Entries tagged with: Matt Berninger
photos by Amanda Hatfield, words by Andrew Sacher
EL VY / Wye Oak / Julien Baker @ Bowery Ballroom - 11/13/15
EL VY released their debut album Return to the Moon at the tail-end of last month via 4AD, and their tour in support of it hit NYC this past weekend for sold-out shows at Bowery Ballroom on Friday (11/13) and Music Hall of Williamsburg on Saturday (11/14). The band is led by Matt Berninger (who fronts The National) and Brent Knopf (who fronts Ramona Falls and used to be in Menomena), and they were joined by drummer Andy Stack (of their tourmates Wye Oak), backup vocalist Moorea Masa (who also sings on their album), and another guitarist/bassist. Brent is the band's multi-instrumentalist and he switched around a lot from keyboards to acoustic guitar to electric. And Matt Berninger was as distinctly Matt Berninger as ever, doing Matt Berninger things like quickly going from standing still and somberly singing to screaming and thrashing around the stage and slamming his mic to the ground. Now that he's a guy who's headlined Barclays Center, it was a treat to see him up close and personal. As for the setlist, they played all of Return to the Moon and also covered Fine Young Cannibals "She Drives Me Crazy" (which they've been doing the whole tour), which got a good portion of the crowd singing.
Wye Oak provided direct support, with a set that leaned pretty equally on their more rocking material and the poppier sounds they explored on last year's Shriek. As they always do, they sounded super full considering they're just a two piece. And speaking of sounding full with a small stage setup, Julien Baker, the young Memphis singer/songwriter who opened both NYC shows, sounded really great with nothing more than her voice and clean electric guitar. Her debut album only just came out (via 6131) but it's clear that she's already a super confident performer. A lot of her stuff is somber and introverted, but she could really belt it when she wanted to. The shows with EL VY were just two of her three NYC shows this weekend. She also played a late show at Mercury Lounge with Eliott Brood on Saturday (Mina Tindle was supposed to open the MHOW show but had to cancel).
If you haven't yet, read our interview with EL VY. More pictures from Bowery below...
"We had a bit of a sense of direction as far as where wanted it to head but no hard and fast rules." - Brent Knopf on EL VY's debut "Return to the Moon"
photo of Brent Knopf & Matt Berninger by Deirdre O'Callaghan
Both well known for their respective other projects, The National and Menomena, Matt Berninger and Brent Knopf seemed to be deliberately reserved about their collaborative project EL VY, and its debut release, Return to the Moon, at the end of last month. Largely absent of the distinctive characteristics that both musicians have established to much critical acclaim and success, Return to the Moon is a sort of happy accident, a collaboration in spite of itself and what would understandably be assumed as the antithetical creative approach of both musicians. Considering that fact, it's not surprising that Return to the Moon still manages to evoke the tendencies of Knopf and Berninger while at the same time embracing a sort of mirrored image of what both might otherwise be given to in their other creative endeavors.
There's still the same baritone croon familiar to those fans of The National, and Knopf's innate sense of atmospheric balance in sound and scope is equally as present. With EL VY, the immediate contrast is that while still familiar in the context of its creators, the storyline is less an aesthetic of melodrama and lush musical arrangements and more an inside joke, albeit one just as seriously constructed, that both musicians allow the listener to be in on. It's a subject I brought up in my recent conversation with both Berninger and Knopf as well as the creative contrasts, if any, they observed in bringing the music together for EL VY.
EL VY are on tour and will be playing two sold-out shows this weekend at the Bowery Ballroom this Friday, November 13, followed by Saturday's performance at the Music Hall of Williamsburg.
BV: This is kind of a departure for both of you, considering what Menomena and The National sound like, but there are those underlying idiosyncrasies where it still functions on a sort of darkly humorous level. Is that something you felt while making the record or something you were aiming for?
Brent Knopf: Berninger is a master at lyrics that are simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking and just completely dead serious but also nonsensical. [Laughs.] I think that's how life is, so finding a way to blend those things together always feels more real to me.
Matt Berninger: I think that all my writing in terms of lyrics, I kind of do that even with The National. Meaning that, melodrama is something I love. An exaggeration or absurd, fantastical metaphors for real small issues are what I do in The National, too, so I think that's a little bit of my safety armor for me to actually be able to talk about real things. I kind of do an exaggerated melodramatic version of the real situations, so it isn't that different with EL VY. I think even with The National I'm a funny writer. I write about serious stuff, but I try to do it in a funny way, sometimes? I don't know. [Laughs.] People never think of me as being a light person, and I wouldn't describe myself as that, but maybe this record feels lighter or feels funnier because the backdrop of a lot of the writing has a different personality. I was only writing lyrics for this while listening to music, and that's how I always do it. Brent was opening all these windows, and I was just sort of jumping out of them and kind of following him. So yeah, I wasn't trying to make a record that was making some sort of statement about music or anything like that, but I was definitely writing about myself in a kind of absurd way. "I'm the Man to Be" is a self-portrait, but it's turned up to eleven. [Laughs.]
