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Lisa Hannigan on Damien Rice: “He didn’t want me in his band anymore, so I left” August is Music Month on the Róisín Meets podcast and Lisa Hannigan is the first guest. Gary Lightbody has not had a girlfriend in eight years. He’s a handsome rock star, the lead singer in Snow Patrol, known for great anthems of love and longing like Run and Chasing Cars, but still he’s single. “Yeah, it doesn’t really make sense, does it?” Who is she dating right now? According to our records, Lisa Hannigan is possibly single. Relationships. Lisa Hannigan has been in a relationship with Damien Rice (2001 - 2006).. About. Lisa Hannigan is a 39 year old Irish Singer. Born Lisa Margaret Hannigan on 12th February, 1981 in Kilcloon, County Meath, Ireland, she is famous for Sea Sew in a career that spans 2001-present. The official website for Lisa Hannigan. TOUR. VIDEO. SHOP. Buy or listen here. New video for 'We The Drowned' here. New video for 'Swan' here. Stream 'At Swim' Buy on CD or LP . Buy on iTunes. Subscribe to the Lisa Hannigan mailing list. After 12 years touring and recording as a solo artist and three albums, I’m so proud to have a live record ... Lisa Margaret Hannigan is an Irish singer, songwriter, and musician. She began her musical career as a member of Damien Rice’s band. Since beginning her solo career in 2007 she has released three albums: Sea Sew and At Swim (2016). Lisa is a leading voice in the global technology community, having been a driving force behind the 2018 CIO survey, and is a global advocate for encouraging more women into technology, including sponsoring KPMG’s IT’s Her Future initiative. Areas of expertise. Mega trends, Technology . Lisa Hannigan doesn’t endear herself particularly to roadies. The Irish singer and songwriter, a multi-instrumentalist, likes to feature a harmonium in her set when she can, a piece of equipment that isn’t the easiest thing to cart around on a world tour. Lisa Hannigan tour dates and tickets 2020-2021 near you. Want to see Lisa Hannigan in concert? Find information on all of Lisa Hannigan’s upcoming concerts, tour dates and ticket information for 2020-2021. Lisa Hannigan is not due to play near your location currently - but they are scheduled to play 4 concerts across 2 countries in 2020-2021. A versatile Irish folk-pop singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and occasional voice actor, Lisa Hannigan made a name for herself as the vocal partner of fellow countryman Damien Rice before setting out on her own in 2008 with the release of her Mercury Prize-nominated debut Sea Sew. Prior to Hannigan's official release of solo material in 2008, some of her live recordings and covers performed on tour were made available through trading networks or on various radio shows. Such covers included a mix of traditional folk and more contemporary songs such as: 'Willy' by Joni Mitchell, 'Be My Husband' by Nina Simone (from the 1965 album Pastel Blues), 'Mercedes Benz' by Janis ...
No one is above the law!
2019.07.24 19:17 Verum_DiceturNo one is above the law!
So say very many Democratic members of the US Congress, today and every day, and they keep repeating it vociferously per the Mueller testimony currently underway. How great is that?!? They keep reiterating and reinforcing the title of this post. And I for one, fully agree with this notion! Perhaps we can all agree that if this nation is to stand firm and continue as a nation, the rule of law must be supported. So I would humbly ask how this comment, this rule, this edict, that very many Americans clearly and surely support would apply to the following individuals, Americans and foreigners, that have been clearly found to have broken our laws? Are the following PARTIAL list of people above the law? Brian Pagliano, Robby Mook, first raised the Russia collusion narrative, Jennifer Palmieri, Communication Director, for HER, Matthew Gehringer, Perkins Coie, general counsel, Michael Sussman, Perkins Coie legal counsel, Congresswoman Wasserman-Schultz, John Podesta, Mike Gaeta, FBI Agent, Lisa Page, FBI Counsel, Peter Strzok, FBI, James Baker, FBI, Victoria Nuland, Glenn Simpson, Fusion GPS, Peter Fritsch, Fusion GPS, Tom Catan, Fusion GPS, Huma Abedin, Bruce Ohr, Nelly Ohr, Stefan Halper, Christine Blasey Ford, Sally Yates, Mary McCord, Andrew McCabe, Rod Rosenstein, John Brennan, Susan Rice, NSA, James Clapper, Alexander Downer, Australia, High Commissioner, Christopher Steele, British operative, Chris Burrows, Orbis Intelligence, Robert Hannigan, UK Intelligence, Sir Richard Dearlove, Chris Burrows, business partner of Dearlove, Sir Andrew Wood, David Kramer, fellow at McCain Institute, Professor Josef Mifsud, James "Weasel" Comey, David Laufman, DAAG, DOJ, NSD, John Carlin, ASG, DOJ, NSD, Cheryl Mills, John Kerry, Loretta Lynch, William J. Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Eric Holder, Barack Hussein Obama, Et al. No one is above the law! Such is the claim, yet the full truth is something other. “Justice consists not in being neutral between right and wrong, but in finding out the right and upholding it, wherever found, against the wrong. “ Teddy Roosevelt Sadly, or perhaps painfully, until such time that very specific injustices are identified and confirmed, and very specific criminals meet a proper degree of JUSTICE, this phrase or the notion of ‘no one is above the law’ is and remains complete and unadulterated bullshit.
2019.06.14 14:31 arcadefuryRanking All 129 Songs Released by The National: #20-1
Check out #129-101 here. Check out #100-81 here. Check out #80-61 here. Check out #60-41 here. Check out #40-21 here. Sorry for the wait on this one. Seeing that it was actually missed and that people were genuinely hanging out for it was incredibly humbling, and I'm very thankful for the reception these posts have gotten, even if it's been heated at times. As I mentioned in the comments of another post, I experienced some pretty severe writer's block while trying to put together these final write-ups; how do you find ways to describe songs that are continually perfect for often similar reasons, while still justifying a ranking that is to an extent almost arbitrary at this point, because all these songs I love so so much and struggle massively to choose between? But, that's all part of the fun, and I've enjoyed this ride a lot so far. I hope you have too. Thank you so much for coming on this journey with me. I hope you're happy with how it ends. But more than anything, I hope to see your own lists as well! Here goes nothing! 20: Exile Vilify (from Exile Vilify - Single, 2011) One of their greatest non-album tracks, Exile Vilify is buoyed by one of the most insistent, instantly catchy piano melodies the Dessners have ever written, which is really saying something. On top of that are some of Matt’s most despondent and hopeless lyrics: “Does it feel like a trial? Did you fall for the same empty answers again? Vilify / don’t even try”. That the song is as instantly catchy and replayable as it is is the ultimate testament to the skilful way the guys are able to marry dark subject matter with instantly memorable and fascinating musical progressions. Ultimately, Exile Vilify is maybe one of the most tragic songs Matt has written, launching us into a miserable world with no hope for improvement. It’s a blistering darkness of depression and self-isolation, and the more intensely you pay attention to it, the more difficult it is to stomach. No wonder it never made an album; neither the anxious wallowing of High Violet nor the solemn acceptance of Trouble Will Find Me reach a point as dark as this. 94 19: I Should Live In Salt (from Trouble Will Find Me, 2013) Though Terrible Love is ranked higher, that ranking is in reference to the Alternate Version, and so I Should Live In Salt is my favourite album opener The National have recorded to date. Immediately thrusting us into a more polished and pretty but no less dark world than High Violet with (surprisingly) acoustic guitar strumming, Matt’s familiar voice soon comes into focus with a series of instantly familiar couplets featuring the repeated intonation “You should know me better than that”. The world of intimate relationships is Matt’s go-to, that much should be clear at this point, and I Should Live In Salt, as I perceive it, is a back-and-forth between partners, where one has felt neglected by the other (the perspective of the verses), while the other wallows in guilt but sees no escape or redemption (the chorus/hook). The song gradually builds and swells to an effervescent climax, with a simple but emotionally affecting electric guitar backing Matt’s final iteration of “I should live in salt for leaving you behind”. It’s a plaintive and instantly devastating opener that drops us into world where trouble has already been found, and the record seldom reaches points as emotionally low and hard-hitting as this. That is absolutely not an insult to TWFM, which is my fourth favourite National record, but a testament to a stunning opener that still blindsides me to this day with how hard it hits. 94 18: Cherry Tree (from Cherry Tree EP, 2004) “Loose lips sink ships.” Like a number of other songs on the Cherry Tree EP, the title track is lyrically simple, each line brief, taut, and cutting, hinting at some horrific, violent act that is just out of frame (see also Wasp Nest). In this instance, the violent act is not physical, but psychological. Matt contextualizes the world of some unbearable confrontation as a battlefield where words are slung like arrows. Matt’s vocal delivery never rises above calm here, but there is genuine threat embedded in the way he caustically warns “No one was asking so leave it alone”, sarcastically croons “You’re sharp alright”, and quietly asserts “Don’t look at me, I’m only breathing”. Every time I listen to this song, I marvel at how the emotions implicit in each of these lines are conveyed so effectively with little actual tonal shift in his voice, and for the first part of the song, a subtle instrumental backing that consists of little more than an ominous, circling melody. Then, everything begins to escalate, and in its final third, Cherry Tree breaks open into an immolating, breathtaking climax, one of the most aggressive and stunningly loud endings to any National song, and the violence that was once merely threatened has become realized. The following track on the EP, About Today, leaves us in the fallout of this war, but this marks maybe the last time the band have captured this kind of conflict so vividly, so aggressively, and as such it is an instant career standout. 