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April 8, 2013 5:25 PM   Subscribe

Anthemic indie rock band The National have just released 'Demons', the first single off their upcoming album Trouble Will Find Me. The band is perhaps best known for their song Mr November and its association with the Obama reelection campaign.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants (70 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
For ASOIAF fans there is also also this
posted by NervousVarun at 5:31 PM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Thanks for that post!

A couple of their other (among many) hits, to give any newcomers here a taste of their sound:
Bloodbuzz Ohio
Fake Empire

Here's their excellent and perfect mood-setting song from Portal 2.

More than the band's expansive guitars and relentless drumming, or Matt Berninger's melancholy baritone voice, I find his wordplay to be the band's true calling card. Here are some excerpts:

Bloodbuzz Ohio:
I still owe money to the money to the money I owe

Start a War:
Do you really think you can just put it in a safe behind a painting, lock it up and leave?
Walk away now and you're gonna start a war


England:
Famous angels never come through England
England gets the ones you never need
I'm in a Los Angeles Cathedral
Minor singin' airheads sing for me


Ada:
Ada don't talk about reasons why you don't want to talk about reasons why you don't wanna talk

His writing is intriguing and playful in a way that I feel very few people seem to pull off. Beautiful stuff. Can't wait for the album.
posted by mysticreferee at 5:44 PM on April 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


The band is perhaps best known for their song Mr November and its association with the Obama reelection campaign.

I'm going to say that 99.999% of the US electorate would wonder what the fuck you were talking about and the others, like me, who saw them during whatever tour it was that they had the Obama Mr. November t-shirts, would still wonder what the fuck you were talking about.

That being said, the best show I've seen this century was The National at the Hollywood Bowl during the High Violet tour. Really excited about the album, and to see them again.

we'll run like we're awesome, totally genius
posted by eyeballkid at 5:49 PM on April 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


They're pretty popular in Australia, and I've seen them twice - once with Bright Eyes, which was almost too emotional to bare. There's something so widescreen and melancholy about them that works perfectly.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:51 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


The band is perhaps best known for their song Mr November Exile Vilify and its association with the Obama reelection campaign Portal 2.

(I know that probably didn't fix it for you, but it fixed it for me.)
posted by mhoye at 5:54 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was lucky enough to catch their show in Madison, WI the same day they opened for Pres. Obama. Pretty amazing time to see a band - right after they'd hung out with the leader of the free world...
posted by andythebean at 5:57 PM on April 8, 2013


Yeah, don't get the love for these guys. Kind of the same mid-tempo slow-burner over and over and over again.
posted by bardic at 6:00 PM on April 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Thanks for this!

I met Matt once on a bench in Central Park and we chatted about our mutual home state of Ohio and what our days held, while I did everything in my power not to pull out my iPod (let me date this story for you) and start rambling about my favorite bootlegs and lyrics.
posted by icaicaer at 6:01 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like them, but I thought they were probably best known for their song Apartment Song and its association with a Google commercial.

That being said, I, too, am eagerly awaiting the new album.
posted by sauril at 6:05 PM on April 8, 2013


Very very few bands get their release dates put on my calendar these days. The National is one, on the calendar for a few weeks now, and this new song makes me -- dare I say it? -- happy.

Mid tempo my ass

But then there are songs like these...
Break my arms around the one I love
So you can put a blue ribbon on my brain
And this will always break my heart
posted by vers at 6:06 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I thought I couldn't hate the sound of a band more than Beirut until I accidentally listened to some National. I know a lot of the classical players who play on their albums and it really puzzles me why they'd want to be associated with that stuff.. guess it pays though, and they get to play in "rock" concerts? This stuff doesn't rock very much at all, to me at least. It kind of whines, or drones.
posted by ReeMonster at 6:12 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I love The National so hard that sometimes it punches through my gut and confuses my husband.
posted by Kitteh at 6:18 PM on April 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


I've never heard of this band, but I do know I have to photograph them next week. Guess we'll see what they're all about... but its not sounding real great.
posted by blaneyphoto at 6:22 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


... but its not sounding real great.

