Last April we were extremely proud to feature a remix of NO‘s “Town On Fire” on the single in our April Pairings Box. At the time, the track was labeled “top secret” and we described it as “darkly cinematic and as lush as anything that band has released to date … filled with a subtle rat-a-tat rhythm and shimmering guitar drones that build upon a soaring melody.” The other day the track was played on Grey’s Anatomy, and we’re finally able to reveal the tune. The version of “Town On Fire” was remixed by Michael Guy Chislett.
This was limited to 300 copies and sold out fast. We do have about 5 copies left as part of our gift bundles in the Market. Don’t want to miss these awesome singles? Sign up for the Pairings Box.
So my day just got better and all it took was a new awesome recording from the National. The cut, “Twenty Miles to NH Part 2” is a cover of a track from The Philistines Jr.’s 2010 album. The cover was recorded for a compilation featuring remixes and covers of songs from The Philistines Jr. titled If a Lot of Bands Play in the Woods…, and it also features contributions by Jónsi and Alex, Mercury Rev, Mates of State, Frightened Rabbit, Tapes ‘N Tapes, and Oneida, amongst others. If you are wondering how they scored all of these bands to cover their tracks, consider that their frontman Peter Katis is a producer and owns Tarquin Studios, where The National, for example, recorded parts of High Violet.
This feels like deja vu. Last month saw the release of a new track by the National and two tracks by Thom Yorke with Burial & Four Tet. And this month we get two new songs by Radiohead, followed shortly thereafter by another new song by The National. I vote for this happening every month. The new track by the National is called “Exile Vilify” and, somewhat surprisingly, it was recorded for the videogame Portal 2. I’ve played my fair amount of video games and I love the National – but I’ve never thought of pairing the two together. Either way, I’m not complaining. Thanks to Stereogum for the heads up!
Kasey’s phyllo-wrapped tilapia recipe is an amazingly delicious recipe. Brittle, paper thin sheets of phyllo envelop a buttered, herbed tilapia fillet that is moist and flavorful. As a whole, the dish is beautifully textured, well balanced and full satisfying. Thus, it is the perfect pairing for my favorite album so far from 2010: the National‘s High Violet. High Violet is hauntingly beautiful, intricately orchestrated, and emotionally connective. Like The National’s other albums, it will require an initial investment for most listeners, but rewards that effort with songwriting that soaring and evocative and lyrics that genuinely hit home. It features some of the bands’ best work to date including “Terrible Love,” “Anyone’s Ghost,” “Afraid of Everyone,” and “Bloodbuzz Ohio.” It gets my vote for the best album so far this year. (Update: Subsequently this was selected as TK’s Top Album of 2010)
High Violet isn’t a ground-breaking album for the National in that it doesn’t really see them exploring a new direction or any form of shift in scope. It does, however, represent The National honing all of the qualities that made their prior albums particularly memorable and note worthy. And while the peaks are arguably slightly less high when compared to Boxer, for example – High Violet is the more consistently rewarding album. Lead singer Matt Berninger’s lyrics remain witty, self-deprecating, full of doubt, and seeped in those painful, dark corners of love that suit his deep baritone so well. Indeed, the songs on High Violet definitely connect with most listeners on an emotional level. The songwriting is intricate, detailed and thorough. Melodies surge like dark underground rivers that rapidly gain speed as they flow downhill. And although Sufjan Stevens guests on the track “Afraid of Everyone” and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon’s backing vocals appear on the tune “Terrible Love,” the stars of the album, both vocally and instrumentally, remain The National themselves. You can stop by the High Violet website (link above) to find an independent record store to pick up the limited edition, individually numbered, deluxe edition of the album on violet-colored vinyl, or just stop by Insound to buy the regular edition.