the national is the best band on the planet
that is currently still producing, performing, and is not named radiohead (other qualifiers may be added as i think of them).
the new york times profiled them in their sunday magazine more than a year ago, and i stumbled across it again this morning. i had forgotten how vibrant the magazine’s profiles can be. the best ones are like this one, which trigger me to dig out old albums and find new favorite tunes. actually the best, best ones are the ones i still remember after a year and a half — i didn’t stumble across this article so much as google for it after reading about tom waits in this week’s magazine.
The National Agenda, Nicholas Dawidoff, April 23, 2010. The New York Times Magazine.
With the National, it’s never only rock ’n’ roll. Watching them record a song is like looking on as a group of skilled chefs make a sandwich together; even in a B.L.T., they can foresee endless possibilities. They are now five men in their mid- to late 30s, with mortgages, children, wives or serious girlfriends and musical tastes that have likewise settled into convictions. Each National song is a microbatch creation integrating their obsessive, often-diverging feelings about rock ’n’ roll. These range from the formally inventive, high-art aspirations of Bryce to the garage-band purism of Matt, who, Aaron says, “is all about if there’s heart or purpose in it. He has no interest if it’s theoretical.” By striving to accommodate these disparate points of view, the National gets what all bands want and few achieve, a sound of its own. Michael Stipe, the lead singer of R.E.M., told me that when he took Mike Mills, R.E.M.’s bass player, to hear the National perform in London, it took Mills only half of one song to exclaim, “This is the most amazing thing I’ve heard in years.” Stipe explains: “It’s instantaneous. It touches you.”