Music Review: The National

I didn’t really “get” The National’s latest CD, Boxer, until I listened to it late one night coming home from a bar. As I watched the street lights blur past, the music suddenly came into focus–glistening with darkness, powerful and fragile at the same time.

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Black Rebel Motorcycle Club–Baby 81

I’ve liked Black Rebel Motorcycle Club from the beginning. Their thick guitar sound, slow riffs and progressions, and explosive crescendos were perfect for writing to. Howl might’ve been a break from their previous sound, with its blues and gospel influences, but it wasn’t as clean a break as a lot of reviewers thought.

For their new CD, Baby 81, they’ve gone back to the sound of their first two CDs, but added a few almost Beatlesque touches in their melodies. The production is less deliberately muddy than their first two CDs as well, which creates a slightly different texture. The result is another great CD. Nothing that’s going to convince non-believers, but an excellent CD that rewards repeated listening.

Here’s a video from the CD.

Jeff

Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga by Spoon (or is it Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga?), pictured above, is an echo of a ghost from an alternate universe (perhaps where they’re called Fork and the album is Hee Hee Hee Hee Hee). In that universe, Spoon’s coiled intensity, without release, relaxes a little, into a place that’s both less interesting than Gimme Fiction but also more satisfying, in some ways.

Every song on Ga x 5 has its parallel on some other album by Spoon. There’s nothing we haven’t heard before. Not really. And yet, I still like it. I don’t know that it will reward repeated (and repeated) listenings the way Gimme Fiction did, but I don’t know if I mind that, either.

There’s a depth of sound and a signature sound to Spoon that no one else is really exploring right now. (The closest to that is probably Robbers on the High Street, but the comparison is very unfair to both bands, in a sense.)

Spoon’s treading water, or branching out in a very subtle way, but I’m still more than willing to tread water with them.

Jeff