Though it was released in May, it’s taken me ages to get to the point where I can cobble together a post about this album. It took me many, many listens before I could work out whether I liked it or not. It seemed darker or thicker than their previous offerings, the melodies wouldn’t stick in my head and I just didn’t get it.
I think part of the problem was that I’d heard a few songs prior to the full album. With some bands and releases this isn’t a such a big deal, but in this case, hearing these songs out of context meant that I’d already formed opinions without hearing the whole thing. Big, big mistake! Huge.
I think one of the first tracks I heard was ‘Bloodbuzz Ohio’ and I remember really, really hating it. ‘This is not The National!’ I thought. As the sixth track on the album though, following immediately after the gradual build and explosion of ‘Afraid Of Everyone’, it’s an absolute stunner. It’s been a long time since I heard two songs blend so seamlessly together.
Now, it’s an album that I can’t get enough of. It’s a rare week when I haven’t listened to it two or three times in a single sitting, and I can’t believe that it took so long for it to click. All the classic National themes are there – dark humour, gloomy introspection, loss, anxiety, confusion, despair.
Album highlights? Well, it’s hard to go past the ‘Afraid Of Everyone’/’Bloodbuzz’ combination, but I love the slow burn of ‘Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks’ as well, and the line about inventing ‘a summer lovin’ torture party’ in ‘Lemonworld’ is pretty fantastic. I love ‘Sorrow’ too, despite its less than happy sentiments. Bugger it, I love the whole damn thing!
And, thanks to my obsessive website checking and a heads up from a friend, I discovered that The National, in addition to doing the Oz music festival circuit this summer, are also playing at The Palais in Melbourne and I’ve got tickets!! I can’t tell you how excited I am to be seeing them again. I’m sure it will be equally as good as last time, although the change in venue will probably make for a slightly different atmosphere I think. At least this time I’ll be able to see!
The January 9 date is sold out now, but a second Palais show has just been announced. Presale tickets are available from 5pm Thursday 21st October, with general tickets on sale Friday 22nd October at 12pm. Click here for more info.
(Image via Claus.com – check out their excellent album review here)
There can’t be too many people out there who haven’t heard about The National’s new album High Violet, due for release May 11 (hurry up dammit!). Since they’re one of my favourite bands, it would be remiss of me not to mention it, don’t you think? Can’t say the cover art’s doing much for me though.
Here’s the track listing:
1. Terrible Love
3. Anyone’s Ghost
4. Little Faith
5. Afraid of Everyone
6. Bloodbuzz Ohio
9. Conversation 16
11. Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks
I’ve been playing this one fairly solidly since it appeared on the blogs last year… let’s hope that solo is replicated note for note on the album.
(Image via pitchfork)
Want one of your own? Head to The National shop and check out the current sale items. Wish I’d waited a little longer to buy mine – I shelled out top dollar two weeks ago, and I coulda saved myself some big bickies! But then I wouldn’t have the shirt now would I?
My first taste of The National was a random download of ‘All The Wine’. Back in January 2008 I wrote about listening to it for the first time as I walked down the street to the shops:
I think a couple of people mistook me for a crazy person as I ambled along the footpath grinning like an idiot and chuckling to myself, but what did I care? I had just discovered The National.
And another one of my favourites:
You’re all humming live wires under your killing clothes.
Get over here, I wanna kiss your skinny throat
You’re a wasp nest, you’re a wasp nest
Girl On A Swing: Tina Tarnoff
Colin Blunstone, Dexy's Midnight Runners, Kelley Stolz, Missy Higgins, mp3, Music, Neutral Milk Hotel, Okkervil River, sugar and spice, The National, The Waifs, Throw Me The Statue, Travis, Van Morrison
Pippi Longstocking is probably not the quintessential example of sugar and spice, but she’s definitely full of spirit and pluck. Hopefully these songs cover all of those elements, and then some. I’m definitely not the first person to do a girl’s names mix, and there are a couple of old faves here, but hopefully there’s one or two that you haven’t come across before.
Angela – Missy Higgins She’s a danger you’re addicted to
April Anne – Okkervil River A cover, but naturally they make it their own
Gillian – The Waifs Gillian if you weren’t my mother I’d make you my wife… slightly creepy incestuous lyrics aside, this is a beautiful song
Karen – The National Doing what they do best
Lolita – Throw Me The Statue Things could multiply at appalling rates
Mary Won’t You Warm My Bed – Colin Blunstone Clear and to the point
Mean Marianne – Kelley Stolz Marianne is a popular girl
Naomi – Neutral Milk Hotel These guys can definitely pen a good tune
Natalia – Van Morrison Removed by request Another from the veteran Irishman
Selfish Jean – Travis Telling it like it is
Image courtesy of Sarah’s Sketches. Sarah is a graphic artist and her designs are gorgeous.
