The National | Trouble Will Find Me Review

Brooklyn based band The National is set to release its sixth studio album on May 21st called Trouble Will Find Me.  

The predecessor to their latest album was 2010’s High Violet. It featured a litany of great tracks such as Little Faith, Bloodbuzz Ohio, Lemonworld etc.,  by most accounts this album was very well received, it was the strongest album The National had released up until that point. Each track on that album carried with it a sense of dreary reflectiveness matched with a distinctively expansive tone. If the goal of any good musician is to create something that satisfies the part of the brain that responds to a sense of development that ends with a crowning finish, then High Violet hit the nail right on the head. Though, some people have an issue with Matt Berninger’s baritone voice, finding it unfamiliar by comparison to most lead vocalists who front popular bands, but it’s a large part of what makes The National stand apart in a sea of tenors.     

As always, the newest album from The National takes on the subject of not being a particularly magnanimous human being and exploring the nature of imperfect relationships.  The track Slipped has a few lyrics that touch on what might be the overall sentiment behind this album and The National’s music in general. The chorus goes: “I keep coming back here where everything slips, but I will not spill my guts.”  What slips out in The National’s music is an understanding that people suck, they drink and fight and fuck each other over, passionately loving and hating along the way.  Though, this is not a particularly new revelation to most, it is not so often that a band can put this misanthropic point across in a pleasant way through their music. 
It’s best to come right out and say it, Trouble Will Find Me is not as good as High Violet but that does not mean it is not a great album.  The album opens up with five strong tracks one after another; once it hits the sixth the quality takes a slight but noticeable dip. Heavenfaced and This Is The Last Time just don’t seem to have anything particularly striking about them, as a result, they fail to completely satisfy the listener.  But once you get to Graceless all is forgiven, this track features very strong procession that drives the song from beginning to end.  I Need My Girl is the strongest song on the album and is reminiscent of High Violet’s England in its use of classical string and a synthesiser.      

Review of High Violet


The Strokes | A Review of Comedown Machine

The Strokes have released their fifth album called Comedown Machine. As the title might suggest, Comedown Machine is a rather mellow album. It may in fact be The Strokes very first attempt at harnessing the relaxed musical vibes coming from the west coast, which is strange, given that The Strokes have always been considered a band that was rooted in the east coast NYC music scene.  The last track on the album, Call It Fate Call It Karma, reaches for what some call a beach goth vibe, a la The Growlers.  The majority of the album is similar to what listeners heard on Angels, the band’s last album, but it has a much more relaxed tone.

The major difference between Angles and Comedown Machine, at least in terms of vocal style, is the way Casablancas favours hitting some very high notes. This choice of getting high and going big on this album may have the effect of turning off some fans but this same choice also results in some of the best payoffs on the album. One Way Trigger features Casablancas showing off his new found love of high octaves and it is by far the strongest song on the album. Another standout on this album is 80’s Comedown Machine which is more The Strokes in classic form; the long-time listeners of the band will most likely be drawn to this track because of its purposefully grainy vocals and heart pounding beat.  Partners in Crime is one of the album’s more delicate songs, it also features a few high notes sung by Casablancas but it’s the pacing, provided by the electronic instrumentals that elevates this track.  Happy Ending is a fun track but seems rather unpolished.  These songs have a cruel kind of calm to them that leaves the listener in a hazy state and are somewhat unsatisfying for long-time fans of The Strokes.  

The Mary Onettes | Hit The Waves Review

About four years ago a band called The Mary Onettes came out with a 80s inspired album called Islands. It was the Swedish band’s second album and had a lot going for it, the lyrics were strong and thoughtfully written, but what really made this album one of the best of 2009, was that it inspired a deep sense of nostalgia. There must have been something in the air that year because we saw many 80s inspired acts make their way into the hearts, and onto the iPods, of many music listeners.  The Big Pink made a splash that year with its critically acclaimed album A Brief History of Love and let’s not forget The XX who also released a very 80s album that year.  Here is the issue though, four years is a long time to feel nostalgic about an era, especially for the often vacillating tastes of the internet generation.  The flavour and favour of the same people who ranted and raved about The Mary Onettes four years ago have most likely shifted their interest to the now pervasively present retro rock style, which has been popularized by bands like The Sheepdogs. Better yet, the same listeners may have shifted their interest to the very popular indie folk alternative style of band such as The Lumineers or Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeroes. If your heart requires nostalgia there is a variable banquet of bygone styles to choose from at the moment.  So where does that leave The Mary Onettes?   

It’s now 2013 and The Mary Onettes have released their third album Hit The Waves and it does not disappoint.  You could almost miss the darkness in the lyrics as a result of the tightly woven hooks that populate this album, but it is there.  Each track on the album recounts dark days and relationship issues.  You might even go as far as to say that this album has deeply emotion lyrics, but due to the soft and catchy nature of the music it is difficult to become truly invested in the sentiment expressed in tracks such as Unblessed and the like.