In Review...The National, Avi Buffalo

>> Saturday, 29 May 2010

The National
High Violet

Brooklyn-via-Ohio’s the National sure have the scene-setting, album-opening track down pat. The urgency of “Secret Making” (Alligator) and the stately elegance of “Fake Empire” (Boxer) prepped eager ears for the brooding sounds to come.

High Violet’s lead track “Terrible Love” earns a place next to its regal predecessors. As always, frontman Matt Berninger singular baritone is at the foreground, but it’s the calm-before-the-storm, distorted guitars, courtesy of brothers Aaron and Bryce Dessner, that escalate the tension to an almost unbearable degree. And it’s a testament to this band’s remarkable talent that the better tracks always, always keep coming. “Sorrow” is jittery mid-tempo fare; “Lemonworld” is moody post-punk; while the epic and upbeat fist-pumper “Bloodbuzz Ohio”is this album’s “Apartment Story”.

Five albums in and the National have unquestionably perfected their sinister, late-night, moody aesthetic.

Where will they go from here?

-Mykael Sopher

Rating: 3.75/4.0
Choice Cuts: “Runaway”, “Terrible Love”, “Lemonworld.”
R.I.Y.D. Wilco, Joy Division, baritone-voiced frontmen
Label: 4AD

Avi Buffalo

Avi Buffalo are a very young quartet from Long Beach, Cali whose way with the song easily belies their age. Their eponymous debut, released on venerated label Sub Pop Records, is just bristling with bright and quirky, thoughtful and well-executed, indie-pop.

The brain behind the op is Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg, a recent high school grad well on his way to turning 19. Rounded out by keyboardist/vocalist Rebecca Coleman and drummer Sheridan Riley (both under 20), plus old man bassist Arin Fazio (21), these fresh-faced kids, much like their contemporaries the xx, shirk the songwriting expectations and preconceptions yoked to their tender years.

Whereas the xx excel in whispered and carefully checked pillow-talk, Avi Buffalo act their age, sounding uncertain of their future, yet content enough with their fun, sexed-up present, as on the delightfully barmy confessional “Summer Cum”.

If, by chance, you’re heading to Toronto for NXNE next month, make a point of checking these precocious younglings out. I know I will.

-Mykael Sopher

Rating: 3.25/4.0
Choice Cuts: “What’s In It For?”, “One Last”
R.I.Y.D. The Shins, The Morning Benders, The xx…if they were summery and lively
Label: Sub Pop


willlllllll,  30 May 2010 at 02:41  

high violet is going to take some beating for album of the year.
i think already that 2010 has put out better records than all of 2009.

Mykael 30 May 2010 at 15:44  

Agreed. It has been an amazing five months of music.

My pick for album-of-the-year so far, though, has to be Beach House's Teen Dream. Really can't get enough.

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