I can't even. What.
posted by vers at 6:35 PM on April 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


Test to tell if The National is for you; are you a middle aged parent with an over inflated sense of your own musical tastes? Do you like to consider yourself edgy compared to all the other Lady Gaga listening parents in your kids soccer driving pool? If the answer to both questions is yes, congrats, you can officially be excited about the upcoming release.

For the record this is as big news in my house as anything to happen this year. I love The National.
posted by Keith Talent at 6:51 PM on April 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


High Violet came out when my wife and I were dead broke and living in a tiny sublet on the far north side of Chicago. She was pregnant with our daughter and driving around in a deathtrap of a Ford Aspire (the most aptly named car in the world, I joked, because the minute you're in it...), doing her fieldwork in the rough neighborhoods on the south and west sides of the city. The dog and I would walk her to her car in the morning, I'd see her lurch off in a puff of smoke and think that every fucking thing I loved in the world was right there in that moment, it was all so fragile and I had no way of keeping it whole. Then I'd go back into the apartment and spend the day trying to write. A month or so into the summer, we got a terrible diagnosis about our unborn child and stared, for a while, into the blackest abyss I've ever known.

We're better now. God are we ever better. But all I have to hear are the opening notes of Afraid of Everyone and I'm right back in that place again. Matt Berninger doesn't know me and I don't know him, but I'll be goddamned if he didn't write a song that has lodged itself in the deepest part of me.

I'm not sure how I feel about the new album.
posted by R. Schlock at 6:53 PM on April 8, 2013 [13 favorites]


but its not sounding real great

way to bring the right energy to the shoot.
posted by photoslob at 6:53 PM on April 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


way to bring the right energy to the shoot.
posted by photoslob


Won't matter a bit. I don't feel obligated to like all my subjects, just simply create images that make my clients happy. I've got no problem finding work, so I must be doing something right. And hey, maybe the band will actually appeal to me... you never know.
posted by blaneyphoto at 7:13 PM on April 8, 2013


groups with guitars are on the way out, so I'll pass
posted by thelonius at 7:14 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Test to tell if The National is for you; are you a middle aged parent with an over inflated sense of your own musical tastes? Do you like to consider yourself edgy compared to all the other Lady Gaga listening parents in your kids soccer driving pool? If the answer to both questions is yes, congrats, you can officially be excited about the upcoming release.


Oh come now... that's just... it's... but I...

*resigned sigh*
posted by eyeballkid at 7:18 PM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


As much as I love Berninger's writing when it's witty or crudely vivid--the imagery attached to seemingly banal & awkward misfires and anxieties, and the juxtaposition of that against that textured music, they're short stories in song form!--it's "About Today," with its simple, straightforward lyrics, that floors me every time. That song builds and builds, and then just breaks open wide. Their recent songs remind me of "About Today" more and more.

And the more I listen to this song in particular, the more I'm liking it. I'm looking forward to this album.
posted by mixedmetaphors at 7:22 PM on April 8, 2013


I just love the lead singer's voice. I think I'd like the lyrics if I got past the voice, but the voice is distracting in a good way. (Data point: middle-aged, eclectic taste which is less "good" than "all over the map", but no kids.)
posted by immlass at 7:30 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


For ASOIAF fans there is also also this

There is no also this. There is only this.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:31 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I never understand the impulse to come into a thread about something and just say you don't like it.
posted by saul wright at 7:49 PM on April 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


it's "About Today," with its simple, straightforward lyrics, that floors me every time. That song builds and builds, and then just breaks open wide.

Seconded! "About Today" is one of those songs that can just quietly wreck you, and it really sketches out a hell of a story with it's simple lyrics. Some combination of the silences and pauses in Berninger's phrasing, and the way he sings, "How close am I to losing you?" makes this song devastating to me. Speaking of "About Today," the whole Cherry Tree EP is gold. Just perfectly crafted.

