why she might be the best at filling a duet with the requisite tension and passion; she certainly illustrated that excellently on stage across from Ben Gibbard during their rendition of “Nothing Better” on the Postal Service’s recent tour (#swoon). And, how can you ask for a better closer to the trip down memory lane then a quirky and comical song about dancing as metaphor for the inability to commit? Just remember, Jenny can do the Robo-Cop but she cannot do the Smurf.
Take on last trip with Rilo Kiley on rkives.
The Civil Wars entered the scene a couple of years ago; with songs overflowing in bittersweet passion and pristine melodies. They captured the hearts and ears of those who relish fine craftsmanship and Americana Roots “Rock’ (a blend of country, bluegrass, blues, and blue-eyed soul). Building off the tension filled duets between Joy Williams and John Paul White, you wanted to believe these two were lovers acting out their life drama through these songs; only this could make them even more powerful. Well, they aren’t partners other than in song and writing and perhaps not any more. The current news is that the band is on indefinite hiatus. On the track’s first single and opening track, “The One That Got Away”, there is a bigger, fuller and more rock almost, anthemic sound, which makes you wonder where could they go if the road continued. (It recalls to the opening of REM’s Automatic for the People, “Drive”, an under appreciated track from the finest arc of the band’s career.) As befits their name, the record is filled with songs of distance and discord as theme not necessarily biography. Yet a midst all the emotional chaos there is always the return to these perfect harmonies that fill you with a feeling of hope and possibility. Listen to the ebb and flow of “Eavesdrop”, which relishes in the tumult. However, the heart and center of this record for me is “Dust to Dust”, the most sparse and simple track. It showcases John Paul and Joy’s gorgeous back-and-forth vocals along with the love-letter like quality of their songwriting. But there is another layer… There is this ghostly quality to John Paul’s voice as though he is not there and Joy’s earthly vocals feel like a life longing for something that will never again come or be. If this is the last act, it is a thing of utter beauty.
Sojourn and swoon with The Civil Wars.
see you later,
* all mistakes, grammatical or otherwise, are purely intentional except when they are not.
… it’s the freakin’ weekend baby, ‘m ’bout to have me some fun. -r.kelly
Yeah, it’s that time of year again. Pitchfork’s showcase of young emerging artists blended with a nod to indie stalwarts and heroes of yesteryear. Maybe more so than any year, the 2013 Pitchfork Festival illustrates the increased diversification and expansion of the indie online-periodical’s musical breadth. Is this a good thing? There are those who might claim Pitchfork has reached into realms outside its “proper reach” or beyond the quirky, fan-boy zealotry for weirdo and curio bands, but I don’t know if I agree. Music has right to all its children and over time tastes and predilections change. But enough of that stuff, we can discuss this on the grass at Union Park. In the meantime, some rather serious business is at hand. Who should you go see at the Festival? I’ll admit my unabashed school-boy enthusiasm to see Bjork for the first time after 20 years of hearing her on headphones. Also, I can;t wait to see Stuart and co., aka Belle & Sebastian (or as my friend PG once dubbed them the Buena Vista Scottish Club) dance mirthfully dancing around on stage with that 60s baroque pop charm of theirs. Or the grizzled vets like The Breeders (last time I saw them was in 1993!), Yo La Tengo, or Low, all of whom have made music for some time (ok Kim Deal and co. took some time off). But, those guys you know….
What about the rest of the field? I’ve got some suggestions (Don’t I always?). Also for more details go to http://pitchforkmusicfestival.com/
Well, here are the 10 bands that I’m most eager to see:
Read below or listen along here: Pitchkfork 2013 Primer: A Playlist*
*(I recommend playing on shuffle)
Waxahatchee (Sunday 3:45 – Blue) – Katie Crutchfield’s work as Waxahatchee is a rare thing. At one moment, it delivers a crushing blow to the gut with its lyrical sincerity and then evokes a euphoric impassioned angst the next minute. In 2013, Katie (an Alabama native) has given us Cerulean Salt, my favorite 2013 record to date, a record that alternates between muzzled pop harmonies and raw-lo-fi punk-y folk/roots rock. To the former, layer in Katie Crutchfield’s piercing and pleasing vocals and you have the perfect roller coaster ride of emotions to get you rolling around.