by Andrew Sacher
EL VY, the new collaborative duo of The National singer Matt Berninger and Menomena / Ramona Falls' Brent Knopf, release their debut album Return To The Moon today via 4AD. If you've been following along with the album's rollout, then you've already heard five of the eleven songs and you know this thing is pretty diverse. There are some funky songs, some somber songs, some arty songs; really not one song sounds like any other, but not at the expense of this being a cohesive album. Some of it quite literally sounds like The National meets Menomena, and other parts don't really sound like either of those bands. Whatever the song's vibe is, it's Matt's distinct voice that makes this thing instantly familiar and likable. His lyrics are as personal as ever, and like he's done before he loaded this thing with music references (Husker Du, The Smiths, Minutemen, The Beatles). It's too good of an album to write off as a mere side project, and now you can hear it in full via Spotify below.
photo by Kim Metso
The National guitarist Aaron Dessner's house in Ditmas Park (which is right down the street from his brother Bryce's house) is now on the market. It's also the house that the band uses as their recording studio and which frontman Matt Berninger was renting the upstairs of. Brownstoner reports:
The shingle house at 236 Stratford Road in Ditmas Park has a porch swing, two-car garage and recording studio. But perhaps the most remarkable thing about it is the identity of the seller, The National's Aaron Dessner.The asking price is $2,350,000 and the listing is up here. As the Brownstoner article points out, in addition to The National recording High Violet and Trouble Will Find Me in the house, Sharon Van Etten recorded Tramp there too.
Technically in Beverly Square West, though many would call it Ditmas Park, the house cost Dessner $735,000 when it he bought in 11 years ago, in 2004, from sellers who had lived there for decades.
He renovated extensively, and it shows, with a relaxed organic-modern feel. The just-renovated exterior has cedar siding, Ipe on the porch and a porch swing.
Inside, there are original parquet floors, early electric light fixtures, a tiger oak staircase, paneling and stained glass windows. The fireplace in the living room works.
The kitchen has wood countertops and the bathrooms have classic white subway tile.
Two million might seem like a lot, but this is a big house with history in a popular neighborhood, the Brooklyn real estate market is hot, and really two million starts to look like nothing when you realize how much the NYC ex-home of Billie Holiday costs.
Earlier today, Matt Berninger's other band EL VY released a new song.
photo: The National at Barclays Center in 2013 (more by Dana (distortion) Yavin)
Although The National haven't released an album since 2013's Trouble Will Find Me, they've had a very busy two years. They premiered their documentary, Mistaken for Strangers, last year at the Tribeca Film Festival and toured the US and Europe. Frontman Matt Berninger also recently formed a band with ex-Menomena member / Ramona Falls frontman Brent Knopf called EL VY and they're releasing their debut LP, Return to the Moon, on October 30 via 4AD. Berninger spoke to Rolling Stone yesterday about EL VY and also mentioned that The National's seventh album is being worked on:
We're working on a record. We're collecting all the ideas. Those guys are coming out to California for a week. We're in the anything-goes, fun phase of that. That's happening, but no idea when.The National recently debuted a new song called "Roman Candle" during their set at a Los Angeles benefit show for non-profit Cooperative Education, which was co-founded by Berninger's cousins, Joe and Jeff Berninger. A few days later, they performed the song at Treasure Island Music Festival under the title "Checking Out." Before playing it, Berninger said, "It was called something else yesterday. Today it's called 'Checking Out.' Tomorrow, nobody knows." We'll have to wait until their pre-NYE shows in Aspen to see if it changes once again. For now, a video of the band performing it is below.
The National's only date besides those Aspen shows is an Australian festival in 2016, and they probably aren't adding much more for a while considering EL VY begin their tour in November. Since we last spoke, Wye Oak (whose drummer Andy Stack is in EL VY's live lineup) were added as support to select dates on that tour, including the NYC shows on 11/13 at Bowery Ballroom and 11/14 at MHOW. Both of those are sold out.
In other National-related news, guitarist Bryce Dessner joined German musician Alva Noto and Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto in creating the score for Academy Award-winning director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu's upcoming film, The Revenant. The film will be released on January 8. You can watch the trailer below.
In even more related news, the other Dessner (Aaron) and Justin Vernon announced their second annual Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival today.
