Posts Tagged ‘The National’

The National's Bryan Devendorf. Credit: Graham MacIndoe

Although The National are not slated to be releasing music in 2020, the members have been keeping more than busy. Aaron Dessner has worked with Taylor Swift on Folklore, Matt Berninger has a new solo album out in October, and now the band’s drummer Bryan Devendorf has released his debut solo album under the name Royal Green. The album takes on a more electronic, experimental approach, and features contributions from Aaron Dessner and Muzz’s Josh Kaufman. The eight-song effort showcases Devendorf’s individual strength as a songwriter, with each track containing multitudes of instrumental and lyrical depth.

Considering that The National are taking some time off, you’ve probably seen their name mentioned a lot lately – what with frontman Matt Berninger‘s anticipated solo record and guitarist Aaron Dessner having a big hand in Taylor Swift‘s latest release, drummer Bryan Devendorf arrives with the surprise release of his new project Royal Green, but he’s not here for any headlines or glory!

“I’m trying to keep it low-key,” before the record is due to drop. “I’m just the drummer checking in!”. The self-titled album consists of four originals and three covers of the likes of The Beatles, Bob Dylan and Fleetwood Mac. The lyrics were written by a friend, and I adapted them. I definitely relate to them. It’s quite introspective. It’s trying to not take itself too seriously, but be serious about it! There’s a nostalgia theme to the whole album. I’m taking stock of my life and memories and putting them to song.” ‘Dreams’ by Fleetwood Mac is one of those songs I heard on the radio when I was three or four. It blew me away – her voice, the drumming, it was all so appealing. As for The Beatles song, well, all my life I’ve been accosted by people saying, ‘Hey man – you look like John Lennon!’ I liked The Beatles as a kid and thought this song was cool so I set it to different chords. The Dylan song reminds me of a transitional time in my life when I was trying to develop a more permanent relationship with my current spouse.”

Royal Green, the debut album from Bryan Devendorf (The National, LNZNDRF) with sound designer Nate Martinez.

matt berninger

The National frontman Matt Berninger has promised his first solo LP for 2020. ‘Serpentine Prison’ it was produced and arranged by Booker T. Jones, with plenty of guest appearances lined up too. “More about it soon,” Berninger told fans on social media in October 2019, “but basically I’m the luckiest man in the universe with lots of brilliant friends who can play instermints [sic].”

For his proper solo debut, the National frontman teamed up with legendary producer and keyboardist Booker T. Jones for a stately set of mid-tempo ballads. Featuring contributions from everyone from Andrew Bird to Mickey Raphael, the album promises to be closer to typically sparse singer-songwriter fare than Berninger’s past solo detours (see his dancey 2015 collaborative record Return to the Moon, recorded with Brent Knopf under the moniker El Vy). On the title track, Berninger has said he dug “back into my own garbage” after focusing on writing from more character-based perspectives on the National’s 2019 album I Am Easy to Find. Expect more middle-aged ennui on this batch of introspective musings, like early highlight “Distant Axis,” a co-write with Walter Martin of the Walkmen that Berninger has described as being about “falling out of touch with someone or something you once thought would be there forever.”

Berninger shared a new track “One More Second” from his upcoming debut solo record Serpentine Prison, out on October. 16 via Book’s Records. The single follows the release of the album’s title track and “Distant Axis.” “I wrote ‘One More Second’ with Matt Sheehy with the intention for it to be a kind of answer to Dolly Parton’s ‘I Will Always Love You,’ or sort of the other side of that conversation,” Berninger says. “I just wanted to write one of those classic, simple, desperate love songs that sound great in your car.”

Release date: October 16th

It’s not yet known if Berninger’s collaboration with Phoebe Bridgers, ‘Walking on a String’, will appear on the record, but it’s the first full non-National venture from the singer, who previously collaborated with Melomena’s Brent Knopf on 2015’s EL VY album.

The National’s Matt Berninger has shared the title track of his debut solo album, “Serpentine Prison”, along with the single art. The record is out October 2nd via Book Records—a new imprint from Berninger and Booker T. Jones in conjunction with Concord.

The video was directed, shot, and edited by Tom Berninger and Chris Sgroi. Berninger announced Serpentine Prison last year, revealing it would be produced by the keys-playing leader of iconic Memphis soul outfit (and longtime Stax house band) Booker T. & the M.G.’s. In recent months, Berninger has teamed with Phoebe Bridgers for “Walking on a String” and “7 O’Clock News/ Silent Night.” He’s also covered Mercury Rev’s “Holes” and Big Thief’s “Not.”