I know The National get ragged on as boring dad rock a lot of the time, but I don't get it. I think they perfectly encapsulate the ambivalence, anxiety, and weirdness of middle class adulthood and adult relationships. Or "another uninnocent elegant fall into the unmagnificent lives of adults," as they put it on "Mistaken for Strangers." So yeah, count me as someone else who's counting the days until their new album. And another vote for midtempo my ass: "It's a terrible love and I'm walking with spiders, it's a terrible love that I'm walking in."

I should note that I am trying really hard to make sure this comment doesn't descend into unbecoming, fangirlish gibbering over just how much I love The National. Because I love The National A LOT.
posted by yasaman at 8:01 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I remember an extended, instrumental version of Fake Empire played to the crowd waiting to hear Obama make his acceptance speech in 2008. I also remember wondering if anyone making the decisions backstage had actually listened to and/or knew the lyrics to that song.

Turn the light out say goodnight
no thinking for a little while
lets not try to figure out everything at once
It's hard to keep track of you falling through the sky
we're half-awake in a fake empire
we're half-awake in a fake empire

posted by carsonb at 8:07 PM on April 8, 2013


"I never understand the impulse to come into a thread about something and just say you don't like it."

I never understand how you can like a band yet be so insecure as to avoid any and all criticisms of said band.
posted by bardic at 8:09 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I also remember wondering if anyone making the decisions backstage had actually listened to and/or knew the lyrics to that song.

That's astonishing, really. It's like the lefty version of Reagan using "Born in the USA" in his reelection campaign.
posted by R. Schlock at 8:11 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I never understand how you can like a band yet be so insecure as to avoid any and all criticisms of said band.

Keep speaking the truth. People will have to start listening. Society can no longer afford these staggered drumbeats. It's time for a serious national conversation about layered guitars and introspective mumbling.
posted by Mike Smith at 8:48 PM on April 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


I highly, highly, highly recommend listening to the "black sessions" that The National recorded for Bernard Lenoir in 2003, 2005, and 2007. They're some of the best live recordings that I know of from any band (and produced/engineered for a radio broadcast, so the recording itself is basically album-quality).

Don't get me wrong -- The National's studio recordings are great, and are not completely eclipsed by their live work. However, that live recording of "Squalor Victoria" just has that tiny bit of edge that makes it truly incredible.
posted by schmod at 8:54 PM on April 8, 2013 [13 favorites]


I like The National because I have severe depression and a lot of their lyrics resonate really deeply with that in me. It's okay if you don't like The National, though, or if you do like them but for different reasons!
posted by titus n. owl at 8:58 PM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I never understand the impulse to come into a thread about something and just say you don't like it.

I don't understand it either but I'm having it right now!

This song's not so bad though. And really, if I was going to finally, definitively, through the force of my obviously superior opinions, talk everybody on the internet into disliking a musical group, it'd be $YourFavoriteBand instead.

Because those guys/gals/robots suck, right?
posted by hap_hazard at 9:12 PM on April 8, 2013


Yay! Love The National.

Huh, also, I never would have guessed Mr. November was one of their more well-known songs. Agree with others upthread that if the Obama folks used this as an official campaign song they need to, uh, look into other music-pickers.
posted by threeants at 9:18 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Does the new album have Ada? Because otherwise it's not as good as the old album.
posted by miyabo at 9:29 PM on April 8, 2013


1. the national is my all-time favorite band. shaky excited about this album.
2. here are the lyrics for "demon". I am secretly in love with/ Everyone that I grew up with augh my heart
3. "slow show" is still my favorite song. this acoustic version particularly guts me.
4. I came across matt berninger posing for press pics at treasure island music festival a couple years ago and don't usually get starstruck but I totally hung back and creepy stared for far too long
posted by changeling at 9:31 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


5. ALSO! matt berninger sang "the rains of castamere" at the end of the penultimate episode of game of thrones season two and I think I'm still haunted
posted by changeling at 9:34 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well they're no Garfunkel and Oates...
posted by evilDoug at 9:41 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was typing a long comment continuing the whole #justdroppedintotellyouyourfavoritebandsucks derail, but on second thought, I'll just leave this video of the guitarist explaining how to play Fake Empire and Slow Show.
posted by saul wright at 9:47 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


This discussion of the musical value of the National is a microcosom of attitudes of anybody in the US.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:49 PM on April 8, 2013


"This discussion of the musical value of the National is a microcosom of attitudes of anybody in the US."

