Monday, March 3, 2014

Underrated Classic: The National "Alligator"

Nine years ago, Brooklyn indie band The National released their third record, Alligator, and while they were far from the critical darlings they are today, the record became an important stepping stone as to how they were going to get there. After the release of two albums and an EP, The National were making a name for themselves but it didn't seem like anyone was noticing. In 2005, that began to change when Alligator arrived and attacked like a beast from the murky banks of the Gowanus Canal. The album did not break any Billboard records when it was released in April 2005, but what happened for The National was something that had not happened before -- the record appeared on many year end top 10 lists. The reason was because the band began changing their formula. The songs went from somber ballads or lo-fi recordings of a drunk and chaotic singer, but to something much more aggressive and alive. Songs like "Mr. November," "Abel," "All the Wine," "Secret Meeting," showcased singer Matt Berninger's ability to channel his chaos and internal drama into intense and surprising rock and roll songs with impeccable arraignments. Now, nine years later, the songs from Alligator are fan staples as gigs and the record has taken on a new life as the band continue their rise to the top.