The National are arguably one of the greatest bands alive today. I would argue that anyway. My wife disagrees because one time when we saw them live she thought Matt Berninger drank too much wine and was an asshole. I think Matt Berninger probably thinks he’s an asshole so I’m not sure that’s a good argument. So what do I think is so great about The National? I’ll give you five reasons in no particular order:
- Aaron and Bryce Dessner – The Dessner twins are my favorite element of The National. Aaron is a musician’s musician—literally, as Taylor Swift has made clear through their musical partnership. Bryce is a composer par excellence. He’s collaborated with the likes of Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Sufjan Stevens, Jonny Greenwood.
- Collaborations – The guys in The National have created some of the BEST collaborations. My personal favorite is the Grateful Dead tribute project, Day of the Dead. Other notable collabs: Big Red Machine with Justin Vernon, and the Dark Was the Night compilation.
- Guitar Rock – Sometimes you just want to listen to a good rock and roll song. The National are great at making loud guitar noises. Mr. November, Bloodbuzz Ohio, the guitar solo on The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness—all great examples of driving guitar rock.
- Book Nerds – There are countless literary reference strewn across The National albums. They even made a recording of The Rains of Castomere from Game of Thrones!
- Existential Dread – The term “dad rock” gets thrown around often in reference to The National, but the truth is they write music about the pressures of adulthood, the stresses of working and “worried talk to God”. Who doesn’t love a good shout into the darkness?