I just wish they sounded more like Die Antwoord. Is that too much to ask?
posted by bardic at 9:52 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


*drops into Mortal Kombat thread*

Yeah, don't get the love for these games. I just wish they were more like Crash Bandicoot. Is that too much to ask?
posted by saul wright at 10:03 PM on April 8, 2013


The National, according to my Last.fm profile, are my favorite band. I do not disagree.

There are several things I love about the band, but goddamn if they don't write the best lyrics around.

One of my favorites is the short but crushing (in so many ways) "Wasp Nest" from the exceptional Cherry Tree EP. Read this and if you still don't understand all the love for The National, wtf.

You're cussing a storm in a cocktail dress
your mother wore when she was young
Red sun saint around your neck
A wet martini in a paper cup
You're a wasp nest, you're a wasp nest.

Your eyes are broken bottles
And I'm afraid to ask
And all your wrath and cutting beauty
You're poison in the pretty glass
You're a wasp nest, you're a wasp nest

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

posted by mcstayinskool at 10:08 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


if you like The National you may also enjoy Tindersticks
posted by roger ackroyd at 10:12 PM on April 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


This fan-made montage of Half-Life 2 set to "Exile Vilify" is surprisingly good.
posted by ubernostrum at 10:13 PM on April 8, 2013


Ghah, Alligator is eight years old. I'm eight years older.

*FPP flagged as I Don't Want To Think About That*
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:18 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I can't say I actually like their lyrics (that prize belongs to Stephen Merritt), but I love love love the vocals and melancholy feel.
posted by impishoptimist at 11:55 PM on April 8, 2013


"Mid tempo my ass"

Are you trying to communicate that your ass is mid-tempo? Because both of the songs to refute it are… pretty much mid-tempo (one of 'em has an uptempo drum bridge, and one of 'em has a little howling at the beginning). It's OK. Not everything has to be fast.

Jesus, it's like folks don't realize that the things they like about the band — earnest mid-tempo middle class anthems of alienation and ennui — can be exactly what bores the shit out of other people.
posted by klangklangston at 12:34 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm maybe jumping in a little late, but by all means feel free to say you don't like a linked band, video, movie, art performance, imgur gallery, whatever.

But for the benefit of all involved, including/especially the people who are fans of the linked material, please do so with at least some attempt at pinpointing why you dislike it. This is the difference between dialogue and threadshitting. Ideally your critique is aimed at the work itself and not the people surrounding it, but we can't all be perfect.
posted by Soultron at 1:02 AM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I just wish they sounded more like Die Antwoord . Is that too much to ask?

Yes, because Die Antwoord seem to trade in image and irony. If The National sounded more like then it would destroy their heart and the hearts of their fans.

I watched Matt Berringer walk on top of a sold out crowd like Jesus walking on the water.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 1:26 AM on April 9, 2013


Huh. I'd heard OF The National, but didn't seek them out. And apparently I've heard a few songs but didn't realize it was them.

Kind of a cool sound, I think. Remind me a bit of Luna in some ways, which is a good thing to my ears.

Thanks for posting. I'll do some exploring. Maybe I'm a fan. Dunno yet.
posted by Thistledown at 3:49 AM on April 9, 2013


However, that live recording of "Squalor Victoria" just has that tiny bit of edge that makes it truly incredible.

