The National. Awful name, wonderful band. Word.
I really don't know how it took me so long to actually hear Tha National, especially considering how people were telling me they were great ages before I actually got around to listening to Alligator and then picking up their recent fourth album Boxer. It's probably just their rather nondescript name; as both are of course absolutely tremendous, a very idiosyncratic mix of subtle indie rock that reminds me equal parts Morrissey, Leonard Cohen, Arcade Fire, Joy Division; i.e. superbly melancholic deep voiced greatness. Their music also gives the persevering listener the sort of pleasure that only really good music can in that their songs do genuinely give you something different every time, and rather than being packed full of bubblegum hooks, you may actually have to work at for a while at picking out the subtler points of each song until you really get what they're doing. Most of the time, they're doing something quite quite brilliant. Indeed I suspect that they're probably my favourite band of the moment along with Of Montreal (high praise indeed), and I really can't wait to see them on their forthcoming UK tour (around November time). Here are a few of their more obscure songs for those of you that just own the albums, and for those of you who should! The first two songs are bsides from the Alligator era, the third a live performance of a track from that record.
The National - The Thrilling Of Claire
The National - Driver, Surprise Me
The National - The Geese Of Beverly Road (live)