95 17: Runaway (from High Violet, 2010) The most restrained and stripped-down song on High Violet nevertheless plays like one big crescendo to me. It swells gradually across its runtime, culminating in some stunning interplay between Matt’s voice, the gentle chords, and fantastic horns, but from start to finish it is one of many emotional high points on my favourite National record. It stirs an immediate, visceral reaction almost as soon as it starts, let alone by the time Matt first despairs, “What makes you think I’m enjoying being led to the flood?”. Another thing might be coming undone, but this is a rare occasion where our narrator takes a stand and refuses to let himself be overcome by things which are usually, understandably, so overwhelming and all-encompassing that even stepping out into the world can be terrifying. That’s why, when Matt declares “we don’t bleed, when we don’t fight” and “I won’t be no runaway, cos I won’t run”, it’s so immensely emotional for me, because I know how hard it can be to put on a brave face like that and stand down the things that have perenially promised disaster at every turn. It’s a moment of immense growth and resolve that represents perhaps the emotional peak of a record that crests from peak to peak near effortlessly. Admittedly, the song is not all power and positivity. Matt is powerless but to concede that “we got another thing coming undone / and it’s taking us over”, but for once it feels as though there may be an escape, that “swallowing the shine of the sun” might not mark a fiery end to everything as much as a chance for something new to be born from the ashes. 95 16: Terrible Love (from High Violet, 2010) I didn’t realize until after I began putting this list together that I had neglected the original version of Terrible Love in my rankings, as I rarely listen to it. There’s little reason to when the Alternate Version takes all of the instrumental brilliance of the song and amplifies it in a clearer, more resonant mix, so that its climax especially hits harder than ever and the emotional weight of the lyrics are multiplied. In whichever version you prefer, it’s an absolutely incendiary track, opening immediately with gorgeous, billowing guitars, and only expanding from there, as Matt sets the tone of High Violet as something much darker and more volatile than Boxer, a new world where every potential threat looms heavy and lumbering, and the tie that links our narrator and their partner grows more and more tenuous, and dangling over certain oblivion: “I won’t follow you into the rabbit hole… It takes an ocean not to break.” Few National openers are this driving and propulsive, and the crooning backing vocals are like some kind of divine choir ascending and threatening to swallow the track whole as it builds and builds to its ferocious, breathless climax. Structurally, this is one of the most clear and satisfying National tracks, building gradually but thrillingly, with lots of unpredictable and exciting elements (the instrumental pre-chorus ramp up never fails to raise my adrenaline), and ending almost too soon, to the point that it’s easy to have this one on repeat ad infinitum. Surely one of the finest indie rock songs of the decade. 95 15: Bloodbuzz Ohio (from High Violet, 2010) Every so often a band releases a single that instantly has the feel of a future classic, something immediately capturing a musical zeitgeist, destined to be remembered and to be the introduction of many to their world. Bloodbuzz Ohio was not the first big single (big in the indie world, at least) that the band had, but it may be their most ubiquitous, showcasing better than ever Matt’s seductive, emotive baritone, the Dessners’ incredible compositional talent, and the Devendorfs’ outstanding rhythmic complexity. All these elements (in addition, of course, to the inimitable horns peppered all over High Violet) come together in breathtaking fashion to make one of their most outstanding tracks, with some of Matt’s sharpest and most memorable lines destined to be drunkenly howled by fans for years to come: “I still owe money to the money to the money I owe / I never thought about love, when I thought about home.” This is one of a few songs that it’s hard to imagine anyone disliking, even if they find The National’s whole shtick to be insufferable. The sadness is real here, as ever, but not laid on overly thick, and countered by one of their most instantly compelling instrumentals. There was nary a single fan of indie rock who didn’t have this stuck in their head for days on end in the summer of 2010, and it hasn’t lost it’s power since. 95 14: Mistaken For Strangers (from Boxer, 2007) Speaking of instant classic singles: this one might not be as ubiquitous, but it’s every bit as brilliant. It’s the only track on Boxer that completely recreates the brittle intensity that pervaded Alligator (which is completely fine, because the two records very intentionally have different vibes), and the driving rhythm of the surging guitars and run-on sentences make it easy to get swept up in. Seriously, Matt’s intonation of just about every line here is utterly gripping, and the song’s massive feel is compounded coming off the back of the comparatively graceful Fake Empire. Matt’s trademark word repetition is out in full force here, but the lyrics have this sweeping feel to them which carries the listener along from line to line, making it impossible to turn away, and inevitably, making the song feel shorter than it is and highly re-playable. Of course, it’s not just Matt’s cadence and rhythm that make his performance so thrilling here, but his poetry and effortless portrayal of booze-soaked nights and shame-ridden days is so brutally, powerfully conjured: “You get mistaken for strangers by your own friends / When you pass them at night under the silvery, silvery Citibank lights / Arm in arm in arm and eyes and eyes, glazing under / Oh, you wouldn't want an angel watching over you / Surprise, surprise, they wouldn't wanna watch / Another un-innocent, elegant fall into the un-magnificent lives of adults.” 95 13: Abel (from Alligator, 2005) Watching the music video for Abel (and I went a number of years loving Alligator while not knowing this existed), it’s startling now to see Matt so young and so fresh-faced, screaming at the top of his lungs “My mind’s not right!” Even with the precedents of Slipping Husband and especially Available, you would be forgiven for not immediately recognizing this as a National song. It kicks off out the gate with booming drums and roaring guitars, and that visceral, howled, repeated hook. It’s just so fiery, so rough, and so instantly resonant that it’s hard not to instantly fall in love with this aggressive and unkempt style for the band, and ever since I first heard songs like this and Mistaken For Strangers, I’ve longed for them to delve deeper, head-first into more sonically aggressive material (hence my love for Turtleneck), because these songs all show they have the songwriting chops to pull it off. The genuine panic and urgency here (“I’m missing something! Abel, my mind’s gone loose inside the shell!”) feels so real, so gut-punching, that at times this is painful to listen to, even if the band lean more into the aggression of the emotions here as opposed to their desperate anguish. Coming off the back of All the Wine as well, this works brilliantly as a darker side to that song’s confident drunken ego-tripping, as a long night rolls on and on into the early hours and the initial buzz wears off to be replaced by the sinister trappings of reality. 96 12: Where Is Her Head (from I Am Easy to Find, 2019) Though this is structurally bizarre, a constant build-up that crests but never really shifts form in any way, the sheer bravura with which the band pull it off, bringing together a complex and potentially messy set of elements into something that coheres nicely into one of their most gorgeous, soaring songs, is absolutely breathtaking. Lyrically, it may almost feel throwaway upon first listen, but fits perfectly into the narrative of Mike Mills’ film, and works nicely as a midway point in the album, as it transitions from relatively straightforward ballads to more complex, structurally ambitious, and sonically adventurous material. It’s more than just a midpoint though, it’s one of the most kinetic, driving songs of the band’s current era. The vocals of Eve Owen absolutely carry the song, to the point where Matt’s barely missed until his late entry to carry the song to its climax with cries that “I will not come back the same!” On paper, all the elements of this song should not add up to much, nor should they really work all that well together, and yet Where Is Her Head is still one of the most adrenaline-filled and breathtaking songs the band have composed to date, dazzling in the way it takes what would normally be small elements of a much more complex song and blows them up to make something enormous, unwieldy, and utterly thrilling. 96 11: Day I Die (from Sleep Well Beast, 2017) Have the Dessners ever created a riff this anthemic, this massive? It’s so jagged and soaring it could tear a hole in the sky, and it’s just a few repeated chords, anchoring an intense, lumbering beast about the fear that things which are already bad are going to get a whole lot worse as time goes on. Leave it to The National to construct a song so bleak but so instantly addicting and catchy. My absolute favourite part of this song, and one of my favourite sonic touches on any National song ever, is the gorgeous beyond words tone of the guitar in the bridge. I can’t describe the physical reaction I have to that tone, it’s just incredible, and elevates an already instant-classic National song into an all-time favourite song full stop. While it’s easy to become more strongly attached to the older classics like many of the ones I have listed in the last ten or twenty songs, I genuinely believe The National are still getting better, richer, more interesting with each release, and this single exemplifies that in spades. That the band deliberately choose not to realize an album filled with soaring anthems of this ilk is a testament to their versatility, and is ultimately probably wise, because it leaves incredible tracks like this to feel that much sweeter whenever they surface. Also, there is something to be said for the band’s choice of fourth singles – for the last three records, they have been Graceless, this, and Rylan, which are in my opinion among the top three tracks on each of their respective albums; an incidental point, but a fun one all the same. 96 10: Don’t Swallow the Cap (from Trouble Will Find Me, 2013) Who remembers where they were when Don’t Swallow the Cap dropped? I still do, and considering by that point in 2013 High Violet was my favourite record of all time, I was simultaneously trepidatious and absolutely frothing at the mouth to hear the first proper taste of its follow-up. And it did not disappoint. It took a few listens, but I quickly realized Don’t Swallow the Cap was to be a top 10 National song and I must have played it over a hundred times ahead of the release of the album. Even still, six years later, it stands as one of their most brilliant, surging ballads, with multiple classic Berninger-isms (I literally can’t pick even a couple, every line here is just fucking golden) and an insatiably addictive rhythm. My memory for lyrics is notoriously shoddy but this is one of a few songs I can recite front to back without hesitation upon request, and will happily do so whenever asked. If there is anything keeping this from being a 100 rated track, it may be that it fizzles out a little toward the end, but I don’t even hold that against it, because I can listen an infinite number of times and still experience that same massive emotional rush as the first time I heard it. “I’m not alone / I’ll never be / And to the bone / I’m evergreen” are words I would not be unhappy to have on my gravestone. 