Record Bulletin

Record Bulletin, 7/23: Deerhunter and The National


My posting mirrors my life in becoming more erratic. Sometimes I forget how long I’m holding on to these albums before knowing what I’ve known for a while—it’s good and I want to write about it. Busy week rolls on, so I wouldn’t believe me if I said I’ll post again before the week’s out like I always do.

deerhunterDEERHUNTER – Monomania (4AD): Prog rock talk ahoy regarding Deerhunter’s latest, but imagine their previous projects and evolving articulateness as this: a few indecipherable forty minute blocks of distorted guitar swash which eventually bred garage punk leanings (Halcyon Digest), knacks for hooks (frontman Bradford Cox’s project Atlas Sounds’ Parallax), and a willingness to lasso those reverbs into songs with discernible structure (guitarist Lockett Pundt’s Lotus Plaza). Those latter three habits convene here to make this. What got Pink Floyd labeled as ‘prog’ was Dark Side, though compared to their prog-pioneering peers they hardly sounded like it: not enough King Crimson orchestration or schmaltzy jazz sessions, closer to blues (or really, pop) than Yes-esque classicality, too riff-friendly for Procol Harum. So essentially stoners’ space sounds patched with audio clips or wiled-out jams count as prog. In contemporary terms, I’m more willing to compare Deerhunter to The White Stripes than Tool. But if this be prog, let there be more. A MINUS

the nationalTHE NATIONAL – Trouble Will Find Me (4AD): A band I forever tell myself I’ll reacquaint my ears with their catalog, only I’ll break my longstanding rule of starting with their first and working my way through. Matt Berninger’s baritone keeps grumbling lower and lower, the Dessner brothers ever more creative in how they’ve kept what cynics could peg as Gothic Coldplay more sonically engaging than Beringer’s lyrics. And that arrangement conveniently kinda makes sense in summing up a certain post-9/11 American ethos—Midwest-bred regular joes better suited for conveying an ominous and murky mood than constructively communicating about it. The National… what, exactly? The National feeling? The National spirit? Why I’ll work backwards through their discography is because they get progressively darker as time goes on, meaning I’ll hear things getting brighter. This is one of their darkest yet, and it’s hard to imagine how such pretty music could get more menacing. A MINUS


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