|All Artists: The National|
Members Wishing: 10
Total Copies: 0
Label: Beggars Banquet
Release Date: 4/3/2006
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
Style: Indie & Lo-Fi
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
These five Cincinnati friends recorded two albums for Brassland before signing to Beggars Banquet. Their last effort, "Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers", was touted as one of the year's best by Rolling Stone and other magazines.... more »
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These five Cincinnati friends recorded two albums for Brassland before signing to Beggars Banquet. Their last effort, "Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers", was touted as one of the year's best by Rolling Stone and other magazines. On "Alligator", Matt Berninger's potent baritone still intones about matters fraught, funny, and sad; about record collections, missing persons, and medium-sized American hearts. "Startling and subtly affecting, The National creeps in like the killer in a bleak gothic novel. Strings tremble, hearts break, and each smoldering song brings a harrowing tale of new pities"--Magnet.
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Sublime, sad, rocks its way into your brain
Jennifer Barger | Falls Church, VA USA | 06/20/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I gave this a try based on Spin's rave and the fact that I think a similar band, the Arcade Fire, is swell. At first listen, I thought the National was a bit repetitive, a little too emo, and kinda like a Smith's rip off band.
Boy, was I really, really wrong.
This band's ballads rock, and its rock songs possess an emotional urgency that you usually only see in ballads. I wouldn't call this emo, but maybe urgent chamber pop? Baroque rock? Whatever the National is doing, it's producing music that seems almost like fine literature....addictive, lush, loaded with smart, grown-up lyrics. It's as good as the Arcade Fire if not better.
Much has been made of lead singer Matt Berninger's baritone, comparing it to the growls of Morrissey or Nick Cave. It's an apt description, but Berninger also channels the dude from Crash Test Dummies and even early Bono (before he turned into an Ipod monster with mediocre, over-orchestrated songs). Berninger sings in an ironic tone without being morose. He's wry and heartbroken without being snarky a la the band Cake.
His band is held together by tight drumming, ever-changing guitars, spiraling violens and some very effective background chanting choruses.
There isn't a bad song on this record, but the opening track," Secret Meeting" shines by managing to sound like a cross between Roxy Music and the Clash, a kind of rich, moody rock anthem. Softer songs, including the funny "Looking for Astronauts" and the sad, elegiac "Daughters of the SoHo Riots," are be good ballads without being sappy, crappy Air Supply or Dashboard Confessional drek.
I really can't recommend this album enough. It's unusual, lovely and I can't wait to see what they come up with next.
Moving Americana from Brooklyn (4.5 stars)
Juan Mobili | Valley Cottage, NY USA | 04/22/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I guess it's the nature of Americana -the most puzzling new genre label since "New Age"!- to find its worshippers in the most unlikely places, whether it's a borough of New York -having relocated from Cincinatti- or Leeds in the UK when it comes to Dakota Suite, or even somewhere Norway in the case of Midnight Choir.
Anyway the international references above are not gratutious or forced to make my point, The National ultimately belongs to the same community of voices as the above mentioned bands. Like its peers in Europe, they are keen on emotive ballads that manage to evoke and make sense of the pains of being alive.
Where The National does distinguish itself is in their ability to sound as convincing when it comes to the a louder and more epic songcraft, as they do with the intimate stuff. And, in this album, The National proves their range, whether it is the tender melody of "Daughters of the Soho Riots" or the building passion of "Looking For Astronauts."
Other reviews have already mentioned influences and similarities. Certainly the singer will remind you of Stuart Staples of the Tindersticks, although the references to Tom Waits or Leonard Cohen -both of whom I know and admire- are less obvious to me. Actually, at least when it comes to two of my favorite songs -the brooding "Val Jester" and the gorgeous "All The Wine"- Matt Berninger's voice evoked the tone and phrasing of Robert Fisher from the great Willard Grant Conspiracy.
That said, and more importantly, these guys have their own things to say musically and lyrically, and the names mentioned should only be taken to give new listeners a sense of reference, but not to imply that The National's music owes anyone a major debt. They stand on their own, and they deliver a beautiful, heartfelt album, whether they rock or they long, when they turn the volume up and when they lower the lights.
If you were impressed by last year's EP -Cherry Tree- this full-length gem will fill you with joy. The National bare themselves and will lift your spirit. In addition, to the songs mentioned already, I'd add "The Geese of Beverly Road," "Karen" and "City Middle" to make my case.
Along with "Dignity and Shame" by the Crooked Fingers -which I also reviewed- "Alligator" is the best Americana music that you will hear this year. And what it's even more exciting, it may not even be the peak of their creativity. This band's ground is worth keeping your ear to, for whatever they do in the future."
nick cave fan | dallas, tx | 04/14/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I own all of the National's albums, but so far Alligator is my favorite. Like their other albums, there is a real range of songs --- from raging Pixies-esque rock songs to slow ballads that seem to channel Nick Cave or Leonard Cohen. I also get a Cat Stevens or Nick Drake vibe at times-- especially on Daughters of the Soho Riots. The arrangements are intricate but not overdone. In general the tempos are quicker than their previous albums and there is more snycopation in the drumming. The songwriting both lyrically and musically is great. Well done!"