(HUDSON, N.Y.) – To celebrate the release of their new single “Guilty Party,” Brooklyn-based indie-rock icons The National will be throwing an intimate, one-of-a-kind release party at Basilica Hudson on Friday, July 14, and Saturday, July 15. Tickets, $50, are still available for the Friday night event. Each guest attending the show will receive a “Guilty Party” 7-inch double-A split with “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness.” Proceeds from the collaboratve concert-party – to be staged in the round with Buke & Gase, Nadia Sirota, Mouse on Mars, S? Percussion, and others – will benefit Basilica Hudson arts programming.
Since 1999, the National – comprising vocalist Matt Berninger, plus two pairs of brothers: Aaron Dessner (guitar, bass, piano) and Bryce Dessner (guitar), and Scott Devendorf (bass, guitar) and Bryan Devendorf (drums) – have landed on every “best of” list in print. The band’s half dozen albums receive critical praise surpassed only by the adoration of their devoted audience. Rolling Stone declared, “The National has always been fueled by a mix of big-time artistic ambitions and deep-rooted family values.”
The National’s distinctive sound has been called a blend of Joy Division, Leonard Cohen, Interpol, Wilco, Depeche Mode, U2, and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds.
Throughout its 16-year career, The National has been renowned for this sound. The band got its start in 1991, when Matt Berninger and Scott Devendorf majored in graphic design at the University of Cincinnati, where they together spearheaded a series of experimental bands. In 2001, The National released its self-titled debut album on Brassland Records, an independent record label founded by Dessner and his twin brother, Bryce. Bryce eventually joined the band as full member in 2003, for The National’s follow-up album, “Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers.”
The group’s longevity is largely due to the consistency in sound across its six albums. Berninger’s now trademark vocals are instantly recognizable for a dry baritone that provides sincere honesty to poetic lyrics. Over the group’s enduring career, lyrical dexterity has remained steadfast, tackling themes of American anxiety such as white-collar work, crumbling relationships, and general paranoia. These dark, tension-filled words combine seamlessly with lush and alluring melodies that swell and crash around Berninger’s vocals.
The National’s star truly started to rise with the release of the 2005 album, “Alligator,” where the band started openly experimenting more with instrumentation. With each album, the band grows more ambitious, more aware and subsequently, more successful. Much of The National’s success is due to its textbook-indie approach: release strong albums and then tour tirelessly around the globe with exacting and mesmerizing performances. Through its tenure, the band has attracted a who’s who of collaborators, such as Justin Vernon, Sufjan Stevens, and Feist.
Aaron Dessner, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter for The National, says that art, music, education and agriculture offer fertile ground for creativity and that the encouragement and support of these endeavors lays the groundwork for a healthy community. “It’s pretty clear that our country and the world in general needs positive pro-social and environmentally responsible change – and people and communities transform through the creative process. So it stands to reason that if we encourage creativity, we can instigate these kinds of changes – maybe even change the world,” says Dessner, who now calls Columbia County, N.Y., home.
Throughout their career, The National has engaged in social activism as illustrated by their support for charitable organizations including the Yellow Bird Project, which raised money for Safe Space NYC, an organization that provides safe refuge for under privileged children and families in Southeast Queens; Partners in Health. The 59-track Grateful Dead tribute album they curated and produced benefited the Red Hot Organization, an international organization dedicated to fighting HIV, AIDS, and related health issues.
Additionally, The National has performed numerous benefit concerts for such organizations as MusiCares, Artists for Peace and Justice, the Robin Hood Foundation, and Cooperative for Education’s Thousand Girls Initiative, a program supporting the growth of educational opportunities for girls in Guatemala.
Says Dessner, “Individuals – even whole nations – can’t solve all problems by themselves. We need one another. We – and all species – are inextricably linked. The road to a better world, and a healthy future for our children, depends on forming alliances and cooperating with others. As more and more positive connections are made, maybe we can realize a collective positive force for change. If our band can give us a platform to contribute in some way to connecting people doing good work … we’re all for it.”