96 9: Graceless (from Trouble Will Find Me, 2013) After all that hyperbole talking about Don’t Swallow the Cap, there are still two songs on Trouble Will Find Me that I’d rank above it. Though TWFM is not my favourite National record, the fact that three songs from it are in this insanely highly competitive top ten is a testament to the strength of its highs, which are among the best highs of any National record. Graceless, which incidentally has hands down the best music video the band have ever released, is an absolutely massive tune, so bewilderingly big that it could induce vertigo, with thrilling guitar tones that bend skyward and a climax that’s among the band’s most satisfying and spine-chilling. Lyrically, the themes aren’t exactly breaking new ground, but what continues to make Matt’s lyricism so fascinating is not thematic novelty but sheer poeticism. “All of my thoughts of you / Bullets through rotten fruit / Come apart at the seams / Now I know what dying means.” And when Matt begs “let me hear your voice, just let me listen”, it’s one of many emotional peaks on the record. The song is elevated further by its transformative live experience, most memorably immortalized on Saturday Night Live, when Matt had what could have been mistaken for a meltdown at the film’s climax, howling an anguished “Grace!” to devastating effect. On record it’s no less exhilarating, and the way Matt shifts his tone from pleading to declaring as he repeats “Grace” at the beginning of the last chorus is nothing less than jawdropping. A timeless song. 96 8: Rylan (from I Am Easy to Find, 2019) It should be enough for me that Rylan made it to the top ten, but every time I listen to it, it feels like the best thing the band have ever recorded. It’s the ultimate realization of a fan-favourite live track that was desperate for proper recording. Most National fans (myself included) had long worn out the KEXP version, desperate for something crisper that would capture the song’s beauty and urgency. While some were understandably upset that the final version had a few changes (chief complaints that the surging guitars at the song’s climax were lower in the mix than the live version, and that the second verse had been given to Kate Stables), I feel lucky that, even from first listen, I never had any problems with the final version. Yes, it is shorter, and ends more abruptly, but it feels perfect, it feels finished, it ends exactly when it should (even if I wouldn’t complain about a longer version), and absolutely feels like the culmination of years of tinkering. It’s utterly perfect. The sheer atmosphere of its second half, especially, is so overwhelming that it’s hard not to cry listening to it. When the pace picks up with thirty seconds left, it feels like taking flight, and the communal repetition of “Rylan you should try to get some sun / There’s a little bit of hell in everyone” hits a million times harder than ever before. In fact, if anything, the shared vocals here elevate the song for me. I love the way the pace changes with Kate’s verse, then the song breaks down and slides back into focus with booming, theatrical strings. The National have made a lot of massive, arena-sized tracks, but few feel as punchy, concise, and emotive as this. 97 7: So Far So Fast (from I Am Easy to Find, 2019) I listened to the live recordings of this for a long while, on repeat, while working, while writing, while laying in bed, and more often than I’d like to admit, while tearing up. In many ways, I expected that I was setting myself up to be inevitably disappointed by the album version like I was with Walk It Back (which admittedly has grown on me a lot), but I couldn’t help it: the piano melody was just so gorgeous, and the lyrics were incredible. Then, when the record was finally released, I went for a drive with my partner late at night and we soaked it all in for the first time. As wrapped up as I was in every song, I still caught myself from time to time thinking about So Far So Fast, worrying not whether it be as good as the live version (because I’d implicitly ruled that out to protect myself), but just whether I would be a little disappointed or a lot. But, by the time it started, within seconds actually, all of that fell away. Immediately, it was perfect. I knew they had knocked it out of the park. Of course they had. By the time those lyrics with which I was so intimately familiar kicked in, I couldn’t stop myself from bawling. These are the best lyrics Matt has ever written in my opinion, or at least the most personally affecting to me. Every line of every verse is pitch perfect, starkly imagistic but achingly poignant. The final verse, in particular, is my favourite verse in any National song. And, surprise of surprises, the verses are sung not by Matt as I expected, but by Lisa Hannigan, who absolutely knocks it out of the park. Her warm, comforting voice is arguably an even better fit for the words than Matt’s, dare I say. And the instrumental outro, which for some might tease a climax that never arrives, is for me a feast of gorgeous textures and ghostly choral voices, a stunning come-down from an emotionally devastating high. I wouldn’t shorten it by a second. And though many have criticised Mike Mills’ creative input on this record, his encouragement to let the band take this song in such an experimental direction makes me eternally thankful. I’m just so happy this exists. 97 6: All the Wine (from Alligator, 2005) I can’t impress enough how hard it has been to do these last few writeups, because it’s near impossible to explain what I love about these songs while ranking them, without repeating myself or making praise for a lower-ranked track seem redundant. But I have to say, while So Far So Fast has my personal favourite lyrics Matt has written, All the Wine might be the closest to the objective best (even though of course, there can be no ‘objective’ best). The lyricism here is just dazzlingly evocative, magnetic, poetic, disconcerting, and incredibly potent. Matt’s imagery is more surrealistic than ever here, but the internal rhythms of each line are breathtaking in their complexity: “I'm put together beautifully / Big wet bottle in my fist / Big wet rose in my teeth / I'm a perfect piece of ass / Like every Californian / So tall I take over the street / With high-beams shining up my back / A wingspan unbelievable / I'm a festival / I'm a parade”. Matt has penned a number of unforgettable portraits of lumbering drunkenness, but none capture the swaggering egotism that ritualistically accompanies it quite as effectively as here (and it’s nicely contrasted and undercut by the hellish comedown of Abel). The lyricism continues in this manner, but gets better and more, more heated, more self-destructive, until our narrator is forced to reconcile his performative fearlessness with the deep-rooted anxiety underlying it: “I’m in a state / Nothing can touch us, my love.” And this is all to say nothing of the instrumental brilliance of the song, which is amongst the most driving and immediate on Alligator. The guitar tones here, particularly in the chorus, are gorgeous, rippling arpeggios that are insanely pretty, and the way they flow into acoustic guitar on the second verse before that is then overtaken by deep, rich, electric tones, is just pure Dessner mastery. 97 5: Baby, We’ll Be Fine (from Alligator, 2005) Well, here we are, the top five. While much of the list has shifted over the last few weeks, I’m happy to say this top five has remained steadfast, and I can’t see it changing anytime soon. The National are a band that have achieved perfection on so many occasions that tracks that have laid their roots deep in my psyche and that I’ll never forget have still not even made the top five. But here we are, and Baby, We’ll Be Fine is a hell of a song to kick it off. To me, this is the sound of a panic attack, far moreso than other songs which might seem to resemble that more (e.g., Abel, Available). This kicks off out the gate with swirling guitars so immersive you can almost drown in them, and a propulsive beat from Bryan that similarly swirls and envelops, and never lets up throughout the entire song. This, constrasted with the comparatively slow vocal performance Matt gives here, results in one of their most disorienting works, almost Radiohead-esque in tone. Despite all these incredible touches, the most moving instrumental feature might be the haunting strings that moan and weep in the background, rising and falling unpredictably. And then the lyrics. Fucking hell, the lyrics. Matt’s portrait of guilt and self-loathing here is so on-point that it’s unbearable. He mostly foregoes colourful poetic metaphors and imagery for stark evocations of haunting scenes: dreaming of being given almost meaningless validation at work, and desperately begging for his lover to reassure him as he attempts to escape through alcohol despite knowing this will only lead to a messier, uglier breakdown. For a microcosm of the horror of this song, the awful tragedy of the central relationship, a tragedy Matt has long chased after but maybe never captured as vividly as here, just contrast these two lines: “Say ‘Look at me: baby, we’ll be fine. All we gotta do is be brave, and be kind.’ I pull off your jeans and you spill Jack and coke in my collar / I melt like a witch and scream ‘I’m so sorry for everything!’” 