April 03, 2005

The National - 'Alligator'

Matt Berninger (seated left) and his band mates are mining dark territory. There are things going on beneath the surface of everyday lives and The National drags them into their musical light; like a kid dragging his feet in the beach sand, stirring up tiny, sharp twigs... just waiting for a pale, soft unsuspecting foot.

Formed in Cincinnati, Ohio, the band consists of two pairs of brothers playing in and around Berninger's vocals -- Aaron Dessner (guitars, bass) and Bryce Dessner (guitar), Scott Devendorf (guitar; bass) and Bryan Devendorf (drums). With two full-length albums (2001's s/t The National / 2003's Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers) and 2004's critically acclaimed Cherry Tree ep, Alligator (beggars banquet), will mark a welcome return to the long player format for fans. Set to be released April 12th, Alligator will be a great opportunity for the uninitiated to discover their music and Berninger's talented lyrical twist. He also possesses a baritone of dark timbre, not unlike Tindersticks Stuart Staples, but wholly American -- Staples oozes British gloom, he drips with a hollow, morose charm that has been left to age in a cold, dark, stonewalled cellar; whereas Berninger, who may also sing to you from shadows, from the dark, is equal parts foreboding and charm -- Staples floats in on a creepy sadness and Berninger strides in, with some sadness, yes, but also horny and ready and willing to kick some ass.


On Alligator you will find the song, "All The Wine", led by guitars chiming and softly twanging, then the drums step in, knocking the singer out of his chair to tell us "... i'm put together beautifully... i'm a perfect piece of ass, like every Californian... so tall i take over the street, with high beams shining at my back... a wing span unbelievable, i'm a festival, i'm a parade.... and all the wine is all for me...". One of the best lines in the song is "... i'm a birthday candle in a circle of black girls...".

all the wine
courtesy salon.com's audiofile

"Wasp Nest" is the lead off track from The National's 7 song EP entitled Cherry Tree (Brassland US - Talitres EU). The song opens with a ringing buzz of bells, the way wasps would buzz above your sleepy head, hidden in thick green leaves wrapped about dark branches - as you awaken on a summer afternoon. When The National's Matt Berninger begins to sing, he sounds the way you do once or twice a year when you're nursing a cold and the Benylin begins to wear off - the way you wish your voice would stay, but without the sore throat, the runny nose, you know... you've been there. It's a sonorous voice, quietly strong and confident, a voice that walks softly, but carries a big stick. Let me give you a bit of advice, let him hit you with that stick - let him beat you about the skull with it. It won't hurt... trust me.

wasp nest
mp3 courtesy of the national

from earlier recordings...
cold girl fever
murder me rachael
mp3s courtesy of the national

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