Angel Olsen (Friday 5:15 – Blue) – One of the most beautiful and captivating singers and songwriters I’ve heard in a long time. I caught her sold out set at the Hideout (a small intimate corner of the world) in February and it was spellbinding. Her sound is rooted in a/n America/na that is magical, otherworldly, and, at times, brutal and sad, yet authentic and redeeming, leaving you wanting more.
Solange (Saturday 7:25 – Red) – Beyonce’s little sister certainly has the soul and voice to wow like her sister but she tends towards the slower grooves with a decidedly late 80s/early 90s pop R&B vibe. Grab a girl or a boy and head over for a chill dance party break for the evening. . .
Savages (Saturday 4:15 – Green) –These English proto/post-punk rockers are loud, fast, and aggressive combing a little of the dark, relentless drone of Joy Division with the dance-like sensibility of Gang of Four but fronted by a Patti Smith sounding lead singer. From all accounts they put on one of the best live shows. I can’t wait! Note: Bring earplugs and avoid the front (some slam-dancing likely)
Foxygen (Sunday 1:45 – Red) – The duo known as Foxygen come from another time or perhaps a world where time doesn’t exist because their music is rooted in a surreal past blending psychedelia and blues in such a pleasing way you wonder if you are dreaming. Having seen them perform at Lincoln Hall earlier this year, I can tell you these gents are talented and brilliant live when they are on. About half way through their set that night something was off and watching them deal with imperfection was a sight to behold. For the flower-power kids this is your chance to spin and whirl like dervishes. Drop in and tune out, man.
Autre Ne Veut (Sunday 1:55 – Blue) – Another opportunity for grooving to some pleasant pop R&B. Don’t worry. You don’t need to get too low, move too fast, or juke for this kind of music. It’s more of the close your eyes and just let Autre Ne Veut’s Prince-like falsetto serenade you and guide you through the early afternoon.
Julia Holter (Saturday 1:55 – Blue) – What does walking into a dream feel like? For me the music of LA based experimental pop artist Julia Holter is just that. Gorgeous gossamer layers of baroque pop juxtaposed with sparse classical-like compositions will get you floating into. . .
Chairlift (Sunday 5:45 – Blue) – Many people complain about 80s synth-based dance music. I don’t understand what is wrong with them. Perhaps they just dislike fun. Chairlift’s sound is ecstatic, energetic, emotional, and ebullient, bursting through 808s or moogs, entreating you to let go and dance with abandon. How can you resist?
Phosphorescent (Saturday 2:30 – Green) – Nestled somewhere between the languid and expansive rock of Joshua Tree era U2 and the southwestern flair of Calexico, Alabama native (that is two if you are counting at home) Matthew Houck’s music is reverie inducing and the perfect way to let the week and the world melt away.
Andy Stott (Saturday 7:45 – Blue) –Downtempo electronic music is still somewhat under-appreciated in the U.S. People are never quite sure what to do with or how to move to it; at times it has a film soundtrack quality and at other times it seems almost sleep-inducing. Watching English DJ Andy Stott spin could help ameliorate this problem. His work is layered with pregnant beats and an unrelenting bass groove that keeps one constantly at attention. By evening’s end you’ll likely find your shoulders and hips shaking. (Stream here on YouTube)
…and yes there is so, so much more and very talented artists I’ve missed, but that is what I’d recommend and will be prioritizing. However if you want to see my full dance card day by day (which always makes me think of Godspell #musicaltheatregeek) see below. Note: Bold denotes my can’t miss; Italics are also recommended.