The song Serpentine Prison was written in December 2018 about a week after recording The National’s I Am Easy to Find. For a long time I had been writing songs for movies and musicals and other projects where I needed to get inside someone else’s head and convey another person’s feelings. I liked doing that but I was ready to dig back into my own garbage and this was the first thing that came out.

The title is from a twisting sewer pipe that drains into the ocean near LAX. There’s a cage on the pipe to keep people from climbing out to sea. I worked on the song with Sean O’Brien and Harrison Whitford and recorded it about six months later with Booker T. Jones producing. It feels like an epilogue so I named the record after it and put it last.

 

The album features contributions from a wide array of notable artists, including Matt Barrick (The Walkmen, Jonathan Fire*Eater), Andrew Bird, Mike Brewer, Hayden Desser, Scott Devendorf (The National), Gail Ann Dorsey (David Bowie, Lenny Kravitz), Booker T. Jones, Teddy Jones, Brent Knopf (EL VY, Menomena), Ben Lanz (The National, Beirut), Walter Martin (The Walkmen, Jonathan Fire*Eater), Sean O’Brien, Mickey Raphael (Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan), Kyle Resnick (The National, Beirut), Matt Sheehy (EL VY, Lost Lander) and Harrison Whitford (Phoebe Bridgers).

The official music video for “Serpentine Prison”, the title track from Matt Berninger’s debut solo record. Produced by Booker T. Jones, the album will be released via Book Records in conjunction with Concord Records on October 2nd.

National Fixed for Real

High Violet is one of those albums that exists as both a showcase of new music and an event. For The National, High Violet represented some sort of promise fulfilled. Just a year after Grizzly Bear’s Veckatimest, Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion, and Dirty Projectors’ Bitte Orca, the National became another indie act made good. Brooklyn was booming, and the band consisting of a wine-guzzling midwestern Leonard Cohen, two brothers plucked from guitar-nerd heaven, and two more brothers using the Grateful Dead and good vibes as the chief inspiration for the rhythm section, somehow became one of the most captivating acts in the nation.

Like seemingly every National record, High Violet begins with an absolute bang. “Terrible Love” is an all-time album opener, and perhaps the best song the National have recorded to date. Singer Matt Berninger begins with his vision blurred and words slurred, acting out the destructive tendencies he describes. His voice moves between self-contained characters at a moment’s notice, at one point almost too zonked to speak and the next completely raspy from pleading for understanding. It’s a performance, a method acting masterclass in character-based songwriting. Early National albums like Boxer and Alligator before it moved from quiet to loud and clean to messy. Here, on “Terrible Love,” the band throws away this rulebook, with the Dessner brothers fuzzing up their guitars from the outset as the Devendorfs use the rhythm section to slowly pull the song toward its thrilling apex.

The next few tracks on the album do more to establish tone and aesthetics than shine through in their own right, as “Sorrow” builds off of trembling acoustic guitars and a cleaner baritone from Berninger. The drums are nearly echoless, bright in tone and simple in composition. “Little Faith” scurries in panic, with sirens for guitars blaring above melodic and stagnant synthesizers. Bryan Devendorf shows off just how impressive of a drummer he is, giving the song its entire pace with just a few scattered ghost notes on his snare drum. Berninger’s desperation is palpable as he sings, “All our lonely kicks are getting harder to find / We’ll play nuns versus priests until somebody cries.” In the narcotized Upper Manhattan world that the National often watch and comment on, any emotion at all will suffice; even if it causes tears.

Afraid of Everyone” is the album’s second single after “Bloodbuzz Ohio,” and while the album’s second-half is a masterpiece in a way the first doesn’t quite reach, these two tracks are an apt thesis on the National’s changed approach for High Violet. Sufjan Stevens lends harmonies to the former, giving an ethereality to a band that’s so often rooted in a cold, broken reality. Berninger goes nearly breathless during the song’s finale, “Your voice has stolen my soul, soul, soul,” he sings, literally losing his voice as he does so ― a masterful showcase of descriptive vocal performance.

“Bloodbuzz” was released about two months before the album came out, and it’s a brilliant dividing point between the album’s two halves. Devendorf’s drums again steal the show, bouncing across the recording like a proton looking for its partner. The horns build with a quiet fury, and Berninger’s voice is more delicate here than on most of the record. The song is an emotional ode to the state that birthed the band, with lyrics from Berninger like, “I was carried to Ohio in a swarm of bees / I’ll never marry but Ohio don’t remember me.” Even when the images are nostalgic, they’re dipped in pain and regret: “I never thought about love when I thought about home.”

