Thursday, May 06, 2010

The National - High Violet

Well, this is the one everyone has been waiting for (especially the NYT). But if you're expecting The Boxer, Part II you may be disappointed.

I'm pretty sure The National's new album could have just as easily been titled: "Where did we go from there?" Which is basically the question to be asked after the huge success of The Boxer 3+ years ago. Upon finishing the previous album you were not only left wanting more, but thinking, "What do you do when you reach the top of the [artistic] mountain?" and the inevitable answer is you come back down. How fast that decent occurs varies drastically from one artist to another.

For The National it's thankfully at a slower pace but the momentum is unfortunately downward. High Violet is truly a tale of a two-sided album, where the second side/half is more enjoyable than the first. There are fewer instantly memorable songs on this album. Maybe it's meant to grow on you after all the time and meticulous attention to detail that went into the album. Either way, the album is an achievement that could have seen the band go in a totally opposite direction or become completely complacent. Thankfully they didn't. Maybe this album will continue to grow on me.


Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights - Pardon Me

Dear Rock 'n Roll,

Occasionally I think you've been murdered. Not literally, but maybe your core ideals have changed too much over the last 30+ years to the point you're unrecognizable. The shirtless guys with long hair, too-tight jeans, et al. now look like posers trying to recreate a time before they were even born. Juicy guitar riffs are such a rarity, that when I hear a good one (let alone a few on one album) I have to play the track back just to confirm that I heard it correctly. Maybe you're just in hibernation. Maybe you're saving yourself for those more "worthy". Maybe I'm living in the wrong decade. In any case, thank you for bestowing some of your goodness on Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights. Their new album Pardon Me is a pretty great rock record, filled with blues-tinged rock as well as some slow-burning jams. Some tracks may be weaker than others, but the really great ones make up for any shortcomings.

Don't be a stranger.


P.S. Just listen to how this song "Bright Energy" builds. Can't you imagine this as a set-opener? The lights are basically off and they start playing this kinda noodling-dreamy refrain, it builds slowly as the bass drum goes from pounding out 1-2-3-4 to hear the guitars sustain and fade and then the {CRACK} of two sticks hitting the snare, the lights come up and this monster riff starts. And let the show begin.

Bright Energy: