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    Sunday, February 25, 2007

    Alec Hanley Bemis drops hints about the new National album

    Photo by Jess Levy

    Alec Hanley Bemis, co-founder of Brassland Records along with National brothers Bryce and Aaron Dessner, checked in with The National message board with some info about the band's upcoming May album. This fourth full-length is quite a turning point for the group, who already won many converts with 2005's Alligator and is poised to have an even bigger breakthrough this time around. I saw them perform four of the songs slated for this new release, and as Hanley Bemis confirms, it's not going to rewrite their sound but perhaps revamp it and expand it. Here's more of what he had to tell us:

    I've now heard the material that will make up the new record as, I'm guessing, have one or two friends of the band also on this list. They gave us early versions to help w/ sequencing. A listening party of the mastered record was held on Valentine's day -- though I was seeing Arcade Fire at Judson Church.

    The music is great, perhaps a bit more of a mellow vibe than Alligator overall -- perhaps somewhere between the Cherry Tree mellow/beautiful sound and the Alligator more up-beat/rocking sound. Most notable about the record is that it has the best arrangements they've done, by far, and there's some unexpected & wonderful new elements that you haven't heard before. Think trumpets, and other brass instruments; increased use of female backing vocals; excellent piano bits by Thomas Bartlett (aka Doveman & sideman to David Byrne, Bebel Gilberto, Laurie Anderson, The Frames, Yoko Ono); and possible even some playing by band friend, Sufjan Stevens.

    Thematically it intertwines songs about love, songs about war, and songs about office life. Or, more correctly, songs that are about all three topics at the same time.

    Needless to say, I'm unconscionably excited about this as-far-as-I-know-still-untitled effort, and am already counting down the long weeks till May. If anyone knows any more details (other than two of the songs being called "Fake Empire" and "Start a War"), drop me a line.

    UPDATE (9:45 am): It seems there's now an album title too: Boxer.
    UPDATE 2 (5:32 pm): Well, I guess now we know why the information's been trickling out. Pitchfork had to get the exclusive. Here's the info with tracklisting, cover image and brief tour dates.

    * MP3: "Minor Star of Rome" - The National from The Believer June 2006 Music Issue
    * MP3: "Lit Up" (Live) - The National from Black Sessions, 4-29-05 [Buy other National]
    * Artist Website: American Mary

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    Comments on "Alec Hanley Bemis drops hints about the new National album"


    Anonymous Jeff said ... (7:24 PM) : 

    This is one of the albums I've been looking forward to most this year. Exciting stuff!


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