98 4: Pink Rabbits (from Trouble Will Find Me, 2013) This has slowly but steadily become a consensus fan favourite, and for good reason. Matt’s balladry is on top form throughout Trouble Will Find Me, but it comes together with the Dessners’ instrumentation so gorgeously here, so hopelessly emotionally, that it’s near-impossible not to instantly become attached. Much like Don’t Swallow the Cap, this is another song I can recite in full on request, and there have been many a drunken night where I’ve hollered it at the top of my lungs, while literally “staring down the street because I was trying not to crack”. For years, Matt has chased after the perfect words to describe the disconnect between two people in a relationship where one clearly needs the other more than they need them, but the bond is so strong that they’re inseparable no matter how harmful that may be for them both in the long run, but that may not have ever been captured as beautifully as here: “I’m so surprised you want to dance with me now / I was just getting used to living life without you around / I’m so surprised you want to dance with me now / You always said I held you way too high off the ground.” And of course, who among us has never been “a television version of a person with a broken heart”? Every line here is an instantly classic Berningerism, a perfect example of the lyricism that makes this band’s songs so powerful. It’s not just lyricism though, of course. Catch the way the music gorgeously but subtly swells as Matt says “Now I only think about Los Angeles when the sound kicks out”, before coming into focus again with an anguished cry: “You said it would be painless!” In many respects, this may be as close to the perfect breakup song as The National have recorded, and one of many examples of incredible penultimate tracks (if you discount Underwater, every penultimate track since Alligator has been comfortably one of the best on the record). Pink Rabbits may be the most perfect penultimate track of them all though, representing the emotional and instrumental climax of a consistently devastating record. 98 3: Conversation 16 (from High Violet, 2010) Though the music video is a close second-favourite of their music videos for me (it’s absolutely hilarious and fits the song perfectly, and why a lot of people seem to dislike it is baffling to me), Conversation 16 is such an incredible, potent song, with such a heartbreaking climax (those backing vocals, oh my GOD), that it can’t adequately be accompanied by anything without outshining it. The song moves from hook to hook, verse to verse, with so many incredible lyrics and ideas packed into it, that it’s easy not to realize that the first iteration of its chorus doesn’t appear until more than two minutes into it (!). Matt’s sweeping portrait of marital malaise is reminiscent of Boxer here, as he vividly pictures dinner parties gone awry, swimming in fountains, and allusions to suicide. The repeated choral refrain “I’m evil!” is as heartbreaking in its simplicity and ruthlessness as “I’m so sorry for everything!” was in Baby, We’ll Be Fine, and Conversation 16 is similarly structured to that song, but manages to pack even more incredible images and lyrical flourishes in to a dense, compelling four minutes. The second verse is a particular standout, with Matt bitterly capturing a marriage in shambles in as direct and uncompromising a fashion as ever: “It’s a Hollywood summer / You’ll never believe the shitty thoughts I think / Meet our friends out for dinner / When I said what I said, I didn’t mean anything.” By the time of the third verse, the narrator’s bitterness abates somewhat and he realizes just how desperately he needs to be with his partner, even if it’s tearing them both apart: “I try to be more romantic / I want to believe in everything you believe […] Fall asleep in your branches / You’re the only thing I ever want anymore.” As usual, it’s a pitiful scenario, but a deeply felt and ultimately relatable one, and even if it isn’t a shared experience all listeners can relate to, Matt composes it so indelibly that it feels instantly, painfully familiar. 99 2: Sorrow (from High Violet, 2010) When The National performed Sorrow for six hours straight as part of Ragnar Kjartansson’s art installation A Lot of Sorrow, you could feel just how wearying and debilitating the experience was for all members of the band, but particularly Matt, who memorably broke down on a couple of occasions near the performance’s end. Whether it was due simply to fatigue, or the cumulative, overwhelming emotional effect of reliving this achingly tragic song so many times, or a mixture of both, we cannot be sure. But as someone who has listened to Sorrow for what legitimately must be at least 500 times, I can confirm that experiencing it, let alone performing it, can be immensely overwhelming at the worst of times. Here, Matt’s portrait of depression is frank, even as sorrow is dressed up in typically poetic metaphors, because at the end of the day, “I don’t wanna get over you.” I said before that Pink Rabbits may be the ideal National breakup song, but the sheer weight of Sorrow’s central line might make it an even stronger contender. This is the absolute perfect song for wallowing in sheer sadness, even as the uplifting and pretty backing vocals and pretty, even hopeful(?) melodic piano in the song’s second half threaten to lift the mood into something brighter. Ultimately, that isn’t what happens; the song is sonically elevated, but it only serves to deepen the impact of its depressive torpor, lending additional gravity to the final repetition of the chorus, which are among the most devastatingly sad lines Matt has ever written: “Don’t leave my hyper heart alone, on the water / Cover me in rag-and-bone sympathy / ‘Cause I don’t wanna get over you.” Sorrow’s greatest strength may be its simplicity, as it establishes a gripping instrumental core and perfect lyricism from its outset, gradually builds upon it, and then ends at the perfect time for a concise, three-minute slice of heartbreak. Many times, for as long as I’ve had even the idea for this list, Sorrow and the #1 song have switched places time and time again, and ultimately depending on my mood a coin flip might be as good as logic in picking which is better, but arguably, The National have never more effectively earned their sad bastard reputation as here, while still demonstrating songwriting abilities that are second-to-none, and leaving nary a dry eye in the house. Fucking bravo. 99 1: The Geese of Beverly Road (from Alligator, 2005) Well, at last, here we are. After 128 songs that range from good to great to spectacular to evading adequate description entirely, here is, in my opinion, The National’s crowning achievement. The Geese of Beverly Road is an absolute jewel of great songwriting, representing the highest emotional climax of the same record that contains Mr November. Perhaps what endears me to Geese moreso than Sorrow or any of the others in the top five is the fact that, though tinged with sadness at its core, it is ultimately an uplifting song, self-aware of the futility and immaturity of the desire to “run like we’re awesome, totally genius”, but embracing it nevertheless, choosing to live forever within a moment of infinite contentment, where “we’re the heirs to the glimmering world.” The childlike goofiness on display here (“our hands are covered in cake but I swear we didn’t have any!”) is unique among Matt’s songwriting, but it just works so well and feels so hard earned after a record full of heartwrenching, tragic songs of bitter nights and shameful mornings. Here a moment of confidence, of happiness, of sheer sweet delight, is captured, and it doesn’t feel ironic, or forced, or doomed to be followed by tragedy. It just feels good. There have to be moments like this in life, even if rarely, or it simply would not be worth living. The Geese of Beverly Road reminds us of the joy and sheer abandon of embracing life, even if for a short time, and even if buoyed by the dizzying effects of alcohol. No matter how we get to the point of feeling that “we’re the heirs to the glimmering world”, what matters is feeling it, living in that moment, savouring its grace and its meaning. Such a feeling is vividly brought to life immediately in the first verse: “We'll take ourselves out in the street and wear the blood in our cheeks / Like red roses / We'll go from car to sleeping car and whisper in their sleeping ears / We were here, we were here”. Instrumentally, this warming and beautiful imagery is supported by an instantly nostalgic and unforgettable melody, and indelible, swirling arpeggios that almost themselves conjure the imagery of swimming late at night, whether in the ocean or inside a glass filled with the sky and a big slice of lemon. That The Geese of Beverly Road is the crowning achievement of a career (so far!) of consistently impressive and inventive songwriting is not to say that the band have never reached its heights again in the many years since, but that they’ve wisely chosen not to chase it again. With each new record they reinvent themselves in some small or large way, managing to keep their sound fresh while still retaining a number of the same elements that have become trademarks to this point. That Geese is so singular, so unique in their discography, is part of what makes it so impactful, so instantly classic, so absolutely their best song. They clearly knew immediately that they had captured something special and chose not to mine for more, but to move on. I’m so glad we have their entire discography thus far, and I’m sure they’ll continue to produce fantastic, inspirational, and unforgettable records, but perhaps above all I am glad this song exists. For as instantly familiar and as nostalgic as it felt the first time I heard it, it’s grown richer and deeper with time as I’ve made my own new memories with it as the soundtrack, my own images within which it is embedded, a continued life with the music of The National scoring faithfully every step of the way. 100
2019.06.06 13:34 arcadefuryRanking All 129 Songs Released by The National: #40-21