Berninger’s characters tend to always be running from things, and on High Violet his imagination doesn’t stop trying to escape, but perhaps these voices have grown comfortable with the practice. The album is a reconciliation of broken faith and half-hearted regret. There’s no point in letting pain linger if it doesn’t hurt that badly in the first place. The album’s back half begins with “Lemonworld,” an imagistic narrative from Berninger that’s more of a novel in verse than lyrics to a song. It’s spare and precise, with Berninger’s words cutting cleanly: “You and your sister live in a lemonworld / I want to sit in and die.” Among the layers and layers of the National’s elegant and pain-stakingly assembled compositions lie Berninger’s lyrics, which deserve their own listen outside the context of the music. His storytelling is incredibly intoxicating and he’s able to conjure the emotions of the words he sings in a way I’ve never heard before. It’s poetry, plain and simple .“Runaway” is a slow-building triumph, stadium-ready in a way the National began to master throughout High Violet. The album’s closing run is flawless, with “Conversation 16,” “England,” and “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks” each succeeding in independently ecstatic ways. “Conversation 16” moves with the propulsion of a Hollywood thriller, while “England” is unabashedly anthemic, epically stirring without ever becoming corny. “Vanderlyle” is somber and mournful with hints of optimism, which is perhaps the only way to rightfully end a National album.The creation of the album was rumored to be an intense and volatile process, with the band spending days on certain details that nearly ripped the threads of the group’s foundation apart. It’s dramatic, but it also makes sense considering how thoroughly technical every detail of High Violet is. The band’s ability to stitch together a quilt and hide the seams betrays the work of masters, and it foreshadows a run of records that solidified the National as one of the most thrilling bands we’ve seen in a decade or more. Now, the group is more an entity than a band, with a festival and documentary populating album releases, but High Violet propelled them to this place. It was the last time The National were simply a band, before the world truly came calling. Prior to High Violet, they never had to answer.This edition of High Violet is about as deluxe as it comes; it’s on 3LP, comes with bonus tracks, and is housed in a triple gatefold sleeve. It’s the National album that broke them on the Billboard charts; the one that has arguably their most potent fist-pumper (“Bloodbuzz Ohio”) and it’s also the one that feels most underrated in their catalouge. Revisit 2010’s best indie rock album by getting this reissue, now. The National‘s 2010 album High Violet will be reissued as an expanded 10th anniversary 3LP coloured vinyl package in June.
This includes unreleased tracks ‘You Were a Kindness’ and ‘Wake Up Your Saints’ as well as alternate versions, B-sides, and live recordings. The album proper is across the first two LPs, with the third reserved for the bonus tracks. As can be seen from the image above, this release is being pressed on stunning white/violet coloured vinyl mix. These are numbered and come with a foil-blocked cover and a ‘bellyband’ (presumably the purple strip on the image).
High Violet (10th Anniversary Expanded Edition)

 

Image may contain: sky and cloud

‘Songs for Australia’, which is raising money for organizations in Australia who are helping to rebuild during and after the bushfire crisis. ‘Songs for Australia’ was conceptualized by Australian musician Julia Stone, The album, which was finalized in about two months, started out as “a feeling of sadness and helplessness,” says Julia Stone . She was working with the National collaborator, performer, and producer Thomas Bartlett (Sufjan Stevens, St. Vincent) in London when the project came together.

As the fires raged, Julia Stone played her favorite track  Midnight Oil’s “Beds Are Burning” and inspiration struck. Bartlett suggested they record it the next day in search of a cathartic experience. Stone’s cover of “Beds Are Burning,” which was written 33 years ago about indigenous land rights, is included in the set. She started exploring the information relating to the inattention to indigenous wisdom on land management in Australia. “Had that information not been ignored, this crisis may have been less damaging,” she says.

Stone ended up working on the song with artists from the indigenous Australian Karrabing community; Natasha Bigfoot Lewis, Quinton Shields, and Deborah Sing added lyrics and vocals. “I get goosebumps when I hear Natasha say, ‘What you gonna do when the whole world’s fried?’” She soon realized the project was more than a song. “I know a heap of great artists, and I just started writing the emails, making the calls, sending text messages,” she explains. “‘Hey, I have this idea. Things are bad in Australia. Here are some people doing really good stuff. Want to help?’… That was on January 8th.”

