and there's few things more loved by me than the National

>> Friday, January 29, 2010

You may have picked up on the reference to a stellar Brooklyn via Cincinnati band in the title of this blog. And if you haven’t? Then, my friend, it is high time you got into the National.

That is Matt up front. No ring at the time of this picture but trust me, ladies, he is taken.
The thing is, I don’t understand why this band is not more popular. Unlike many other indie-rock bands, there’s no gimmick or anything weird going on here. This is not music that requires a ridiculous new genre name to describe it (I’m looking at you, glo-fi / chillwave). Their sound is positively (not negatively) mainstream – five guys, a couple of guitars, and some drums. Sometimes strings and horns, too. I am having the worst time thinking of other bands they sound like but I don’t think that matters much, anyway. They sound intelligent, thoughtful, confused, drunk, moody, wry, self-deprecating, witty, and wise. Oh, and unpretentious. If I wrote songs this is how I’d want them to sound. Although - and it might just be my female perspective here - they also sound very masculine. I mean that in a very good way.
I first heard the National when a friend passed along their third LP, Alligator, in the summer of 2005. His comment was something like “here, you might like this. I’ve been listening to it for a couple of days and can’t figure out if I like it or not”. Summer 2005 was, if you recall, when people like the Go! Team (remember them?) and Devendra Banhart were making waves. People were really into some chick called M.I.A. Even though it was also the year of Sufjan and Arcade Fire, it felt like everything had gotten bright and poppy and weird. Which made the National an oddity. They sounded so accessible and - dare I say it - a little boring by comparison. Anyone giving Alligator a quick listen might conclude that it sounded nice but there wasn’t much there. And they would be very, very wrong (as many critics were at the time). My friend and I never did form a final opinion on the subject but we did notice that, months later, we were both still listening to the album regularly. Every few weeks I had a new favourite song. Some people call this a slow burn. I think it means that the guys in the band put a lot more effort into that record than most realized and that we were looking for the wrong things. Even still, when I found out there would be a new record, 2007’s Boxer, I surprised myself with how unbelievably excited I was.
Since then the band has achieved fame and glory (um, the indie version, anyway) and I think of them as something of a pillar in the indie rock community. That’s my youth showing, I guess – four albums makes you a pillar in my book. But tell me who else but the Dessner twins could have curated a charity compilation as solid as Dark Was the Night? The Springsteen mark of approval doesn’t hurt, either.
More things about the National (some disguised as facts about me):
  • This post is timely (if you ignore that it’s about 5 years late) because the National are playing Massey Hall on June 8. The fact that this show will likely sell out and another will be added makes my earlier comment about them being not well-known sound like lunacy. But I’ll let it stand.
  • More good news: the band has a new album due out this May. Pitchfork recently interviewed lead singer Matt Berninger about that.
  • For the last several months I have been thinking that, if I have one, my wedding song will be Lucky You. Before that I thought it could be Slow Show. Apologies to any potential future husband(s). Feel free to name the kids.
  • Magnet did an Over/Under on the National a while back. To help you get into things / feel badly about the songs you do like (god don't you just hate music snobs??)


there's few things more loved in Alabama than football and the men who know how to win at it

>> Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Fun fact: lately I am into football. Alright, I realize the original "if Sandra Bullock can figure it out then so can I" justification sounds like weak motivation (TO YOU), but it turns out there are a lot of things I genuinely enjoy about it. To name a few:
  1. Strategy - there is pure talent, yes, but so much more going on. Plays, special teams, highly specialized's like a science. I like science.
  2. I used to play rugby, so it turns out I understand a lot more about the game than I realized.
  3. The Southern thing (see post title).
  4. Is it just me, or are the best sports movies about football?
  5. Trick plays, fumbles, anything can happen!
  6. So many rules = speaking in a different language once you learn them. Fun.
  7. Is there another sport where people actively care about the game not only at the national level, but also at the college AND high school levels? Wondrous.

Mark Wahlberg, as Vincent Papale, picks up a fumble and shows his ex-wife what's what in Invincible

Race relations. That scene at Gettysburg. Friday night lights on the high school field. Surprise appearance by Ryan Gosling. Who doesn't love Remember the Titans?

So that's my current take on football and the culture that surrounds it. I actually like that there is so much to learn and understand about it. The barriers to entry are high, but the rewards are great.

Plus, if Sandra Bullock can do it, then so can I.

p.s. note her man-sized watch here. Key accessory. I need one, stat.


can I get a witness?

>> Sunday, January 17, 2010

This is a post about some upcoming shows that should be good. I'm almost certainly going to the ones with asterisks. Will be picking up tickets this week so let me know if you want to join me for some 50s, fist-pumping sweaty crowds (/ black-clad emo teens / arty-looking hipsters), and rock n roll.


13 - Constantines, Polish Combatant's Hall ($20)*
16 - Editors + the Antlers, Phoenix ($25)
16 - Joe Pernice, Dakota ($20.50)
26 - Fucked Up + Kurt Vile, Opera House ($17.50)
26 - Rogue Wave, Mod Club ($15)
10, 17, 24 - Gentleman Reg, Drake ($10)


3 - Justin Townes Earle, Horseshoe ($13.50)
9 - Foreign Born, El Mocambo ($12.50)
14 - Woods + Real Estate, Horseshoe ($13.50)
20 - Cuff the Duke, Lee's Palace ($15)*
29 - Spoon, Sound Academy ($26)*
30 - Beach House, Opera House ($14)


3 - Japandroids + Love is All, Horseshoe ($12)*
4 - The xx + jj, Phoenix ($20)*
7 - Wolf Parade, Phoenix
8 - Owen Pallett, Queen Elizabeth Theatre ($27.50)
9 - Fanfarlo, Lee's
10 - Florence and the Machine, Phoenix

and Vampire Weekend is sold out, again. Is anyone surprised? I'm glad I caught them at the 'shoe the last time around. hype hype hype.

Check a real music blog for more and better info, because god knows I will not be consistent with these posts.


get set

this blog is about to become useful. That's right!



>> Sunday, January 10, 2010

January is cervical cancer awareness month. Send an e-card! Or don't. I don't really care. But these ones are funny.


About This Blog

this here ma blog.

I like to talk about things I have no particular expertise in. Especially music.

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