Check out #129-101 here. Check out #100-81 here. Check out #80-61 here. Check out #60-41 here. Hey again everyone. Sorry for the delay on this (if anyone was missing it), I've had a lot on at the moment with work, but I'm very keen to finish this and am still enjoying doing these write-ups a great deal. However, that said, the write-ups are getting more and more difficult, especially as their length becomes more and more unwieldy and the limitations of my writing become more and more apparent (I use a lot of the same hyperbolic descriptors as I'm sure you'll have noticed, but it gets even worse from hereon out because I love all these songs so much!). I consider the next forty songs to be perfect pieces of music, so how do you rank perfection? Try not to get too upset if your favourites are here instead of in the top 20, it doesn't mean all that much at this point as everything here is fucking incredible and I'm just so thrilled to be listening to all these songs on a loop as I try - and largely fail - to express into words exactly how I feel about them. Apologies in advance for any typos or grammatical errors. As always, love to hear your feedback :) 40:Apartment Story (from Boxer, 2007) Kicking off the second half of Boxer in style, Apartment Story is another of the band’s best singles and an easy album highlight, with one of their most instantly catchy and loveable choruses. Driven by humming distorted guitar and insistent drumming, the song could have so easily been a lot more bombastic than it is, but its production shows respectable restraint and care for all elements of the song. Not only does the result sound fantastic, the song has maybe the best lyrics on Boxer– in trying to find just one that sums up the song, I was unable to choose. It’s just such a great song, and if anything, I wish it were a little longer, with maybe a breakdown that builds up again to the final chorus. Instead, the band have chosen to maintain the song’s intensity and fast-moving pace from start to finish, and the result is an instant classic that should be on everyone’s ‘Intro to The National’ playlists. 90 39:I Am Easy to Find (from I Am Easy to Find, 2019) One of the biggest Dessner power moves is that, at this point in their careers, they are still able to come up with piano melodies that sound instantly classic and iconic. The new record is filled with melodic progressions that would be the pinnacle of lesser musicians’ careers, and I Am Easy to Find is perhaps the most indelible of them all. From the live recordings this was instantly the catchiest and most heartbreaking of everything they played, and the album recording, while sounding less organic and with a weirdly synthetic and buzzing edge, still carries the same emotional weight, if not more, as the wordless vocalizations that carry out the second half of the song are more moving here than ever. For the last month, I’ve been singing “There’s a million little battles that I’m never gonna win anyway / I’m still waiting for you every night with ticker tape, ticker tape” on a loop, a sure sign of a new classic National ballad. 91 38:90-Mile Water Wall (from Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers, 2003) My God, the strings here absolutely destroy me, and coming off the back of Sad Songs-era lyricism (where Matt pulled no punches) means this is one of the hardest National songs to listen to for me. Every line just cuts, and Matt sounds as scathing and vitriolic as he ever has on record, somehow made even scarier by the calmness of his tone. “I’m just waiting for a 90-mile water wall to take me out of your view / I’m praying for a trapdoor trigger / Yes I’m listening / I can tell you’re serious”. The scars of some ugly emotional battle linger here, as for the third consecutive song on the record Matt sinks into the perspective of a character for whom alcohol is the only relief from a world burdensome and anxiety-inducing with its responsibilities. I still really struggle to listen to this, but I absolutely adore it. 91 37:This Is The Last Time (from Trouble Will Find Me, 2013) I just adore the atmospherics here. Even though this isn’t my absolute favourite on the album, this is probably the song I’d pick if asked how to describe the aesthetics and sound of Trouble Will Find Me-era National. It captures the spacious production, gorgeously simple melodies, and relatively straightforward and understated drumming of this album perfectly, as well as having fantastic lyrics and an unexpected change-up in the second half. The way this slowly and effortlessly builds throughout its first three quarters before falling away into a heavenly outro that itself is gradually absorbed by gorgeous swings and wordless vocalizations – it’s just beautiful beyond description. And also, “I won’t be vacant anymore / I won’t be waiting anymore!” is one of the great Berninger-isms that every fan is practically obliged to sing along to at the top of their voice. It’s pure catharsis. 91 36: Quiet Light (from I Am Easy to Find, 2019) An immediate standout from the new record, Quiet Light is pushed forward by a propulsive beat, gorgeous piano, and Matt at his most tragic, reflecting on the loneliness of (presumably) being on tour, but it could also apply to any situation involving separation from the person you love. The way the song opens up two thirds of the way through into a gorgeous bridge, before eventually falling off into dissonant strings, is an absolutely incredible progression, showing the band at their most ambitious and creative, propelling a song that would have been pure sad balladry on another record like Trouble or Sleep Well Beast, into something downright catchy and completely gripping. Still mystifies me that this wasn’t chosen as a single. 91 35: Available (from Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers, 2003) The sonic and emotional climax of Sad Songs comes just after its midpoint in one of their most aggressive and unfiltered songs ever, completely distorted and roaring from the outset as Matt spits some of the most devastating lyrics on a record whose lyric sheet already reads like a suicide note. Even Abel, a song with a recurring hook that is consistently screamed, isn’t as vocally harrowing as the climax here, as Matt scrapes and bellows at the top of his voice “Why did you dress me down and liquor me up?” and the music rises to a frenetic peak. It’s a fascinating moment of lost control, but also a refusal of self-acceptance for the narrator of the songs so far, whose depression has driven him to, and then been further reinforced by, alcohol. Here he points the finger at some unnamed other for liquoring him up, and the lack of self-awareness here combined with other chilling lyrics such as “did you clean yourself for me last night?” and “do you still feel clean when the only dirt is the dirt I left?” makes for Matt at his most disturbing. 92 34:Not In Kansas (from I Am Easy to Find, 2019) If Matt’s lyricism is your favourite aspect of The National (and for as much as I love it, I have slightly more admiration for the sheer musicianship of the Dessners), then Not In Kansas is like a gift from the heavens. Matt is totally unfiltered here, and even if we may never hear the full 12-minute version, this recording is sprawling enough, a deep dive into Matt’s mind, and an almost stream-of-consciousness recording of barely tethered thoughts unraveling onto the page. When Matt fades into the background for an interpolation of Thinking Fellers’ Noble Experiment led by Gail Ann Dorsey, Lisa Hannigan, and Kate Stables, it’s a fantastically creative thorn in a song whose presence already proves the sheer ambition and creativity on display across this record. For as nitpicky as many fans have (understandably) been about Mike Mills’ interference on this record, this was one creative decision that truly makes this song great, grounding it and giving it structure, as well as increasing its listenability. This will go down as a quintessential and all-time great National song with the passage of time, and it is to the band and to Mills’s credit that the record ended up being as sprawling as it is so that we can have delights such as this buried in its depths. 92 33:The Pull of You (from I Am Easy to Find, 2019) Sometimes I Don’t Think has come a long way, and needless to say, many were unhappy with how it evolved into this more restrained (but still propulsive in parts) and ultimately very different song. Kicked off by one of many hard-hitting Devendorf beats and led by the inimitable Lisa Hannigan, this haunting duet showcases two perspectives of a relationship falling apart but inevitably tethered. “I know I can get attached and then unattached to my own versions of others,” Matt tunefully howls, and I think this line is the key to the song. We all project our own expectations and desires onto others, and invariably end up disappointed over time, but the danger is getting so pulled in, so enveloped by a desire to see someone in a particular light, that you lose sight of yourself and betray self-respect for desperate connection, resulting in alienation and loneliness (“Sometimes I don’t think I’m really around here half the time”). It’s a pessimistic view of relationships, sure (what were you expecting from a National song?), and not a particularly novel view for Matt, but it’s communicated elegantly and powerfully here. If the song is flawed at all, it may be argued that it tries to cram too many different sonic and aesthetic ideas into such a short space of time and perhaps could have benefited from more breathing room, but that would have lessened the impact of its forward-marching pace. The song’s scattered structure, too, feels appropriately reflective of the narrator’s troubled psychological state as the connective thread between him and his partner continues to unravel. 