The National was one of a handful of international acts that jumped at the idea of contributing. Frontman Matt Berninger was the one to suggest the INXS choice, and Stone was immediately sold. “Matt came straight back to me after I presented the idea for the record,” Stone says. “He was so thrilled to have an opportunity to help.”

“I’m so grateful to have a good excuse to cover that song,” Berninger tells us. “One of my favorites ever. Hope it helps a little bit.”

Proceeds from the record’s sales and streams will go to numerous organizations, including SEED, Firesticks Alliance, Landcare, Emergency Leaders for Climate Action, Wild Ark, and NSW Rural Fire Service. All proceeds given to Wild Ark goes to what’s needed on the ground. As for Emergency Leaders for Climate Action, “they are trying to do what the government should be doing,” Stone says. “They have created a bushfire summit to make plans for a future where we can do our best to avoid the repeat of such extreme damage and devastation.”

Songs for Australia Tracklisting:

1. The National, “Never Tear Us Apart” (INXS)
2. Petit Biscuit, “Chateau” (Angus & Julia Stone)
3. Dermot Kennedy, “Resolution” (Matt Corby)
4. Dope Lemon, “Streets of Your Town” (The Go-Betweens)
5. Kurt Vile, “Stranger Than Kindness” (Nick Cave)
6. Joan As Police Woman, “Hearts a Mess” (Gotye)
7. Damien Rice, “Chandelier” (SIA)
8. Martha Wainwright, “The Ship Song” (Nick Cave)
9. Paul Kelly, “Native Born” (Archie Roach)
10. Dan Sultan, “Into My Arms” (Nick Cave)
11. Pomme, “Big Jet Plane” (Angus & Julia Stone)
12. Julia Stone, “Beds Are Burning” (Midnight Oil)
13. Sam Amidon, “Let Me Down Easy” (Gang of Youths)

No photo description available.

The National’s Matt Berninger has covered Mercury Rev’s “Holes,” which opens their classic 1998 album Deserter’s Songs, at the NYC Tibet House benefit on Wednesday and now he’s shared a gorgeous studio version of the song that is being released as a single as part of the 7 Inches Vinyl for Planned Parenthood series.

Berninger’s version of “Holes,” produced by Booker T. Jones, is the A-side; a spoken word by lawyer and former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal, called “A Reproductive Rights Call To Action,” is the B-side. Watch a music video for Berninger’s cover below.

Berninger gave the following statement in a press release:

I found myself wasting a lot of time and energy worrying about all the threats to the world and to my kid’s rights. Finally, I just turned everything off and tried to chill. I started listening to a lot of old favorite records and re-reading books. All my energy and optimism came back and I started recording a lot. So many people I know are having this experience and doing their best work right now. Instead of watching everything being destroyed why not have fun and create things that can fight back. I’ve never been happier. Joy is an act of resistance. IDLES said that.

“Holes” originally written and recorded by Mercury Rev (Jonathan Donahue, Sean Mackowiack, Adam Snyder, and David Fridmann)

The National - "Never Tear Us Apart" (INXS Cover)

“Songs For Australia” is the new Julia Stone-curated compilation benefitting Australian brushfire Relief. The compilation features artists including Damien Rice, Joan As Police Woman, Kurt Vile, Martha Wainwright, Sam Amidon, and more covering Australian classics by the likes of Nick Cave, Sia, Gotye, and Gang Of Youths. Upon the announcement of “Songs For Australia” we heard Stone’s own rendition of Midnight Oil’s “Beds Are Burning,” and today we get to hear one of the album’s more anticipated tracks.

The National’s contribution to the compilation is a cover of “Never Tear Us Apart” from INXS’s world-conquering 1987 album Kick. It’s a mostly faithful rendering that nonetheless seems like it could slip right into the Trouble Will Find Me tracklist — which makes sense given that the INXS original already existed in that melancholy National sweet spot (as opposed to the tight-leather funk of “Need You Tonight,” although Matt Berninger’s stage maneuvers do bare some resemblance to Michael Hutchence’s moves in that song’s video).

The National’s “Never Tear Us Apart” cover,is taken from the album ‘Songs For Australia’; an extraordinary album made by a collection of artists from around the world who have each donated their time to record a cover of an Australian song.

The National - Juicy Sonic Magic

The National are celebrating Record Store Day Black Friday (November 29th) with “Juicy Sonic Magic” — a complete recording of their two-night stand at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley last fall. But this isn’t your everyday live album: it was recorded from the audience with two microphones and an analog tape recorder, bootleg-style. And The National are giving it an official release — a limited-edition set of three cassette tapes with a homemade feel.

