Return to the Moon
When people think of Ohio indie rockers the National, they probably think of sort of sad, existential music. With all the theatrics the Dessner brothers are able to drum up and lead singer Matt Berninger’s deep baritone voice, the National’s sound is wholly distinct but also full of melancholy. But sometimes with all that heaviness you just need a spritzer. Matt Berninger’s latest project with Brent Knopf of the playful, dynamic Texas band Menomena is that just right change of pace: a quick, relatively light record that makes the most of Berninger’s soulful vocals but especially his sense of humor.
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Mistaken for Strangers
Rock docs tend to follow pretty similar storylines: it’s either the “real-life” portrait of a band, a story of an unsung hero being discovered, or a document of a momentous event. The National documentary Mistaken for Strangers is misleading to even call a documentary of the National: the movie is only about the National tangentially, as the film is really a failed documentary about the National turned into a documentary about the relationship of lead singer Matt Berninger and his younger brother Tom, who created this film. The result is an unexpected film that even non-National and music fans alike would enjoy: a documentary about family dynamics, type B personalities, and overcoming fear and accomplishing the goals you set out for yourself.
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April 18, 2014
Last Friday, The National performed their fourth and final show of a four-night stand at the Chicago Theatre. What was intended to be a two night stop in Chicago quickly turned into four consecutive nights, after each show continually sold out at such a rapid rate and they added more dates. Lucky was I, to have fellow LxL’er Wes to snag me such a prized possession. Regretfully, he could not actually join, and was out of town that particularly night. Fortunately, that did not stop me from going, and what I expected to be a slightly boring, and very melancholic show, actually turned out to be a wonderful concert experience that surpassed most all expectation.
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Fellow blogmate Austin and I were discussing artists we love that have gotten the proverbial shaft in terms of lack of coverage on our site, and how we needed to right the ship. One of those artists was Rilo Kiley’s Jenny Lewis, who Austin gave a five-song LxListening playlist to a few weeks ago to give Lewis her overdue spotlight. I figured I would do the exact same thing for the National, who I failed to review their latest on our site, and who often goes unrecognized on our site given our third member Todd’s disinterest towards the Cincinnati-formed band. But that can’t stop me from giving you a National-themed Friday, filled with 5 choice cuts spanning over their 12 year, 6 album career, a band who has stumbled into an indistinguishable sound and feel to all of their music.
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Following their 2011 debut Gorilla Manor, Local Natives ranked high on what I would call the breakout-ability scale. On their debut, the Los Angeles indie rock band combined elements from three other indie rock phenoms making a potent recipe for indie rock success. They mixed the orchestrated anthem rock of Arcade Fire, the woodsy folk harmonies of Fleet Foxes, and the feverish Afro-pop energy of Vampire Weekend to make for one of the most infectious albums of the year. Now most bands when faced with a successful debut album, usually take the ingredients of the first album, double the recipe, and end up with a second album that either breaks them big or makes for mixed results. Instead, the Local Natives have made something very different in Hummingbird, which is instead the album the band wanted to make: a quiet, contemplative, and sparkling effort, in response to two years following the band’s debut filled with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.
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Sharon Van Etten
There is no shortage of female singer/songwriters. While surely this isn’t the 90’s, when Lilith Fair ruled the pop airwaves, there is still a fair share of females singer/songwriters vying for your attention in 2012, with Adele sweeping the Grammys and other artists from the mainstream (Kelly Clarkson, Colbie Caillat) and indie world (Feist, Regina Spektor) still grabbing tons of radio time.
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