It’s Elspeth’s birthday today. She may not wish to reveal her age to you, dotty old thing that she is, but I can tell you that she hasn’t quite reached the stage of dying her hair blue and dedicating her life to bingo. As the older sister, that’s my department.
Happy birthday Elspeth. I hope you spent the day kicking up your heels and painting the town red. Enjoy the rest of your evening – don’t drink too much pink wine. I’m off to play bowls with Norm and Elsie. Cheers!
Birthday – The Bird And The Bee If you need an explanation, you’ve drunk too much pink wine
All The Wine – The National Because all the wine is all for you
Inner Smile – Texas Because it’s the closest I could get to that fake smile you used to do when we were kids and someone stuck a camera in your face
Good Day – Jewel Because I hope you had one
Chosen Ones: Some of my favourite bands/artists. I’m only covering some of them in this post, however most of them have been discussed at some stage here at It All Started, and I find myself adding more as I continue to explore the wonderful world of the music blog. I’m not going to go on about how awesome they all are – if you already know them, then you are aware of their brilliance. If you don’t know them already, take a punt, download their tunes and maybe one day they’ll become your Chosen Ones as well. Enjoy!
Was pretty stoked to come across this new track from The National, performed live a month or two ago. It’s fantastic, of course, with the highlight for me the floaty flutey bits that overlay the beautiful strings. Hopefully this is a taste of new things to come from the always outstanding The National.
Last Friday night I went to see The National at The Corner Hotel in Melbourne. It was a humid night and as we waited outside a few drops of rain were falling. Once inside, Elspeth and I bagged a spot right near the stage and guarded it jealously.
The opening act was The Ned Collette Band, a three piece folk outfit lead by (you guessed it) Ned Collette. I didn’t mind these guys, great melodies, world weary vocals and a fantastic guitar solo in the middle of the show. You can check out their myspace here.
Next up was Melbourne based indie rock band Deloris. These guys were a bit more fast paced and kept the momentum going, barely pausing in between songs. You can check out their myspace here.
And then finally, it was time. Starting a little late due to a couple of technical difficulties, The National came out at about 11:30 and went on to play a stellar show. Set list included ‘Secret Meeting’, ‘Mistaken for Strangers’, ‘Brainy’, ‘Slow Show’, ‘Squalor Victoria’, ‘All the Wine’, ‘Start A War’, ‘Baby, We’ll Be Fine’, ‘Ada’ and ‘Fake Empire’. Encore was ‘Green Gloves’ followed by ‘Mr November’ and finishing with ‘About Today’.
I’m finding it hard to describe how blown away I was by their all round awesomeness. It was a bit surreal watching them and hearing the same songs that I’d been listening to over and over again being played only a few metres away.
I was stoked to hear ‘All the Wine’ about halfway through the show, as I knew that it wasn’t a regular feature of their live gigs. There are also a couple of songs that I’ll be listening to a lot more than I did before I saw them live – ‘Squalor Victoria’ was big and loud and vibrant, and I’ll be paying more attention to ‘Start A War’ as well, which I’d somehow neglected a little bit during my constant replays of their other stuff.
Another highlight for me was the multi talented Padma Newsome – the man is awesome! He played the keyboard at various stages during the show, but shined when playing the violin. He blew me away, and at one point as he played an intensely passionate solo, I had shivers running down my spine. Phenomenal.
There was also lots of interaction with the crowd – lead singer Matt Berninger jumped off the stage and came into the audience at one point, yelling into the mike and dancing with the crowd which was pretty cool. There was a bit of chatting in between songs also – people in the crowd kept calling out requests, which they ignored, until someone yelled out ‘Stairway to Heaven’. Everybody laughed, and Matt said ‘Yeah, we can play Stairway to Heaven’. A few people cheered, but quickly stopped when Matt added ‘but it’s a terrible song’.
He also talked about how they wanted to come to Australia in 2005 when ‘Alligator’ was released, but how they were too poor. He went on to say that only rich people can afford to come to Australia ‘which is fair enough, only the rich deserve to enjoy this beautiful country’. Was pretty funny.
The only complaint I have (and it’s nothing to do with the band, nor the members of the Impossibly Tall Club who decided to come and stand right in front of Elspeth and I right before The National came out on stage) was that it was really hot and humid in there. Methinks The Corner needs some air con!
Other than that, it was a truly awesome performance and I wish I’d gone to the show on the following night as well just so I could go through it all again!