92 32: The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness (from Sleep Well Beast, 2017) What a lead single! If it promised The National’s rock record then ultimately that was not what was delivered, but Sleep Well Beast was every bit worth the interminable wait and this remains an immediate, glowing standout. The record’s night-time mood is immediately established with crooning ooh’s at the opening, before the familiar piano chords and guitar stabs slide into focus, and a propulsive beat is established. By the time Matt first slips into that unforgettable exclamation that all National fans could be heard hollering at the top of their lungs on the record’s tour (“I can’t explain it, aaaaahhh, any other, any other way”), it was clear we had an instant classic single on our hands. And all that’s before we get to that incredible Dessner guitar solo, the energy of an entire album condensed into a gorgeously rich and melodic performance that’s the capstone of a remarkable welcome journey into a darker realm for the band. The album cover and single title confirmed the gloomier tone that makes Sleep Well Beast one of their best night-time driving records, but seldom have they ever sounded as fiery and rip-roaring as here. 92 31: Dark Side of the Gym (from Sleep Well Beast, 2017) Every time I have any doubts about the greatness of Sleep Well Beast (which is honestly not that often), I only need to sink into the incredible deep cuts of this record’s second half to be reminded of how sonically rich and beautiful it is. Beyond the polished cleanliness of Trouble Will Find Me, the troubling, stormy messiness of Sleep Well Beast is an alluring change of pace, and that messiness is perhaps best exemplified here, on yet another fantastic penultimate track (seriously, can we acknowledge for a second how incredible their penultimate album tracks are?), and like Slow Show, one of their most endearing love songs, undeniably destined for a spot on countless wedding playlists. If perhaps striking a more troubling tone lyrically (“I’m gonna keep you in love with me… for a while”), the song immediately establishes itself with a gorgeous, gentle synth melody, before eventually changing key and opening up into something even more beautiful, mysterious, and dreamlike (“I have dreams of anonymous castrati / Singing to us from the trees” is sweetly poetic on the face of it, but also hilariously tongue-in-cheek). An interesting wrinkle in this song is that, despite arguably being one of the most pointedly beautiful things the band have ever composed, it is littered with extraneous noises, bizzare diversions and production choices, and a near cacophonous outro. All of these things threaten to ruin the song, but end up simply adding character and working nicely as looming, threatening edges to the seemingly placid happiness at the song’s centre. Their synthetic vibe is a nice fit for the vibe of the album, and it all flows into the closing track nicely, as that song serves as a more reflective, darker side to the peaceful domesticity pictured here. 92 30: Light Years (from I Am Easy to Find, 2019) This ballad had been a live staple for a while (and a kind of mystifying choice for a second single), and in all its live iterations had never really clicked for me until I finally heard it in the context of the record, as a comedown and closer to one of their densest and most expansive releases. I’ve seen a few people re-organizing and shifting the IAETF tracklist on this subreddit lately, but most of them, which shift Light Years away from the closing position, miss the fact that it is probably the most conclusive, end-of-album song the band have yet recorded. It is a final admission, without caveat, without delusion, without self-pity, that someone is gone, that there is no changing that, and that it is time to start pushing forward and clawing up, out of the dirt, and into the light. As I discussed earlier, it seems like the Dessners have an infinite supply of heartwrenching, incredible piano progressions, and yet this might be the simplest and most effective yet (might!), gorgeously twinkly yet also carrying that tone of finality reflected in Matt’s lyrics. It’s a cathartic but sorrowful admission of loss, and while acknowledging that moving on is important, it doesn’t pretend for a second that it will be pleasant, or easy, or even worth it (“Oh the glory of it all was lost on me / When I saw how hard it’d be to reach you / And I would always be light years / Light years away from you”). 92 29: Secret Meeting (from Alligator, 2005) One of the best songs about the pervasive, debilitating effects of anxiety that the band have written (“I’m sorry I missed you / I had a secret meeting in the basement of my brain / It went the dull and wicked ordinary way” – as someone who experiences anxiety, I have never heard that experience relayed so concisely and poetically as in those lyrics). More than that, though, Secret Meeting is an incredible opener to their richest and most diverse album (apart from, maybe, the new one), kicking out of the gate with a complex yet beguiling melody, introducing the somewhat ramshackle, moody, booze-soaked vibe of Alligator, and exemplifying the massive step forward in songwriting that this record represents from its predecessors, which had a number of very successful experiments but completely lacked cohesion. On Alligator, just about every sonic diversion the band go down works perfectly, and Secret Meeting is perhaps the most deceptively progressive of them all. It’s hard to imagine how a song like this, filled with a number of disparate elements, a barely tangible but immediately satisfying melody, and a climax of distant, near-illegible hollering, comes together as well as it does, but its success largely boils down to that fantastic description of anxiety, its rude intrusion growing more and more overwhelming as the song progresses, that secret meeting spilling from the brain to the page. 92 28: Guilty Party (from Sleep Well Beast, 2017) One of the prettiest of all National songs, Guilty Party opens with a stuttering drum machine and gentle piano and gradually constructs itself piece by piece from there. Matt’s vocals immediately strike a solemn tone, and gentle synths and guitar flourishes gradually ease their way into the mix as Matt paints gorgeous images and then deconstructs them (“Another year gets away / Another summer of love / I don’t know why I care / I miss it every summer”). Eventually staccato horns and swooning strings are introduced into the mix, making for a ballad that is surprisingly eclectic in its colourful arrangement of sonic tones, and all the more emotionally affecting as Matt repeatedly intones one of his most despondent choruses yet: “I say your name / I say I’m sorry…” and so on. The result is one of the densest but most gorgeous pieces of music on the album, a fantastic choice for second single, and a song which is especially rewarding upon repeat listens as all its perfectly placed constituent parts reveal themselves. 93 27: Fake Empire (from Boxer, 2007) Of all the songs that couldn’t make the top 25, this one makes me the most sad, as it was the first song I ever heard from The National, the absolute perfect intro to one of their most gorgeous records and understandably the favourite of a great many fans. Lyrically, in 2007 as now, it feels instantly timeless. “We’re half awake in a fake empire” would be hard to dispute as the best single lyric Matt has ever written, even if I have a number of personal favourites I’d rank above it. It just immediately grounds the band’s music, contextualizes it perfectly (it could be political, it could be personal, it could refer to any kind of awakening or any kind of descent into the ether). In terms of its components, it’s virtually impossible to fault. The opening piano line is arguably the most iconic piece of instrumentation the band have produced and probably will ever produce. It is simultaneously hopeful and solemn, and it hits like a tidal wave. It creates and then anchors one of the most hypnotic and perfectly formed pieces of music of the 2000s, an indie rock ballad a generation can sing along to. My personal favourite part of the song is the little instrumental bridge in the centre before the song opens up completely, where Bryan’s propulsive drumming is gently teased and the piano melody descends gorgeously through this sweet progression, before the main theme comes back again, driven by those chords and that melody, and Matt’s drawl, subdued but effervescent: “Turn the light out, say goodnight / No thinking for a little while.” Just feeling. And a lot of it. 93 26: Mr. November (from Alligator, 2005) What a closer! The National have never ended a record in as fiery a fashion as they do here, with their most propulsive, intense, and emotional banger on a record already driven with urgency. There’s such sadness, and at the same time tremendous pity, in the way Matt opines “I used to be carried in the arms of cheerleaders”. But then, the way the shameful nostalgia of these verses is contrasted with the explosive exclamations of the chorus makes for something that is fresh, surging, and giddily enthralling. “I won’t fuck us over, I won’t fuck us over, I won’t fuck us over, I’m Mr. November!” As deeply sad as the song is at its core, for those few seconds as he screams and Bryan’s drums hammer behind him, you want to believe him, you almost can believe him, you feel he could do anything. The entire record ends on that note, midway through one of those choruses, as if wishing to sustain that energy indefinitely, to let it carry on, incandescent, long after the world of Alligator has ceased to be. It’s an exhilarating ending, and an inspiring one at that. The first time I heard this record, after that ending, I instantly went back to listen to the record again in full. I wanted to stay in that world, I wanted that sheer fire to continue, I wanted anything other than silence because silence had never seemed so wasteful. I’ve been lingering between the notes ever since. 93 25: Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks (from High Violet, 2010) How fortuitous that two of the band’s most conclusive album finishers should end up next to each other on this list. Where Mr. November was propulsive and full of fire, Vanderlyle is wistful and longing, Matt repeating the most wisened and mature adage on a record full of terror and incredulity at the wasteland of middle age: “All the very best of us string ourselves up for love.” It’s a gorgeous and heartfelt admission that love, and the loss that so often results, is not so much a weakness of our character than an inevitability of our desire for connection, our desire to share moments and thoughts with others. After all, that’s why this band exists, and it’s why Matt often speaks and candidly as he does: he has things on his mind, and maybe he’s a bit of an oversharer, but he knows how to express what he’s feeling in a way that makes it feel instantly universal and connectable, even if it’s channelled through a particular middle-class malaise and ennui that may not be instantly familiar to all. “It’s all been forgiven, the swans are a-swimmin’… I’ll explain everything to the geeks,” Matt assures us, and it is unclear whether he means us, who are teasing apart his words and finding volumes within them, or some unknown or even hypothetical listeners, or maybe he’s just putting off explaining something that would cause too much heartache. Here, he lets go, allows himself to float down rising waters, and surrenders to whatever the future may hold. I can’t imagine this record ending on a more beautiful note than that. 93 24: Daughters of the Soho Riots (from Alligator, 2005) My deep love of Alligator is reflected just as fully in its softer deep cuts as its more bombastic standouts, and Daughters is maybe the most