458ba346-96c6-492c-ba58-f4c9d5b3f730.jpeg

The release is a tribute to the early days of concert bootlegging, and to one SoCal superfan in particular: Mike Millard. Starting in 1975, “Mike the Mic” made hundreds of incredible secret recordings of rock’n’roll giants at the peak of their powers, including Led Zeppelin, Bowie, Dylan, the Rolling Stones, and so many more.

The National’s Matt Berninger and archivist Erik Flannigan tell KCRW about Mike Millard and their twist on this Record Store Day project. Also, be sure to check out The National’s documentary on the project below.

Juicy Sonic Magic: The Mike Millard Method, a 10-minute mini-documentary directed by David DuBois. The film tells the story of late, great concert taper Mike “The Mike” Millard and an homage to his work that was undertaken by archivist and producer Erik Flannigan, who attempted to recreate the legendary taper’s methods by using the same vintage cassette deck and microphones Millard employed in the ’70s to record our two Greek Theatre concerts last year. Millard became a legend for his high-quality bootleg recordings of artists like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan and many others made in and around Southern California in the ’70s and ’80’s by sneaking his equipment into concerts hidden in a wheelchair. The film features animation by illustrator Jess Rotter and Eben McCue, plus interviews with Matt Berninger, producer/archivist Erik Flannigan and Mike Millard’s friend Jim Reinstein, who pushed Millard and his wheelchair into dozens of shows. Flannigan explained the idea behind using The Mike Millard Method in the liner notes of the accompanying Black Friday Record Store Day three-cassette box set release (out November 29th via 4AD) entitled ‘The National: Juicy Sonic Magic, Live in Berkeley, September 24th-25th, 2018′, saying: “The most celebrated audience taper of the period, Mike Millard, recorded in and around Southern California beginning in 1974 and continued into the early ’90s. Millard’s legend is built in part on the cunning and subterfuge he used to get his nearly 15-pound cassette deck and microphones into venues like the The Forum, Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, and The Roxy. For years I have pondered what made Millard’s recordings so good, and eventually I had an idea: What if you recorded a concert today with the same equipment Millard used in 1977? Would it sound like his tapes? Would it tap into his Midas touch? The National was kind enough to let us test the Millard Method for two concerts at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley, California last September. These live recordings were made with vintage AKG 451E microphones and a restored Nakamichi 550 cassette deck which are identical to those used by Millard circa 1975-81. The idea was to see if we could recreate what Matt Berninger calls the “juicy sonic magic” Millard captured in his 1970s field recordings.

Phoebe Bridgers and Matt Berninger (Photo by Chloe Brewer).

The National’s Matt Berninger and singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers have teamed up for a new track featured in Zach Galifianakis’ Between Two Ferns: The Movie, which is out today. The song is called “Walking on a String” and the studio recording arrives October 17th via Dead Oceans.

“Walking on a String” was written for Between Two Ferns by Berninger in collaboration with his wife and National collaborator Carin Besser, as well as musician Mike Brewer. It was recorded with Walter Martin and Matt Barrick of the Walkmen and produced by Bridgers, Tony Berg, and Ethan Gruska.

It’s the first joint song from Berninger and Bridgers.

The National and Erik Flannigan Capture the ‘Juicy Sonic Magic’ of Legendary Taper Mike Millard

The vintage analog recordings taken from a pair of the band’s 2018 sets at the Greek Theatre will be released November 29th. With plenty of time to have digested the band’s May-released I Am Easy to Find—and probably not nearly enough time to digest a socially unacceptable amount of sweet potatoes and turkey substitute The National are gearing up to share their latest recordings in the unconventional format of a live cassette this coming Black Friday. Featuring the band’s September 24th and 25th 2018 sets at LA’s Greek Theatre, Juicy Sonic Magic was recorded by producer/engineer Erik Flannigan, who used The Mike Millard Method, “[replicating] the vintage analog recording equipment the legendary taper used,” per a tweet from the band.

View image on Twitter

A David DuBois–directed doc short about “the most famous taper of all time” and his method, which prominently features The National and this particular performance, will arrive at an unspecified date shortly after JSM rouses us from our gravy-induced stupors.

Watch the trailer for the film below, and see the announcement tweet the band posted earlier this morning.

Juicy Sonic Sex Magik, er, Juicy Sonic Magic, is out November 29th for Record Store Day’s Black Friday event.