Friday, June 27, 2008

Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers Not So Sad Nowadays


Idolator just linked to a great piece chronicling the rise of indie slow-burners The National, currently touring with R.E.M. and Modest Mouse.

I had their Boxer in the lower half of my 2007 top ten, but it turns out even six months' consideration wasn't enough to properly rate that masterpiece of an album. If I had it to do over again, it'd be #2. Easily. It's been almost a year now, and I'm STILL discovering things. New shit just keeps coming to light. How can something make so little of an impression, and then make such an unmistakable one? It's beyond my comprehension... and I'm a pretty smart motherfucker.

That is, in a nutshell, what the linked story is all about. These guys REALLY know what they're doing, and they were absolutely nowhere for five years. So how does this happen?

Fascinating reading for anyone who's into them... or, really, anyone who's marginally curious about how a great band, toiling in anonymity in spite of their best efforts, can plow forward anyway. (And, of course, hit the jackpot in the end.)

One side note: I get that the author has a personal relationship with The National, and that their tourmates, R.E.M., are the blueprint for slow-burning success... but what of their other tourmates, Modest Mouse? Their career trajectory makes the author's point even better than The National does! I wasn't on the front lines for them, but it's not as if The Lonesome Crowded West or The Moon & Antarctica were instant oatmeal. And there was a long, inactive period between those albums and the "Float On" phenomenon. Given that a correlation was drawn to R.E.M., and that the tour as a whole intentionally features slow-burning acts, it certainly feels more like a singling out of Modest Mouse for some reason than clarifying the argument. Just an observation.


  1. I have been listening to The National a lot and got totally hooked on "Apartment Story" last week at a conference, where I was listening to Boxer to wind down after long days. I just looked to see whether there was a video. Lo and behold:

    The "Apartment Story" video is actually a fair metaphor for the "grower" response you and I and many other people have had to this band. They obviously know it.

  2. I guess we can add "passive-aggressive" to "slow-burners" and "growers"...