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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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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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Watch Sleater-Kinney cover the CCR classic “Fortunate Son” at the Women’s March on Washington

Sleater-Kinney
Sleater-Kinney | Photo by Megan Kelly | keganmellyphotography.tumblr.com

At the hub of this weekend’s Women’s March in Washington DC, Planned Parenthood hosted an expansive benefit concert, with Sleater-Kinney sharing the headlining bill with The National.

Sleater-Kinney brought something extra special to their set, with Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards (as well as The National’s Matt Berninger and Dirty Projectors‘ Dave Longstreth) joining them onstage to perform the Vietnam-era staple “Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. Continue reading →

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Watch The National cover The Grateful Dead on Colbert for their upcoming Day Of The Dead tribute compilation

The National | Photo by John Vettese
The National | Photo by John Vettese

Indie rockers The National will be releasing their Grateful Dead tribute compilation Day Of The Dead on May 20th, and last night they stopped by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to perform their cover of the Dead’s “Morning Dew.”

The band first released their cover back in March as a “first taste sampler” from the album along with The War On Drugs’ take on “Touch Of Grey,” Courtney Barnett’s cover of “New Speedway Boogie,” and more. Singer Matt Berninger takes his vocals down an octave from Jerry’s tenor to his own signature baritone, but musically, the song remains pretty faithful to the original. Continue reading →

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Listen to The War On Drugs covering “Touch Of Grey,” Courtney Barnett covering “New Speedway Boogie” and more from The National’s Grateful Dead tribute comp

the war on drugs
The War on Drugs | Photo by Kate McCann | katemccannphotography.com

Confession: I’ve never considered myself a “Deadhead.” Every once in a while when I was growing up, my dad would play “Friend of the Devil” or “Brokedown Palace” (pretty much just American Beauty). I’ve always enjoyed their music, but I’ve really only scratched the surface when it comes to their immense catalogue of live recordings, Dick’s Picks, and journeys into psychedelia.

But when it comes to songwriting and capturing the American experience, The Grateful Dead really were one of the greatest bands of the past 50 years. The National knows this, and apparently 58 other hugely successful bands and musicians do as well. That’s why the Dessner’s (Bryce & Aaron of The National) have assembled the outrageously massive Day Of The Dead tribute compilation, which features everyone from Bruce Hornsby to Wilco, Philly’s The War on Drugs to Bob Weir himself covering classic Dead tunes from their earliest stages up until present day. Continue reading →