Thank you for this! I've seen The National a few times and always regret that the album version of Squalor is not the live version. It's the shouting I missed, the shouting.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:28 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wait, that's not Leonard Cohen?
posted by sutt at 4:35 AM on April 9, 2013


It turned out I'd heard a bunch of their stuff before, but I remember learning about The National after this awesomely wtf line from Conversation 16:

I was afraid I'd eat your brains
Cause I'm evil

posted by bjrubble at 5:04 AM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Conversation 13" is one of those songs that lives in my ears like a sexy sexy slightly off-kilter boyfriend. Where everytime he whispers in your ears, you go, "I think you just said something about eating my brains, but your voice was so rumbly and hot, so where was I again?"
posted by Kitteh at 5:09 AM on April 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


I am super excited for this album! Saw them at All Tomorrow's Parties in 2008 and was just blown away by the magic they created with their energy and the crowd's energy. We saw them again in Boston and some guy in the audience had pre-arranged to propose to his girlfriend during Slow Show, but they had broken up by the time the show came around. Very few bands are babysitter-worthy these days, but I'm going to check their tour schedule and deem them babysitter worthy when they come around (oh no, it's true, I am a middle aged parent and I love The National).
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 6:22 AM on April 9, 2013


Just came in here to say I'm a perfect piece of ass.
posted by yerfatma at 6:25 AM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, you are from California.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:31 AM on April 9, 2013


If you can't appreciate a band with a video in which Secret Service Agent Roger Sterling silently pines for President Kristin Schaal, who is in love with a Vladimir Putin-esque Russian autocrat, maybe it's time to admit that you're just dead inside.
posted by Rangeboy at 7:26 AM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Maybe no math rock nerd considers himself one. I'm certainly not. But just hearing a new song in 7/4, made without explicitly proggy intent, makes me smile.
posted by kurumi at 8:37 AM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's the shouting I missed, the shouting

I wasn't in love with "afraid of everyone" until I heard him shout the last part on letterman. so good.
posted by changeling at 8:50 AM on April 9, 2013


Ah, the shouting. Slipping Husband is the quintessential The National shouting song, IMO. Hop to about the 2:30 mark. "Dear we better get a drink in you before you start to bore us"
posted by mcstayinskool at 8:57 AM on April 9, 2013


Two more songs from the new album went up on YT today, recorded yesterday live from the BBC:

Graceless

Heavenfaced
posted by vers at 9:09 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Best Joy Division cover band evah.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:22 AM on April 9, 2013


Best Joy Division cover band evah.

You've never listened to Joy Division, have you.
posted by eyeballkid at 9:27 AM on April 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


Wait, that's not Leonard Cohen?

I think that's what got me hooked on them to begin with. My husband plays a lot of music....a lot of music... and most of it doesn't even register with me. He is always listening to new bands, new artists, rediscovered artists, and anything Pitchfork recommends. Every once in awhile a song turns up and I say "Who is that?" because it is usually some guy with a really low voice and it sounds like Leonard Cohen. Which is how I came to put Boxer on my player and fell in love with Slow Show.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 11:57 AM on April 9, 2013


ReeMonster: "I know a lot of the classical players who play on their albums and it really puzzles me why they'd want to be associated with that stuff"

Good to know working musicians are doing so well out there!
posted by stratastar at 1:45 PM on April 9, 2013


ReeMonster: I thought I couldn't hate the sound of a band more than Beirut until I accidentally listened to some National. I know a lot of the classical players who play on their albums and it really puzzles me why they'd want to be associated with that stuff..

What do you mean? Are we talking about the same Beirut?
posted by Adamsmasher at 11:00 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sorry, best Ian Curtis impersonator evah.

maybe it's just me
posted by humboldt32 at 1:01 PM on April 10, 2013


Second new single: Don't Swallow the Cap.
posted by schmod at 9:13 AM on April 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


You said, I think I'm like Tennessee Williams
I wait for the click
I wait, but it doesn't kick in
I think I'm like Tennesse Williams
I wait for the click
I wait, but it doesn't kick in
posted by schmod at 3:23 PM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


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