Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Half Awake in a Fake Empire

I don’t normally get into the business of recommending music here but I’m going to make an exception. I’m not entirely dead to new music, but since I quit staying up late writing about pint-swilling, rock-and-roll bands at all hours of night, I tend not to sponge up new creativity the way I used to.

That said, I’ve had the Brooklyn-based band The National on heavy rotation for weeks now. Their latest album, The Boxer, is a very weird amalgamation of straight-up musicianship, anchored by Matt Berninger’s offbeat bass voice, thrust upon deeply inventive stories of murder, lust, and madness. It’s music to write stories by.

You can listen to some essential tracks at the band’s Myspace site. Try “Fake Empire,” which starts as an idyllic excursion, layers in a peculiar backbeat that diverges wildly from the original melody, draws all the elements together again, and then descends into a Velvet-esque cacophony.

Bask in the elegance of a line like “You get mistaken for strangers by your own friends,” a lyric that could inspire a tale of furtive romance all by itself.

That’s without even getting into the back catalog, with songs like “Murder Me Rachael,” a relatively simple, repetitive pop song with some very sinister lyrics. “I saw my love with pretty boy, so say goodbye to pretty boy… murder me, Rachael I made a mistake, I loved her to ribbons.”

And the lovely, romantic ode to romance that is “Karen.”

Karen, put me in a chair, fuck me and make me a drink

I've lost direction, and I'm past my peak

I'm telling you this isn't me

No, this isn't me

Karen, believe me, you just haven't seen my good side yet

You can also try the band live at Radiolibre, delve deeper in the madness with an interview at Sixeyes, or check out an article on the band article in the latest issue of Rolling Stone.


amy said...

Nice write-up. Just discovered them myself, so thanks for all of the links~

geecee said...

They've been on heavy repeat here too, coincidentally. NPR is going to be streaming their show from the 9:30 tomorrow night.

devin tomaney said...

I'm a huge fan of alligator. It's really something else. I'm enjoying boxer too.... I'm going to go enjoy it again right now.