The Art Immortal

Celebrating the Art That Shall Endure Throughout Time

Episode #42 — CitizenFour / High Violet / Summertime Clothes / The New Policeman / Outlander

CitizenFour podcast review

The Immortals are back and more separated than ever! While Austin and Sarah are on vacation, the only thing they wanted to do was to watch CitizenFour, a documentary about Edward Snowden. They also listen to another whiny album and a catchy song, read a mysterious Irish book and watch a mysterious Scottish TV show. Get excited!

Intro 0:00 – 1:37
CitizenFour 1:37 – 33:05
High Violet 33:05 – 41:53
Rapadura 41:53 – 43:25
Sumertime Clothes 43:25 – 49:54
The New Policeman 49:54 – 58:26
Outlander 58:26 – 1:13:33
Outro 1:13:33 – 1:18:49
Maybe Adam does look like the lead singer of The National...

Maybe Adam does look like the lead singer of The National…

 

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Artwork by Ray Martindale

2 Comments

  1. My odd thoughts on “High Violet:”

    The National is one of my favorite bands going today. I saw them at Riot Fest in 2014, a show during which Matt Berninger drank an entire bottle of wine on stage in 45 minutes and then leapt into the crowd for a set-closing, howling “Terrible Love.” He spent the whole show looking more like a Bond villain than the guy who judges you for your musical taste.
    That said, I am surprised “High Violet” is the album on this list because it is not them at their best. There are many songs I like: the ones you mentioned on the podcast, plus “Afraid of Everyone,” a haunting song about Berninger’s impending fatherhood, and “Lemonworld,” which is my favorite cut on the record…it’s a song that always gives me a mood of thinking back to so much of what’s lost and I always get it stuck in my head.
    For me, “High Violet” is the band’s transitional album. Their previous album “Boxer,” which made me a fan in the first place after my younger brother gave me a copy, is the apex of their initial sound, a collection of rock tunes and ballads with imaginative melodies and relatively simple and dramatic arrangements. On “High Violet,” the change in the sound is really startling. There is so much going on in these songs…the instrumental interplay, the production effects…there’s a feeling of them trying a lot of different things to keep from making “Boxer Part II” and while it’s interesting (Aaron and Bryce Dessner are great modern classical musicians/writers when not in the National, so they bring a lot), everything sounds busy and not fully finished. And this gets really clear on their next (and last thus far album) “Trouble Will Find Me,” which zeroes in and expands upon the GREAT things in “High Violet,” including the power guitars and the bigger arrangements, without trying to shake everything else up. More importantly, the music and lyrics are written to match this style: the songs are LOADED with hooks and the lyrics, which Berninger cowrote with his wife Caryn Besser (a former New Yorker editor) are genuinely memorable. Each song sounds like a chapter from a different, compelling novel.
    This is my long way of saying that “High Violet” is a weird pick and NOT how one should experience The National for the first time. It’s best moments never give me the pleasure and emotion of “Boxer” and “Trouble Will Find Me,” and those albums have a massive effect on me.

    • I feel like this list really is, “This isn’t their best/most popular album” for a lot of bands. Pretty much all of the britpop post punk bands have been that way. I’ve had numerous friends say, “Really? That album?” It is very peculiar as to the choices of some of the albums.

      The one thing that I constantly have to keep in mind with this list though is that the list we’re using came out in 2011 so anything from 2011 or later is excluded which sucks because there’s a lot of great stuff that’s come out since then. Also some great albums that may have come out in 2009 or 2010 aren’t on here because they didn’t have time to get recognition or become cult hits.

      Unfortunately this is our only The National album on the list so we won’t revisit them but I will try to seek them out sometime when I need something new to listen to and give the Boxer a try.

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