slept-on track here, for as great as I think it is compared to the relative lack of mention it gets. I just find this so utterly heartbreaking in such a poignant way. I love the way Matt and the band communicate such sadness here while still keeping the music itself rather mellow and even slightly upbeat in tone, without drawing attention overtly to this dissonance. The lyrics here are timeless too, a number of which would be fantastic choices for National tattoos or lyric banners: “How can anybody know how they got to be this way?”, “Break my arms around the one I love”, “You were right about the end / It didn’t make a difference.” These three lines in particular are among the most poignant in any National song for me, with more relevance to my personal life than I’d like to admit. They read as seemingly universal but also painfully personal in and of themselves, referring to some just-unseen tragedies from which the narrator continues to be affected, even if he has recovered. “You must have known I’d do this some day”, Matt warns, and it’s an instant lump in my throat every time. There is perhaps more sadness and quiet devastation here than on any other song on the record (except for maybe the one that follows it, which we will get to eventually), and I adore every bit of it. 93 23: Lemonworld (from High Violet, 2010) I struggle to express why this one hits me as hard as it does, considering that it’s relatively low-key, melodically subtle, and not especially well-mixed (as has been long observed). Perhaps the story of the struggle this song went through to even reach its final form inspires some kind of sympathetic pity, but I don’t think it’s that; I do genuinely love Lemonworld, and it’s one of my most played songs on its record. Here, Matt balances his typically bizarre imagery (the chorus, but also and especially “Lay me on the table, put flowers in my mouth, and we can say that we invented a summer-lovin’ torture party”) with a heartfelt and deeply sad inner monologue (“See you inside watching swarms on TV / Living and dying in New York, it means nothing to me” and especially “I was a comfortable kid / But I don’t think about it much anymore” are lines that hit so hard I almost felt winded the first few times I heard them, even if on the face of them they may not seem to amount to all that much). For such a simple and dreary song, Lemonworld has a surprising replay value, but all it’s subtle elements, like the low-mixed strings in the final verse, come together beautifully to amount to a song that is as heartwrenching as it is hummably catchy. Bonus points for the final “Losing my breath” being followed by a haunting gasp for air as the song fades out. 93 22: England (from High Violet, 2010) The climax of my favourite National record immediately slides into focus with the second-most iconic chord progression the band have yet composed, and yet another classic lyric announcing the arrival of a timeless ballad: “Someone send a runner through the weather that I’m under for the feeling that I lost today.” The imagery of rain and London are beautifully evoked not just lyrically, but by the song’s epic grandeur and slow-moving sweep. When Matt sings “I’m in a Los Angeles cathedral”, you believe him, as horns croon behind him and thrillingly flare. The National have seldom composed a song like this, that builds slowly but steadily, piling on instrumentation, to an explosive, shouted conclusion where every element of the track is played at its hardest. It was purpose built for soundtracks, clearly, and perhaps its presence in ads and movies has tainted it a bit for some, but for me it still hits as wonderfully and powerfully as the first time I heard it. I remember sitting stunned the first time I heard High Violet, utterly incredulous that the band had crafted a record that moved so bombastically from strength to strength. Alongside Boxer, this is one of the few records they’ve released that has an instant classic vibe, capturing the sound of its time so perfectly and building timeless songs on top of it. England is the well-earned and unforgettable climax to a record that heralded a new decade in spectacular fashion, and will no doubt close it out for me, just as it has soundtracked numerous New Years’ in between. 94 21: I’ll Still Destroy You (from Sleep Well Beast, 2017) For a long while after it was released, this was my favourite song on Sleep Well Beast, and while it may have been since eclipsed, depending on my mood I may go back to choosing it again. It begins in almost alienating fashion with bizarre electronic tones, before the familiar sonic warmth of the band’s world eventually comes flooding in, anchored by a harsh but weirdly beautiful synth and some absolutely outstanding drum work from Bryan. I absiolutely adore the way Matt sings here, the way he stretches out “It’s just the liiiiiiights coming on” in the strangest way that shouldn’t really work but sounds absolutely beautiful. I’ve developed a really strong attachment to this song, to a large extent because it is such an outlier in the band’s catalogue; few of their other tracks sound anything like it, and as a result it feels fresh, invigorating, colourful in a new and more tactile way than anything that has come before. It also builds to one of their most intense and mountainous climaxes ever, with Bryan’s drumming hitting harder than ever, almost like a suppressed breakbeat, and swirling dissonant strings that sound straight out of A Moon Shaped Pool. It’s an absolutely gripping cherry on top of a song that already gives so much more than expected, half an album’s worth of sonic ideas condensed into five brilliant minutes. 94 Check out #20-1 here.
2019.04.09 22:13 hard2nvrmindThe National to play Milwaukee’s Summerfest and very informative and interesting article on the I Am Easy project
The below information discovered on the Summerfest site: Featherless Ideas We Would Hand Back and Forth to Each Other On September 3, 2017, Mike Mills emailed Matt Berninger to introduce himself and in very short order, the most ambitious project of The National’s nearly 20-year career was born and plans for a hard-earned vacation died. The Los Angeles-based filmmaker was coming off his third feature, 20th Century Women, and was interested in working with the band on... something. A video maybe. Berninger, already a fan of Mills’ films, not only agreed to collaborate, he essentially handed over the keys to the band’s creative process. The result is I Am Easy to Find, a 24-minute film by Mills starring Alicia Vikander, and I Am Easy to Find, a 68-minute album by The National. The former is not the video for the latter; the latter is not the soundtrack to the former. The two projects are, as Mills calls them, “Playfully hostile siblings that love to steal from each other” -- they share music and words and DNA and impulses and a vision about what it means to be human in 2019, but don’t necessarily need one another. The movie was composed like a piece of music; the music was assembled like a film, by a film director. The front-man and natural focal point was deliberately and dramatically side-staged in favor of a variety of female voices, nearly all of whom have long been in the group’s orbit. It is unlike anything either artist has ever attempted and also totally in line with how they’ve created for much of their careers. It’s complicated. And also kind of not. “The National is not five dudes,” Berninger says, putting the lie to the photograph accompanying this press kit. “That's kind of been the core, but the truth is, very quickly with Boxer, Carin started writing. Kyle and Ben, who are our brass section, they became very much creative partners, and then Thomas Bartlett, Sufjan Stevens -- the doors have been wide open in terms of people coming in. It’s a big community.” Carin is Carin Besser, Berninger’s wife, who saw her lyric-writing duties increase, but the most drastic change this time was that, for the first time, an outside collaborator has been credited as a creative producer for an entire project. “What felt new was to have an outsider in the middle of the creative process, giving a lot of feedback,” says songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Aaron Dessner. Traditionally he would be the band member charged with assembling a National album’s sundry pieces, and Long Pond, his studio in upstate New York, had become the de facto home base for a band whose members are now scattered across New York, Ohio, California, and France. “He wasn't producing in a traditional sense, it's more like he's been an interrupter -- a subversive force in the middle of everything, and kind of questioning and suggesting and subverting our normal process.” When Mills first reached out to Berninger, The National’s seventh album, Sleep Well Beast, was just coming out, and the band was embarking on a long stint of touring and headlining festivals. “So we talk on the phone, and I was expecting to do a video, and Matt's like, ‘Well we've got all these songs, why don't we do an album, like a film for all the songs,’” Mills recalls. “From the get-go he was like, ‘You can do anything you want,’ which was super generous but very daunting. I don't know shit about music, so it was really interesting that they were so game.” Berninger gave Mills a handful of tracks from the Sleep Well Beast sessions, including what would become “Light Years,” “The Pull of You, and “Quiet Light,” as well as “Rylan,” which dated back a decade. There were no conditions as to what Mills could or not do with the tracks, and he quickly landed on an idea that would be perfect for Vikander and wrote a script with her in mind. The film, which was shot in March 2018, is nothing more and nothing less than an intimate look at one person’s life from birth to (spoiler alert) death, a picaresque succession of subtitled snapshots and fleeting moments big and small that add up to a life -- existential bullet points. “I often play around with condensing a huge thing into a small thing, playing out a telescoping of time,” Mills says. “My favorite art pieces do that. So why not a portrait of someone’s whole life, and Alicia’s so good she could play the whole thing without any aging prosthetics. I grew up with very powerful sisters and a mom, and a gay dad -- I grew up in a matriarchy. I'm used to trying to figure out women, so it's much easier for me to write a female character than a male character.” The further along Mills got, the clearer it became to all involved that more songs would be needed; likewise, the band found themselves newly inspired the more they saw what he was doing and how opening up their