As of this afternoon, approximately 712,000 people have listened to The National’s new single, “Demons,” on Youtube. I was not one of them. I may have sampled a few seconds here and a few seconds there, but I never really settled in with it. The National need your time, like that. “Demons,” from their forthcoming album, Trouble Will Find Me (4AD on 5.12), like much of their best work, isn’t the type of track to awe on a sample or even a single listen. It takes a little time for the deftness of their craft to reveal itself, only then can one appreciate those many layers which make The National so captivating. Listen closely, and along side Matt Berninger’s smooth baritone, you’ll begin to notice how those swaths of electronic sounds and slices of guitar melodies were meticulously mixed to accentuate Berninger’s hard-luck tale.
When one considers the modern folksinger, the word bite isn’t a word which would quickly come to mind. Well, not in a positive sense, at least. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve muttered, “This folkie shit bites,” during those unfortunate occurrences where I had accidentally wandered into an open mic night.
The modern folksinger is thoughtful and polite and sincere, but their songs don’t have any teeth. This is even more true for women. The caricature of gal in shaggy clothes with guitar at the corner coffee shop still lingers. Personally, I blame Jewel, for everything.
Laura Marling’s “Master Hunter,” however, has teeth and bite. While trumpeting her own independence through the manliest of manly metaphors, she’s joined by some throttling acoustic guitar work and enough percussion to keep a small stage of drummers busy.Larura Marling’s latest, Once I Was An Eagle, will be released May 28th on Virgin Records.
Honestly, before playing, “Unreal,” by Hebronix, the new project of Daniel Blumberg, the one time front man of UK power pop revivalists Yuck, I had expected more of the same — Big guitars and big melodies, and some stupid old fun. Not that I didn’t believe in the man’s talents. Rather, he was so convincing in that old band, that listening to Yuck’s debut was like hearing Teenage Fanclub’s Bandwagonesque for the first time all over again.
Instead, “Unreal,” showcases a more nuanced side of Blumberg, one not always apparent from his days in Yuck. The tempo on this vintage slice of psychedelic pop may be on the sluggish side, but there are so many background sounds, moving at so many different speeds, that “Unreal” quickly opens up itself as a work of man whose original talents deserve to be noticed. Hebronix’s debut album will be out July 9th on ATP Recordings.
While “Things In My Head,” the first preview from Pure X’s sophomore album Crawling Up the Stairs (5.14 on Acephale), was underwhelming, like any other man with a slow song and a guitar and a publicist to blast music writers, its follow-up, “Thousand Year Old Child,” goes a long way in showing why Pure X stands out amongst sad rock sect. Like Galaxie 500 before them, they effectively use what little sound they can muster — feedback, a stray guitar note here and there, and a steadily paced bass line, to amplify their feelings of disillusionment.