For the first few years that I was aware of The National’s existence, I constantly confused their music with that of Editors. So much so, that when I attended an Editors show in early 2008, I was a little bummed they didn’t play my favorite song. It wasn’t until a couple months later that I realized the song I was hoping for was actually by The National.
The song, by the way, is “The Apartment Story”, the second single off the band’s fourth album, Boxer.
My favorite part of the song is very brief and comes twice in the below video at the 2:50 and 3:15 marks.
Despite considering myself a big fan of The National, I didn’t realize until now that they have released five full-length albums, dating back to 2001’s self-titled debut. I was first introduced to them in 2007 with Boxer and later picked up a copy of the equally solid Alligator (2005). They also put out Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers in 2003 and just released High Violet a couple weeks ago.
Maybe my lack of knowledge is not that big of a surprise, considering The National has to be the best band out there that so few people seem to know about. I realize that their albums have received a ton of critical acclaim throughout the years and they’ve had their share of sold-out shows, but I rarely hear anyone talking about them in the way they might about such indie buzz bands as Vampire Weekend, Editors or Modest Mouse.
In fact, the most publicity the group has received in the past few years was when brothers Aaron and Bryce Dessner — two-fifths of the Brooklyn-based group — helped coordinate the Dark Was the Night charity compilation album, which was released in February 2009.
As for the band’s sound, aside from the obvious Editors comparison — and Interpol, while we’re at it — the group’s influences range from Joy Division to Bruce Springsteen — at least according to Wikipedia. I’m not sure how apt The Boss comparison is, but Joy Division is spot-on.
My favorite songs all come from Boxer — including “Fake Empire”, “Start a War”, “Mistaken For Strangers” and the aforementioned “Apartment Story”.
High Violet, on the other hand, is solid throughout but doesn’t seem to have any standout tracks. It has spawned two singles so far — “Bloodbuzz Ohio” and “Anyone’s Ghost”, both of which I gave 2 stars on my iTunes rating.
With any luck, a spot on this year’s Lollapalooza bill will help create even more fans for this most-deserving band.