Thursday, April 10, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Two Old Gems from The National

I remember my first summer after high school, sitting in my Mom's living room reading some (now discontinued) music magazine that had come with a compilation mix. I tore the plastic disc out of the fold and scanned the song list, seeing existing favourites on there - My Morning Jacket, Sufjan Stevens, Franz Ferdinand - before coming across a band called The National. Never heard of 'em.

I trotted up to my room, popped in the CD and sat cross-legged while Matt Berninger's baritone growl purred through my speakers. I remember thinking his register was so unique, that it was almost goofy; the voice had to be coming from some large, theatrical figure. As the melody flowed on, it became evident that a vocal like this one was the only possible option to accompany the sounds I was hearing: grandiose, romantic arrangements that dipped into quiet, haunting territory before flaring back up, like explosions of fireworks in the sky popping over and over again. The voice, although already iconic in my ears, became only a part of this genius equation that hadn't been written in my books previously. Within a few minutes of "Lit Up," The National were one of the greatest things I'd ever heard.

It's nice to remember little musical moments like that one. I always liken them to the first time our parents heard Robert Plant yowl or Bruce Springsteen preach from a 45. I am 100% confident I'm able to compare The National to the aforementioned legends, because their brilliant 15-year career is really only getting started.

Tomorrow, I see the Brooklyn rockers for the fourth time, and I can guarantee I'll be just as giddy as the starry-eyed 17 year-old who felt like she struck gold.


  1. Saw their Massey show last night, and they blew it out of the water. Matt Berninger is the coolest mother f***er out there, and Daughter combined Sigur Ross ambience with XX shoe-gaze vocals, topped off with some bad-ass rocker chick attitude for good measure. Just watch out for flying glasses of red wine, it's a hazard.

  2. Oh yeah. This will be my fourth time seeing them, and Massey is HANDS down the venue I'm most excited for! They're unreal live. Bringing my Mom (she's pretty cool) - hopefully she doesn't get pelted with red wine glasses...