3:20 Frankie Rose (BLUE) (Dream Pop)
4:35 Mac DeMarco (GREEN) (Folk Rock)
5:15 Angel Olsen (BLUE) (Americana Folk)
5:30 Woods (RED) (Neo Folk/Surf Rock)
6:15 Mikal Cronin (BLUE) (Pop/Surf Rock)
8:30 Björk (GREEN) (Sui Generis)
1:55 Julia Holter (BLUE) (Dream Pop)
2:30 Phosphorescent (GREEN) (Neo Folk)
2:50 Parquet Courts (BLUE) (Punk)
3:20 …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead (RED) (Rock)
4:15 Savages (GREEN) (Post Punk)
6:15 The Breeders play Last Splash (GREEN) (Baroque Pop)
6:45 Low (BLUE) (Baroque Indie Rock)
7:25 Solange (RED) (Pop R&B)
7:45 Andy Stott (BLUE) (Downtempo/Electornic)
8:30 Belle & Sebastian (GREEN) (Baroque Pop)
1:00 DJ Rashad (BLUE)(Hip Hop)
1:45 Foxygen (RED) (Psychedelic)
1:55 Autre Ne Veut (BLUE) (R&B)
2:50 Blood Orange (BLUE) (R&B)
3:45 Waxahatchee (BLUE) (Folk/Punk/Lo-Fi Rock)
4:15 Yo La Tengo (GREEN) (Baroque Indie)
4:45 Sky Ferreira (BLUE)(Pop)
5:45 Chairlift (BLUE)(Indie/Baroque Pop)
7:25 M.I.A. (RED)(Hip Hop/R&B)
8:30 R. Kelly (GREEN) (Hip Hop/R&B)
…if you ever catch me discussing my unrepentant love of dance music, starting with Madonna or Erasure in my youth and carrying through to Robyn and, yes, Lady Gaga, you’ll also hear me decry the sad and uninteresting state of “American” dance music, or the overwhelming volume of uninspired sounds emanating from most dance clubs around the country. Partially, I blame the lack of creative and enthusiastic DJs, but placing the blame on them is a bit unfair. They play the music that the audience and management want to hear — tepid and mechanistic approximations of rhythm and movement. The general schema consists of a series of drone-like pouncing beats with very little variation and the predictable explosion. Personally, I enjoy a tempo shift or two, a little bass drop, less computer driven percussion, and a hint of playfulness. I figured Daft Punk would deliver this. But, I was disappointed. “Get Lucky” might be the jam of the summer for many but to me it is thoroughly uninteresting (especially given the influence of this band). But, I also think Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” is even more yawn inducing. Feel free to cast aspersions.
But, let me offer some brilliant and engrossing alternatives. Although I’ll dance to almost anything with a good beat (to quote Deee-Lite), these three albums have made my feet move and should be appearing on dance floor near you or perhaps at your next party. (As always click on the link to listen.)
(And for the record, I won’t go into an extended discussion because I’ve mentioned them before but Tegan and Sara, Chvrches, and Haim should definitely be in the summer dance mix, if not already.) (As always click on the link to listen.)
Amusingly enough in the year when Daft Punk returns to the scene of the crime, it is LA-based Classixx that is making the best Daft Punk-like records. Ebullient, life-affirming, floor pounding, late 90s Baleric Islands-sounding dance groves. A perfect way to get the party started or keep it going through the night. “Holding On” and “A Stranger in Love” are two of the standout tracks; think somewhere between the dreamy dance pop of Saint Etienne and the disco infused grooves of Paul Oakenfeld.
Look dance music isn’t about changing the world, but lighting up the night with unfettered mirth. If anyone understands this concept, it is the British Goth/punk/dance vixen Charlie XCX who straddles the line between a younger Lady Gaga and a post-No Doubt Gwen Stefani. With a great ear for samples (see Gold Panda “You” sample on “You – Ha ha ha” and for perfect back-and-forth all-night dance anthem a la kesha’s “die young” on “take my hand”, Charli displays a careful blend of quirky prankster and master of dance ceremonies. For me “Grins” is the track of note with it’s M.I.A.-like speak singing flourish. (Also, in case you didn’t recognize her voice, she makes an appearance on Ikona Pop’s “I Love It” and if you are curious check out her website (http://www.charlixcxmusic.com/category/music/) as she has a lot of streaming and free music for your listening pleasure.)
