Thursday, September 12, 2013

The National

A few weeks ago I had mentioned that I was listening to the band The National regularly. I owned a couple of songs by them that were on constant repeat. Since that time, those couple songs have been joined by a lot more and I have become officially obsessed with the band. I have gone back through all of the bands earlier albums (they have 8) to listen to their older material. I have watched hundreds of videos of their songs. I've sought out articles on them. A full 10% of my main playlist is now made up of National songs. Seriously I'm thinking I'll need a twelve-step program soon.

 From the Sea of Love video (read about its origins here)

And this is not typical for me. While I quickly become obsessed with authors and artists, music is generally not something I've become infatuated with. This is the first time in my life that I can point to each member of any band and tell you their names. Even with really ultra famous bands I can't do it. But I can list each member of The National and what instrument/role they play. Of course it helps that they are a band of brothers. Aaron and Bryce Dessner are the twins who both play guitar. Normally they are up front and center with the lead singer. Scott Devendorf plays bass and often stands near to his brother Bryan Devendorf who plays drums. The only band member to not have a brother in the band is Matt Berninger, the baritone voiced lead singer.

Aaron, Scott, Matt, Bryan, and Bryce

The band members all grew up in Cinncinati but didn't really start playing music together seriously until they all moved to Brooklyn for various jobs. Most of their early work is about working in white collar jobs and hating it. It wasn't until after their breakout album Boxer that they were able to think about quitting and going into music full time. Aaron and Bryce are heavily involved in the music scene outside of the band and have even curated music festivals. Bryce, who is a classical guitarist as well and who I have a bit of crush on, has worked as a composer creating his own orchestral and classical pieces.

Some people have called the bands songs melancholy or morose but I actually find them very uplifting. There is a catharsis in hearing them that brings me back to songs again and again. Most of the lyrics are about tough times, heartbreaks, and sadness, but I often find myself happy while singing along. Poor Jeff has heard nothing but snatches of National lyrics from me in months. Luckily he's come to enjoy their music too, although he hasn't been bit with the same obsession. But the songs just pull me in. They are catchy songs that grow on me each time I hear them.

I have tickets to see them live for the first time in October in Kansas City. It's the only thing I want for my birthday. Having seen videos of their live performances, I can't wait to see them in person. Until then I'll see if there are any songs that I've managed to miss from their older albums and try not to drive Jeff too crazy.

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