VIDEO: The National – “Exile Vilify”

The National recently held a competition with Valve, the makers of popular puzzle game Portal 2, asking people to make a video clip for their song “Exile Vilify”. “Exile Vilify” was included in the game, and shows that despite High Violet giving The National a huge boost in popularity, they aren’t losing their dark and brooding sound, or their amazing song-writing abilities. The winner of the contest will be receiving a rather nice guitar, signed by the band, and a bunch of other Valve goodies.

Valve made sure to point out that it was very difficult to pick a winner, but after much deliberation and consultation with the band, we now have an official video for the song.

Check out the winning video (directed by C.F. Meister):

You can also see the video that got 1.00000000001th place here, and second place here.

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FEATURE: Albums Of The Year – 2010

2010 was one of those odd years where I can’t say I listened to a whole heap of new albums. For example Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs only got a few spins, despite how good I think it is, just because I got distracted I guess. Anyway, without further ado – my top few releases of 2010, and some not from 2010 too.

Album of the Year: Los Campesinos! – Romance Is Boring

I think I knew months ago that this would be my favourite. RiB displays LC!’s true talent in crafting amazingly evocative, relatable, indie-pop/twee music, and the size of the band (they’re an 8-piece) adds another dimension to their music. From start to finish this album doesn’t let up, and I really see it as the culmination of their hard work on previous releases. A brilliant album, well worth trying.

Notable mentions:

The National – High Violet

Birds of Tokyo – Self-titled

Dead Letter Circus – This Is The Warning

Delphic – Acolyte

Los Campesinos! – Alls Well That Ends [EP]

Johnny Foreigner – You Thought You Saw a Shooting Star But Yr Eyes Were Blurred With Tears and That Lighthouse Can Be Pretty Deceiving With the Sky So Clear and the Sea So Calm – EP

There are other releases out there I listened to, but not enough to really appreciate or develop a real opinion of – so I’ll leave them out.

The rest of the year was spent appreciating Johnny Foreigner’s two albums, which are absolutely brilliant. They have cemented themselves as one of my favourite bands in the past three months, and hopefully will one day get the recognition they deserve. I also discovered the rapper P.O.S. who is amazing, with a great delivery and provocative lyrics.

For those interested, the past twelve months on Last.fm show my top artists as:

  1. Los Campesinos! – 2471 plays
  2. Karnivool – 1354 plays
  3. Johnny Foreigner – 1264 plays
  4. The National – 959 plays
  5. Radiohead – 853 plays
  6. Birds of Tokyo – 787 plays
  7. Dead Letter Circus – 664 plays
  8. Bloc Party – 523 plays
  9. We Are Scientists – 325 plays
  10. Death Cab For Cutie – 258 plays
  11. Thom Yorke – 253 plays
  12. Queens of the Stone Age – 231 plays
  13. Josh Pyke – 223 plays
  14. Modest Mouse – 198 plays
  15. P.O.S. – 182 plays

Happy New Year everyone!

BRAND NEW: The National – "Afraid of Everyone"

I know I said I wasn’t going to blog much, but I couldn’t pass this opportunity up! A new song from The National!

"Afraid of Everyone" begins slowly, but manages to develop into a rumbling layered repetitive song, for want of a less negative sounding description. It isn’t a bad repetitive, but I do feel like certain sections are dragged on a tad too long. The guitar line adds a nice atmosphere to it though.

To be honest, it’s not quite up there with "Bloodbuzz Ohio". But altogether it isn’t bad. Might be more of a grower. But it certainly isn’t going to deter me from buying "High Violet", because I know that in a sense The National are an albums band. They have good songs that can stand on their own too, but it’s definitely more enjoyable to listen to an album completely when you’re in the mood for it.

Score: 6/10

Grab a free download from Pitchfork here.

BRAND NEW: The National – "Bloodbuzz Ohio"

“Bloodbuzz Ohio”, the new track from The National, has been floating around the internet as live bootlegs for a while now, but today it was premiered on BBC 6 Music. Shortly afterwards, it was made available as a free download from the band’s website.

Matt Berninger’s deep vocal melodies are present, as expected, and they don’t disappoint. However don’t expect any “Mr. November” style shouting on this track. The drumming seems to have taken a slightly more off-beat approach than previous material (in a good way), but it’s so subtle that it’s almost not worth mentioning. The string arrangements sit at the back for the majority of this song, effectively adding flourishing undertones to the track.

“I’m on a bloodbuzz. Yes, I am.”

I’ve got a good feeling about “High Violet”.

Grab a free download here.

NEWS: The National announce release date for “High Violet”

The 5th LP from The National, titled “High Violet”, is due out on May the 10th (in the UK) and May the 11th (everywhere else).

That’s only a couple of months away.

This is brilliant. I can’t wait.

Also; sorry for an absence of posts over the last week. I’ve got a couple of things to blog about this weekend, time permitting, so hopefully there’ll be some new posts up soon.

NEWS/TOUR: Liam Gallagher @ the Brit Awards + Peter Gabriel makes a fuss + The National tour with The Antlers.

Oasis picked up the Brits Album Of 30 Years for “(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?” at the Brit Awards recently.

“I’d like to thank Bonehead, Guigsy, Alan White…. the best bands in the f**king world live forever.”

Liam Gallagher is quoted as saying, obnoxiously omitting his brother Noel from his thanks. He then subsequently threw his microphone and trophy into the audience.

Watch it here, though this version is censored. Skip ahead to about 1.40 if you wanna see when Liam comes on stage.

Host Peter Kay then appropriately summed up the performance with “What a knob-head.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.

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In other news, Peter Gabriel recently did a cover of Radiohead’s “Street Spirit (Fade Out)” for a covers project, and in return expected Thom Yorke to cover “Wallflower” for him. Yorke had apparently agreed to do so and was set to do it, but hasn’t been in contact for a while. And a lot of online media establishments are making a buzz about it. Seriously, give the man a break. Radiohead have been working on their new LP for a while. And he hasn’t said he isn’t going to return the favour. Just wait or something.

To be honest, I thought Gabriel’s cover of “Street Spirit (Fade Out)” was apalling, but I’ve never heard any of his music before. Maybe it’s his style, but I really couldn’t enjoy it at all.

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Lastly, The Antlers are set to open some North American shows for The National in June. In North America. I live in Australia. Dammit. That would be an absolutely amazing gig to see. Just thought I’d get that out of my system.

REVIEW: The National – "Alligator"

The National’s third album "Alligator" is a testament to the writing abilities of Matt Berninger and co., who take listeners by the hand and drag them through a crowd of deep-rooted human emotions that so often plague our minds, leaving us, instead of frustrated and helpless, content and strangely hopeful in the world-weariness that sometimes overcomes us all.

Moving around delicate finger-picked melody lines to loud emotional roller-coasters, it seems incredible that Berninger’s distinctive vocals can have such a diverse range of forms, all weaving an irremovable sense of sincerity between the songs, and subsequently into the album as a whole. It seems like there’s a story hidden behind every song, and as intriguing as it is to know the origins of these tales, it’s just as satisfying to listen to them with your own life in mind, as self-indulgent as that may seem.

It might seem dark or gloomy to some, but the song-writing is incomparable to any other modern band I know. Songs gradually build up to dizzying levels, sometimes merely to diminish back again, and without relying on traditional rhyming conventions, a musical picture is painted. These pictures can be melancholic, angry, subtle, explosive, regretful, pensive, and observant, among other things, and if this record is given more than a moment, it will grab you and show you it all, before gently letting you back down to react in your own way. What more could you ask for?

Score: 10/10