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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.
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Just Announced: NPR Music and World Cafe bring The National to Philly, performing entire new album LIVE

The National | photo by Graham Macindoe | courtesy of the artist

Over the last two months, excitement for The National’s new album, Sleep Well Beast, has been building as they’ve released three singles and performed a handful of new songs in Paris during a live-streamed Pitchfork concert. Now, WXPN’s World Cafe and NPR Music have just announced a LIVE First Listen performance, happening three days before the album drops, from right here in Philly on September 5th! Continue reading →

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Jake Ewald channels The National on Slaughter Beach, Dog’s new single “Building the Ark”

Slaughter Beach, Dog | photo by Jess Flynn | courtesy of the artist
Slaughter Beach, Dog | photo by Jess Flynn | courtesy of the artist

As Modern Baseball takes a much-needed, indefinite hiatus following their European tour and cancellation of their US tour earlier this year, co-frontman Jake Ewald has continued his solo project as Slaughter Beach, Dog. Ewald released a successful debut LP Welcome last year, which began as an exercise superimposing his own experiences onto characters he created to break through a struggle with writer’s block and soon turned into a legitimate project with enough material for an LP.

Last week marked the release of lead single, “Building the Ark,” from Slaughter Beach, Dog’s upcoming four-song EP, Motercycle.jpg that is set for a July 14th release on Lame-O Records. The song already hints at a sonic departure for Ewald than Welcome, sounding, oddly enough, much less like Modern Baseball and more like The National, but lyrically remaining on par with the themes of the disillusionment and disconnectedness of youth that he often draws upon. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: The National Reserve get things going with southern rock jams

The National Reserve | photo by Emma Silverstone for WXPN

It’s about 90 degrees in Philadelphia this evening and while it’s not too humid outside, the upstairs room at World Cafe Live is feeling a little sticky. It kind of sets the scene for The National Reserve though, a band from Brooklyn that opened the 17th annual NonCOMMvention with a set of bluesy rock ‘n’ roll straight from the steamy streets of the South.

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Leaner and meaner, The National returns with “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness” and a Verizon Hall gig

The National | Photo by John Vettese

Welp, last night’s alerts were true — arty ensemble The National are indeed returning this September with Sleep Well Beast, their mew LP out September 8 via 4AD. Their website has been updated to include a full roster of tour dates that — wowzers! — includes a stop at the Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall on December 4th. And the band has a new single called “The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness,” which you can hear below.

The song doesn’t stray from the haunting tones and existential murmurs of The National we know and love, but it is punchy and poppy, lean and mean, clocking in under four minutes with one of the hookiest refrains  we’ve heard from Matt Berninger since the High Violet days; take a listen below, and expect to have “I can’t explain it / any other, any other way” stuck in your cranium for a while. More information on The National’s Verizon Hall show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →