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Jun 2, 2011
I'm a rare breed: a fan of the National who isn't a rabid, hardcore fan of the National. See, I've been a passive fan for a while, but most everyone I know who enjoys the group counts them among their all-time favorites. I can see where they're coming from--this is a Character Approved group of musicians and the way they're spending 2011 shows just how talented they really are.
Like the Flaming Lips, the National have spent their between-album time producing a lot of collaborations, solo work, and creative projects. Everyone in this band seems to have something extra going on, which makes keeping up with them a bit daunting, but ultimately rewarding.
As a group, the National managed to release a few songs this year in addition to last year's full-length album. They teamed up with folk singer Sharon Van Etten to record "Think You Can Wait" for the movie Win Win and then wrote "Exile Vilify" as the closing song from the wildly successful video game Portal 2. Lead singer Matt Berninger said at a recent show that it was his brother's favorite game, so I'm sure there was more than a bit of family pride in that accomplishment.
Also interesting is what twin band members Aaron and Bryce Dessner have been up to recently. In 2006, Bryce created the MusicNow festival in his hometown of Cincinnati as a way to showcase critically acclaimed bands. He and his brother put it on again this year, performing with several of the bands. The three-day event culminated with a hometown show by the National. Aaron has been producing Sharon Van Etten's next album, who played this year's MusicNOW as well. Given the quality of everything he--and the rest of the group--has been involved with, I'd say she's in good hands.
[Image: Abbey Drucker]