You know how you have those friends who when they recommend something, books, music or whatever, you make it a point to follow up?
Well, my friend Josh is one of those people. And a few months ago he sent me a short email from New York City where he was living at the time: Check this band out. They're called The National, I think you'll like them.
So I downloaded a few songs to my Ipod. Not long afterwards, a song came on my stereo as I was driving along Davis Boulevard with the Ipod on shuffle.
A deep male voice singing something about "a secret meeting in the basement of my brain." And this guy was singing, really singing, over a strangely melodic guitar and a driving, slightly off-kilter beat.
Quickly I glanced at the screen on the Ipod:
Hey it's that band Josh was telling me about. I like this. So I queued up another track off their third and latest album, the 2005 release Alligator.
The Brooklyn-based, Cincinnati-bred quintet's music has this haunting quality that sticks with you for the whole day. Kind of a Midwestern creativity meets New York energy thing going on. A hard rock sound that you can't put your finger on. You could rightly compare them to other New York bands like The Walkmen or Interpol, but that doesn't quite do it.
"Abel, c'mon give me the keys man" begins lead singer Matt Berninger, in the album's tenth track "Abel". "Everything has gone all down wrong." Not stuff you hear every day.
Intrigued, I checked out some songs from the band's sophomore effort, the 2003 release Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers. And they were just as good or better than what I'd already heard.
Slowing the tempo down to nice effect in the song "It Never Happened"
And Berninger's lyrics really take the music to the next level. Songs about ambiguity. Real moments in life. Telling a girlfriend accusingly, "you just made yourself available."
Interesting stuff. Good stuff.
So, hey Josh, thanks man. And to everyone out there, check out the National sometime.