Before this record was even released, it was popping up on countless “best of so far” lists. Why all the hype? Although only 18 or 19 years old according to some accounts, Disclosure’s Settle sounds like a missive from the early days of underground house and dance music. Then again, these boys are English where dance music is an art form not a social lubricant for disappearance. Their music is entrancing and hip shaking without being over-the-top or hit-you-over-the-head inane club music. Whether it’s the Prodigy/trip-hop reminiscent “When a Fire Starts to Burn” or the R&B-infused “You & Me”, these tracks will keep you sweating day and night. (Also, check out this single from last year: Disclosure – “Control“.)
see you on the other side of midnight,
Not every recording artist has a Columbia-funded PR campaign (ahem… daft punk) or appearances on national TV to promote their new material (yeah, JT), so it’s possible that you might have missed some beautiful and engrossing records. Each merits more words than I will give them but on this week of catching up I thought I’d go for quantity (of music) over quality (of words… and this is always subject to debate).
Former Red House Painters lead singer/songwriter and current mastermind behind Sun Kil Moon has been making gorgeous and heart-wrenching music with stream-of-consciousness narratives for almost two decades. Yet, his music and name are not as household friendly as they should be. (But let’s be honest this list of unappreciated artists is rather extensive in my mind.) Perils of the Sea is a collaboration with fellow musician Jimmy LaValle and the marriage of Mark’s rambling and knife-in-chest narratives filled with mundane epiphanies and daily tragedies with the sinewy sparseness and whimsical lullaby nature of La Valle’s minimalist electronic compositions is about as near perfect as they come, if you like music with emotional effect and thought generating content. In a curious, way the album reminds me a great deal of The Postal Service’s Give Up (can’t believe it’s been a decade since this was released) with its well-manicured, yet stripped down electronic melodies juxtaposed against unchecked, from-the-gut, heart-on-sleeve confessions, recriminations, and flights of fancy; the only difference, Mark & Jimmy are a little more dour and less poppy than Ben & Jimmy. But, sometimes somber reflections are a necessary break for some much needed perspective.
Pay note in particular to Kozelek’s lyrics in “1936″, “Gustavo”, “You Missed My Heart”, and “Caroline”. #bone-chilling
Certain musicians are masters of words and rhythms; others conjure feeling, emotions, and memories with the most intricate yet subtlest of sounds. On their debut LP, the English trio explores the latter, exuding a relaxing chill vibe that elicits visions of dreamy escapades and sea-side visions. Nestled somewhere between 90s R&B and dream/indie pop, Seabed is all about tuning in and turning down; a record of experience and evocation rather than declaration and statement. It can by your Sunday rest or your aural night cap, whatever you decide it will bring you peace of mind and slow down the restless mind. The closest contemporary analog is the Swedish haze & daze masters jj with little hints of the 90s R&B hippies, PM Dawn, and Parachutes-era Coldplay. Take it for a spin by clicking above.
or take a little dreamy excursion below
….more to follow including a little retro-downtempo brilliance, emo-instrumental revival, and a wandering songwriter.
One of the best things about being sick when I was a young child was getting to watch the local access television’s morning lineup. Years before Nick at Nite or TVLand, I would get myself wrapped in a blanket with some chicken soup and 7UP and get ready for Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, and My Favorite Martian. All had a whimsical a temporal almost surreal charm. Listening to the newest project from Katy Goodman of La Sera/Vivian Girls fame, Books of Love, I find myself transported back to those romanticized, halcyon days of Hollywood Land both in feel and look. Watch the gorgeously grain-y trompe across L.A. looking for a certain curios character. It’s a splash of sunshine and frivolity.
Now pass me the remote control, I think there’s a Bewitched marathon about to start!!!
everything I love is on the table, everything I love is out to sea. I’m not alone, I’ll never be…
If there is one constant in the work of the Brooklyn-based, Ohio-bred quintet The National, it is the pervading pallor of darkness that ostensibly shrouds their work. Try finding a review, interview, or passing statement about the band that doesn’t make reference to the brooding and gloomy nature of their work. Admittedly, even I when describing their work to folks fall into this trap. And, to be fair, it isn’t entirely an inapt description of what transpires in a typical record from Matt Berninger and the brothers Dessner and Devendorf. Look, just take the title of their most recent release on 4AD, Trouble Will Find Me, it doesn’t exactly evoke images of frivolity, mirth, or sunshine and rainbows. Or, better yet, plug in the headphones and listen to the opening track “I Should Live in Salt” with its plaintive, morose timbre and narrative. These songs are not for the faint of heart, or so it seems.