process felt liberating. “In filmmaking there is a really broad and inclusive space where artists can really work together in a collaborative way,” says multi-instrumentalist and composer Bryce Dessner. “And so in a way the language Mike was speaking dovetailed pretty quickly with how we functioned.” They wrote and recorded while on tour as they always have. When Berninger sings in a hushed, plaintive voice, there is a very strong chance that’s because the song was written, or even recorded, in a hotel room in Europe somewhere, or within earshot of a sleeping family. But now they were handing these parts to Mills directly to do with as he wished -- moving or even removing them at will. The guitars that had filled “Where Is Her Head” were taken out almost entirely, as were the drums that once anchored “Hey Rosey.” When the tour for Sleep Well Beast ended in October 2018, instead of settling into the customary sanity-preserving year off, The National instead continued writing and recording in earnest. And they had plenty of reinforcements. “It’s a movie about a woman,” says Bryce Dessner, “so shouldn’t there be women’s voices? We're a band that's been largely defined by the sound of one person's voice where suddenly now we're hearing others.” As the album’s opening track, “You Had Your Soul with You,” unfurls, it’s so far, so National: a digitally manipulated guitar line, skittering drums, Berninger’s familiar baritone, mounting tension. Then around the 2:15 mark, the true nature of I Am Easy to Find announces itself: The racket subsides, strings swell, and the voice of longtime David Bowie bandmate Gail Ann Dorsey booms out -- not as background vocals, not as a hook, but to take over the song. Elsewhere it’s Irish singer-songwriter Lisa Hannigan or Eve Owen, or Sharon Van Etten, or Mina Tindle or Kate Stables of This is the Kit, or varying combinations of them. The Brooklyn Youth Choir, whom Bryce Dessner had worked with before. There are choral arrangements and strings on nearly every track, largely put together by Bryce in Paris -- not a negation of the band’s dramatic tendencies, but a redistribution of them. “It's stuff we've never done before,” says drummer Bryan Devendorf. “It’s a step outside the rah-rah-rah.” The presence of female voices isn’t meant to give equal time along gender lines in an effort to express allyship or explore the band’s feminine side or parrot Vikander’s character’s inner life so much as it is meant to reinforce the idea that this isn’t about any one particular person at all. And it was important from the outset that this not feel like a woman’s vantage point as portrayed by men. “I trusted the hands we were in,” says Besser, “and when I saw what Mike was doing, I thought, well, one of the things art does is show us how to look at each other. Also, the compression, that way of squeezing so much into a shorter space, plus the sort of list of events, to me is really emphasizing the universality.” “Yes, there are a lot of women singing on this, but it wasn't because, ‘Oh, let's have more women's voices,’ says Berninger. “It was more, ‘Let's have more of a fabric of people's identities.’ It would have been better to have had other male singers, but my ego wouldn't let that happen.” Beyond the roster of singers, the music itself is emblematic of an expanded worldview. “We're known for being a band that makes songs that build up to this big ta-da and then go away,” says bassist Scott Devendorf. “Making it more fluid and open-ended and not this grand statement all the time, there's more intricacies and more space in the music. To me, it’s not more feminine in any way necessarily, but about having a different perspective and not just having guitars chug along.” The track that may most closely mirror Mills’ film in structure and substance is its sparsest and arguably most personal. “Not in Kansas” showcases Berninger hushed and in repose, reciting objects in his peripheral vision and flashes of memories -- not exactly stream of consciousness but a list of art and artists and loved ones that may seem minor or scattershot on their own but together comprise a whole life of experience and curiosity. (Berninger claims the original version he handed to Mills contained lyrics about almost everyone he’s ever known, including his massage therapist and an Uber driver). And while it is certainly autobiographical -- the book on artist Hanne Darboven was in his bedroom, he really was going through an R.E.M. and Roberta Flack phase, his dad really did suffer a spiral fracture while ice skating -- the reflection is part and parcel with both the film and album’s mission to figure out what, exactly, makes a person, and moreover, how the intensity of the current moment is forcing everyone to think about big ideas more acutely, to process chaos, to understand the stakes. “I'm pretty much just pulling apart the same onion and every album gets a little closer to the center,” Berninger says. “Sleep Well Beast was a dive into our marriage in some ways, but if that was a three-foot diving board, this one feels like a cliff dive into not just marriage, but identity. I don't know if we're any closer to the center of the onion, but I feel like I understand the onion a little better, and I feel better about the onion. I know that I am my dad, my mom, my daughter, my wife, my band, my friends, my grandmother, the guy who cut me off in traffic, the guy who didn't cut me off in traffic. I am those experiences. I am those influences. This is just an aging bucket. All these records, and all these things, are my afterlife already.” As far as where The National goes from here, Aaron Dessner thinks the effect Mills has had on the band’s process is indelible. “He said he often throws away a statement scene in a movie because he realizes that the actual sum of it's gonna be more interesting,” he says. “I think it was an important lesson to realize that you can let go of the thing that you wrote, that you're so attached to, that you think is the bird in hand, or the critical seed of something. A lot of times in the past, we never finished records until we would basically run out of time. So, in this process, we weren't holding onto anything. We were in fact throwing away a lot of what, in the past, might have been considered hit songs, or safe bets, or whatever. Next time I sit down and write National music, I think I'll have a different perspective.” Until then, The National has to figure out how to translate all this to a stage; they ostensibly would love to bring all the singers with them, but that will be logistically impossible. This is a good problem, and one they could barely imagine having just a few months ago. “It's purposefully an organic, ungainly, two-headed thing and that's what excited all of us,” says Mills. “We didn't know where it was going, and we didn't know what it was going to be.” Matt Berninger is even more succinct in his reappraisal. “These were featherless ideas we would hand back and forth to each other and people would put some feathers in it,” he says, “and at the end it was a turkey.” I Am Easy to Find was produced by Mike Mills and The National at Long Pond, Hudson Valley, NY.
2016.08.19 18:52 giraffekingNew Music Friday: August 19th, 2016
New Music Friday is a new weekly thread dedicated to chronicling all the Album/EP releases coming out this week. This is also a great place to discuss these albums, or bring to our attention other albums released this week. Please check the comments for more releases, users do a great job of finding deep cuts that get little to no press attention. Last Weeks Releases Crystal Castles - AMNESTY (I) First album without Alice Glass and with new singer Edith Frances Label: Last Gang, Casablanca, Fiction Genre: Synthpop, Electro-Industrial, Synthpunk AJJ (fka Andrew Jackson Jihad) - The Bible 2 Label: SideOneDummy Genre: Folk Punk, Anti Folk, Indie Rock Ryley Walker - Golden Sings That Have Been Sung Label: Dead Oceans Genre: SingeSongwriter, Chamber Folk Tobacco (of Black Moth Super Rainbow) - Sweatbox Dynasty Label: Ghostly International Genre: Indietronica, Wonky Gonjasufi - Callus Label: Warp Genre: Psychedelic Soul, Electronic, Experimental Hip Hop Factory Floor - 25 25 Label: DFA Genre: Minimal Wave, Tech House Slow Club - One Day All of This Won’t Matter Any More Label: Moshi Moshi Genre: Indie Folk, Folk Pop Lydia Loveless - Real Label: Bloodshot Genre: Alt-Country DJ Earl - Open Your Eyes Oneohtrix Point Never oversaw and mixed the album, and is featured on three tracks Label: Teklife Genre: Footwork, Juke Scott Walker - The Childhood of a Leader (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) Orchestral soundtrack to the Brady Corbet Film Label: 4AD Genre: Film Score Roosevelt - Roosevelt Label: City Slang, Greco-Roman Genre: Dance Pop, Synthpop Exploded View - Exploded View Label: Sacred Bones Genre: Indie Pop, Indie Rock Myrkur - Mausoleum Live EP Label: Relapse Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal Pill - Convenience Label: Mexican Summer Genre: Art Punk, No Wave Lisa Hannigan - At Swim Label: ATO Genre: Indie Folk, SingeSongwriter Alex Cameron - Jumping the Shark Label: Secretly Canadian Genre: Art Pop, Synthpop Blood Incantation - Starspawn Label: Dark Descent Genre: Death Metal Chris Staples - Golden Age Label: Barsuk Genre: SingeSongwriter Tory Lanez - I Told You Label: Mad Love, Interscope Genre: Alternative R&B, The Biggest Ting out of Toronto (That’s where Drake is From!) Ed Harcourt -Furnaces Label: Polydor Genre: SingeSongwriter. Indie Pop French Montana - MC4 Label: Bad Boy, Epic Genre: Trap Rap, East Coast Hip Hop Skeletonwitch - The Apothic Gloom EP Label: Prosthetic Genre: Thrash Metal Pascal Pinon - Sundur Label: Morr Genre: Indie Folk Peter Broderick - Partners Label: Erased Tapes Genre: Modern Classical Ages and Ages - Something to Ruin Label: Partisan Genre: Indie Pop Cool Ghouls - Animal Races (nsfw cover) Label: Empty Cellar Genre: Garage Rock Nipsey Hussle - Slauson Boy 2 Mixtape Label: All Money In Genre: West Coast Hip Hop, Gangsta Rap Dolly Parton - Pure & Simple Label: Sony Genre: Contemporary Country Kiefer Sutherland - Down in a Hole Label: Warner Bros. Genre: Country Rock Kye Dixion & Michael Stein - Stranger Things, Vol. 2 (A Netflix Original Series Soundtrack) Label: Lakeshore Genre: Synthwave, TV Soundtrack Frank Ocean - Endless Visual Album (Apple Music Exclusive) Label: Def Jam, Fresh Produce Genre: Alternative R&B, Neo-Soul might happen Frank Ocean - Boys Don't Cry (Apple Music Exclusive?) Label: Def Jam Genre: Alternative R&B, Consumer Electronics Magazine
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