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Free at Noon Flashback: The National Reserve brings the heat to World Cafe Live

The National Reserve | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

On Friday afternoon, Brooklyn rockers The National Reserve brought a high energy set to World Cafe Live, filled with solos on the drums, keys, and guitars. The band opened on some older cuts, dropped a cover of Ronnie Lane’s “Roll on Babe,” slowed it down with “Don’t be Unkind” from their new full-length project Motel La Grange, which was released Friday. Continue reading →

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#XPNFest announces more artists, incl. Natalie Prass and The National Reserve

Natalie Prass | photo by Tonje Thilesen // Fantastic Negrito // The National Reserve | photo by Michael Cooper // Forth Wanderers | photo by Julia Leiby // all photos courtesy of the artists

77 more days, 11 weeks left, a little over two months to go – however you want to say it, you better believe XPNFest is coming up quickly! Kicking off on Friday, July 27 across the river in Wiggins Park, NJ, the annual festival is returning for its 25th rendition. Today, we’re pleased to announce four more artists set to appear at the fest.

Joining the Wiggins Park crowd on Friday is Brooklyn’s The National Reserve, who just wrapped up a Free at Noon set earlier this afternoon. The Brooklynites show off their bluesy brand of Americana rock on their latest album, Motel La Grange, which just so happens to be out today. Give the album a spin if you missed the band’s set, or relisten to some of the tracks the band played earlier on air. Continue reading →

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Meek Mill speaks out on criminal justice reform at the National Constitution Center

Meek Mill
Meek Mill | still from video

It’s only been a matter of days since he was released from prison, but Philly rapper Meek Mill is already turning his hard-fought legal battle into a movement for criminal justice reform. Meek Mill was serving time in a Chester state correctional facility before his two- to four-year sentence for a probation violation was overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on April 24. Meek was sentenced by Judge Genece Brinkley, the same judge who convicted him on questionable charges 10 years ago and also allegedly asked the rapper ad his then-girlfriend to record a personalized Boyz II Men cover for her to avoid further legal trouble.

Meek Mill’s imprisonment was widely protested in Philadelphia since his sentencing last November, with rallies outside City Hall, signs emblazoned with #FreeMeekMill and #Justice4Meek, and “Stand With Meek Mill” buses and billboards around town. A few weeks ago, Meek released a video for “1942 Flows,” which contains footage from local protests.

On Thursday, Meek Mill appeared at the National Constitution Center with state lawmakers and Governor Tom Wolf to push for criminal justice reform. Continue reading →

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XPN MusicNotes: Watch The National perform a new song, read George Clinton’s thoughts on retiring from Parliament/Funkadelic

The National | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

It does not appear that The National are preparing to release a new album anytime soon —  they did just put out their four-years-in-the-making Sleep Well Beast in September, after all — but they performed a new song at their Homecoming Festival in Cincinnati over the weekend.  Continue reading →

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Just Announced: The National is coming back to Philly and bringing Cat Power and Phoebe Bridgers along

The National | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Prepare yourselves, because there’s an incredibly good show coming our way this fall. So good that it may take a moment or two to process that it is actually happening. It hasn’t been too, too long since we’ve seen The National in town (those who were lucky enough to score tickets, that is) — the band played to a very sold-out Kimmel Center in December, and performed their new album Sleep Well Beast to an even more sold-out Union Transfer last September for NPR Music’s First Listen Live.

This September, The National is coming back to Philly — not to either of the previously mentioned venues, but to the Mann Center. And if that’s not reason enough to get excited, the opening acts will be Cat Power and Phoebe Bridgers. What?! How does a lineup like this even come together? Maybe it’s best not to ask questions, but just mark our calendars and thank whatever cosmic forces made this happen. Continue reading →

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XPN MusicNotes: Watch The National’s new video for “Sleep Well Beast,” hear new music from The Shins’ “flipped” album The Worm’s Heart

The National | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

“It’s a mind-bending technicolor trip that follows the band through a series of different locations with a succession of dark red and moody blue hues” -NME on The National’s new video

The National have just put out a new video for their new tune Sleep Well Beast, the sixth single from their latest album of the same name. Watch it below. Continue reading →

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An Elegant Uproar: The National goes all in at the Kimmel Center

The National | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

Seven records and almost two decades in, you can’t even begin to accuse The National of phoning it in. While I initially mistook a lower-intensity set for a band beginning to show its age, an unusually lucid Matt Berninger was just slyly taking his sweet old time to hit a crowded Kimmel Center where it counts — and on a Monday evening, no less. Opening with deep cut “Karen,” from 2006’s Alligator was a surefire way to get the crowd of loyalists interested, but the song lacks the hallmark intensity of the band’s many unintentional anthems. It was only after “Nobody Else Will Be There,” from 2017’s just-released Sleep Well Beast, led into “The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness,” that the intensity was ratcheted up a couple of notches. The rest of the evening toed the fine line that the band always has between subtlety and quiet uproar. Continue reading →

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Watch The National’s unpredictable video for “I’ll Still Destroy You”

The National | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Following the release of their acclaimed seventh album Sleep Well Beast, The National are back with a new video to accompany the brooding and rhythmic album track “I’ll Still Destroy You.”

Filmed in Copenhagen, the video takes the art rockers on a journey that matches the quirky unpredictability of the winding, five-minute track. According to 4AD, “It was shot in one hour at Dope & Korruption, a pop-up bar created by Ragnar offering arancini, chocolate truffles, prosecco, classical music and a sailor striptease.  During the video shoot the bar was shut down by Danish security officials and destroyed the day after.” Continue reading →

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Watch The National honor Tom Petty with “Damaged by Love” cover

The National | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

In the two days following his passing, fans and other musicians alike have come together in an outpouring of support and appreciation for Tom Petty‘s impact on music. Among the heartfelt tributes are plenty of Petty covers, and this one from indie rock favorites The National, shared by the band on Instagram, features a quiet and intimate interpretation of “Damaged by Love” performed by frontman Matt Berninger and guitarist Bryce Dessner. Continue reading →

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Listen to The National play Sleep Well Beast in its entirety at Union Transfer for NPR Music

The National | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

This Friday, The National releases its seventh album, Sleep Well Beast, a torrent of atmospheric soundscaping, propulsive rhythm and existential lyrical ennui from frontman Matt Berninger, who breaks down the dissolution of a relationship over a dozen tracks.

It’s a powerful set of songs, arguably their best work since 2007’s Boxer, and the band performed it live last night in its entirety at Philadelphia’s Union Transfer for NPR Music’s First Listen Live series.
Continue reading →