August 3, 2013
Listen To The National
Welcome to Bands You Should Be Listening To. My goal here is to bring an artist to your attention, whether you’ve heard of them or not, and convince you to give them a listen. My hope is that you end up finding some tunes that you love! Let’s get started.
The National is a rock band hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio. Since forming in 1999, the band has seen steady improvement with each subsequent release. They’ve gained experience, and they’ve gained popularity among the masses. It’s a standard rock band success story. But the National aren’t your standard rock band. They’re older. Some of them are Ivy League educated. Their music isn’t so much heavy and aggressive and as it is emotive, deliberate, and textured.
And The National doesn’t live the typical lifestyle of a typical rock star. Sure they go out and have a fun time, but these are adults; they have wives and children. They stress over paying bills, and deal with depression and mid-life crises. But this isn’t to say their point of reference isn’t any less interesting or worthwhile. In fact, it is more so. The content and subject matter found in these songs is more personal. Sometimes they’re less crucial (lines like “I’m going through an awkward phase”, the song about feeling out of place at a party), but the humanity in them is more than worth it.
Singer Matt Beringer’s rumbling baritone fits the tone brilliantly; his voice completes the slow, melancholy feel that the band is striving for. But the rest of the instrumentation is underrated in its tightness, its expansive nature, and its variation throughout songs. One song features a brass section, another a harmonica. And the usual mix of guitar, bass, and drums act as so much more than just a backing band. They mix and mold together to create stunningly beautiful arrangements of sound. Listening to this music, sometimes your jaw just drops. And their flexibility is exemplified with their occasional forays into an acoustic setup. Their Tiny Desk Concert for NPR, with its smaller space and necessity for acoustic instruments transformed them from avant-garde, big ideas and big sounds, into a chilled out, almost folk band with multiple guitars and multiple singers. When these songs grow in this context, they do so naturally, swelling to an endearing assortment of sounds, and bare, immediate emotion.
At the end of the day, The National are a collection of some of the most impassioned, talented, and caring students of music in recent memory. They’re writing about what they know. And in doing that, they’re writing some simply brilliant music.
Thanks for reading! If you end up listening to the music from this article, please let me know how you liked it! I always love to hear your opinions, even (and especially) if they differ from my own. You can tweet at me @RobinCopple1, or contact me through my email. Don’t be shy! See you next time. Keep listening to music!
Image Credit: The National