Appearances, in art, as often they tend to be, are deceiving. Despite depicted as such, The National are not poet laureates of melancholy. Of course, she wanders through their work like all dramas about the lives we lead, appearing as the ostensible central character at times and duplicitous foil at others. But, rarely does she get top billing. A close and attentive listen (or immersion) to The National starting with Alligator to the present will illustrate that there is actually a pervading sense of optimism and undeniable passion for life pulsing through their work, often cloaked in layers of somber musical motifs. To me they are indie-rock’s 21st Century embodiment of existentialism’s willingness to confront the apparent emptiness of a “god-less” universe and choosing to persevere despite no guarantee of after-life or “truth”. They have stared into the abyss and decided to embrace it and look above and beyond. It is an act of brilliant defiance. Yes, when I hear a National song I think of Nietzsche and remember how he would remark that “to live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.” Or, maybe, even more apt, “Without music, life would be a mistake.” The National embrace life as the complex and complicated journey it is, filled with dueling moments of epiphany and failure, exhilaration and recriminations, beauty and darkness; each opposition or duality informing and expanding the other. For we only know the highs of life because we have traveled through the difficult days and each lives in tandem with the other. This is how I see the world, a twisted cacophonous pastiche of exhilarating uncertainty and complicated beauty. I think that is how the gentlemen of The National see it too.
The general consensus is that the Trouble Will Find Me is not The National’s “best work” and, yet, almost everyone I know that has spent any time with this record comes away wanting to return. Whether it is finding a personal connection in a song, a phrase, a feeling or unable to untie itself from its embrace, it lingers in one’s consciousness like a loyal confidant. Personally, although not totally captivated by the lead singles, I decided to defer judgment until the whole work came through. After sitting with the album alone for an initial listen, I was hooked. The record starts almost in media res with “I Should Live in Salt”, a retort to a conflict or slight beyond the frame of the song’s narrative, and yet, the listener knows this story all too well: you should know me better than that. From there it explodes into oscillating flows of gnawing self-awareness (e.g., “Demons”, “Graceless”) and willful assertion (e.g., “Don’t Swallow the Cap”, “This is the Last Time”). I know that like its predecessor High Violet, the vinyl exterior will get worn from repeated listens and possibly scratched from exuberant, amorphous dancing in the dark to its more aggressive moments like “Sea of Love”, waving a fist in the air and joining Matt and Sharon Van Etten in extorting, “Hey Joe sorry I hurt you, but they love is a virtue. . . don’t they?” But more likely than not, I will also find more connection (and hidden memories) in the all too true “I stay down with my demons” from “Demons”. Then again, maybe I’ll wallow in the entrancing guitar hook from “I Need My Girl” with its stripped down and naked admission of reliance on others. Matt Berninger has a way of turning admissions of reliance, weakness, or ostensible embarrassment into profoundly empowering and unifying moments. I still cringe when I hear him unabashedly declaim, “I was afraid I’d eat your brains, cause I am evil” from “Conversation 16”, recognizing that we all have these monstrous moments between self-realization and self-abasement, living our morally contradictory lives. So how do these boys from the Buckeye state with an ongoing residency in the borough of Brooklyn achieve such a profound sense of emotional depth? Perhaps it’s their penchant for brutally honest lyrics without remorse. At times, I am reminded of artists in their prime like U2 form Boy to Joshua Tree or Springsteen from Born to Run to Nebraska, or R.E.M. from Murmur to Automatic for the People (with a slight exception for Green). Although not replicating their sound, they resonate in the same realm, finding universal appeal through the expression of the mundane and not fearful of going to the places we don’t want to talk about. Great artists are willing to go to the abyss, look into it, and fill the emptiness and expanse with harmony and wisdom.
So, if you haven’t already, don’t fret about going to the precipice of the cliff, listen to the National’s newest record: Trouble Will Find Me.
Because sometimes a little trouble is what you need in your life.
 Yes, that is two pairs of brothers in the band. I don’t play poker but I think two pairs is a pretty good hand and it makes for a solid band in this case. Also, if you have ever seen them live (a definite must) you’ll see that the brothers all rotate instruments; that much talent is just wonderfully sickening.