Watch the video of The National's performance of "Roman Candle" aka "Checking Out" and check out the EL VY/Wye Oak tour dates below...
by Andrew Sacher
The National frontman Matt Berninger and former Menomena / current Ramona Falls frontman Brent Knopf have teamed up as EL VY ("pronounced like a plural of Elvis; rhymes with 'hell pie'"). Their debut album, Return to the Moon, will be out October 30 via 4AD, and the lyric video for its title track is out now. Matt's singing is pretty much the way it is in The National (so, really good) but musically this song is closer to bouncy '80s new wave. Watch/listen, and check out the album artwork and tracklist, below. Here's what the press release has to say about it:
Return to the Moon sounds exactly like you'd hope a collaboration between these artists would: Berninger's darkly funny, lyrical storytelling and his immediately identifiable sense of melody, offset by Knopf's playful, architectural arrangements and inventive production. Knopf explains, "I never worried about sending Matt something unfinished. He's able to imagine where it can go. He can grab the four bars that will become theThe duo is also going on tour with a backing band, including two NYC shows. Those happen on November 13 at Bowery Ballroom and November 14 at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Tickets go on sale Friday (8/7) at noon.
core of the track and develop them into something amazing."
The National and Ramona Falls are both currently preparing upcoming releases, so EL VY is not a replacement or a side project, but a glimpse into an alternate musical universe: a universe in which Berninger never left Cincinnati, and Midwestern punk Mecca the Jockey Club never closed. A universe in which Mike Watt and the late D. Boon of the punk band Minutemen are every bit as iconic as Mick and Keith, and a teenager's sense of rebellion is fed by the dark social politics of middle America.
"This record is more autobiographical than anything else I've written," says Berninger, "but the details aren't true. It's written in the voices of a few invented characters, composites of different people - myself, my wife, and other people I was thinking about."
All dates are listed below...
the whole crew (via)
The National have been talking about an all-star indie rock tribute to The Grateful Dead for long time now, and 2015 would be a good year to finally release it given all the excitment surrounding The Dead's 50th anniversary. It's seeming like a possibility that that will in fact be the case, as the band are/were up in Woodstock at Dreamland Recordings working on it.
We already knew they were planning to include members of Vampire Weekend, Bon Iver, Kurt Vile, The Walkmen and Megafaun, and from the pictures they've been posting on Instagram, it's looking like way more really exciting people are involved too. It had already been talked about to maybe include Sonic Youth guitarist and major Dead fan Lee Ranaldo, but it's now confirmed that he recorded at Dreamland with them too. Will Oldham (aka Bonnie 'Prince' Billy) is there (!). Kristian Matsson (aka The Tallest Man on Earth) is there. Walter Martin from the Walkmen is pictured. Cass McCombs and Phil Lesh collaborator Joe Russo, who both just played a Dead tribute in Brooklyn were there, and Sam Amidon too. Josh Ritter's band, etc member Josh Kaufman is there along with his former Yellowbirds bandmate Sam Cohen, and Takka Takka/Gabriel and the Hounds/sometimes National, etc member Conrad Doucette is in the pictures too.
Looks like this is turning out even more exciting than it first seemed. Check out more pictures from the recording sessions below...
The National Celebrating Brooklyn (more by David Andrako)
The National played Prospect Park last night (June 18th) for the 2nd show out of 3 at their home-borough venue. Having seen the band perform in so many less fitting places (from Barclays to Big Cypress), it was refreshing to finally catch them again on their home turf. "A lot of our marriages were consummated in this very park," joked singer Matt Berninger, "right where you're standing!"
For a long time fan of the band, the show's setlist felt like a bit of a field day, with "Daughters of the Soho Riots," "Ada," "Baby, We'll Be Fine," "Lit Up," "All The Wine" - and even "Exile Vilify" from the Portal 2 soundtrack all performed. We even got a visit by Sufjan Stevens for vocal assistance on "Afraid of Everyone."
"Daughters of the Soho Riots" was a particular highlight for me. It was performed with incredibly delicate attention and brought the audience to a notable hush. As the song concluded, Matt explained that a moth had flown into his mouth "during the most depressing part of the song," and as the show went on, the singer seemed to be losing more and more of his voice. "I can feel the moth down there, thinking," Matt explained a few songs later. "He's obviously depressed. He's just walking in circles."
The National have grown into their signature sound by juxtaposing gorgeous classically-inspired music with a fractured, imperfect singer stuck right in the middle of it all - and I was struck by the fact that the band actually sounded more beautiful when Matt's voice was completely exhausted. I wasn't sure if he was going to make it all the way through some songs, especially the relatively high "Pink Rabbits," but he powered through the 20+ song set with remarkable dedication.
And, despite cutting his head on the previous night, the singer still jumped offstage and wandered through the crowd for both "Mr. November" and "Terrible Love," stealing a fan's iPhone and videotaping himself sing the song's final chorus before chucking the device back onto the stage. In one especially endearing moment, the singer punted a glass of wine into the front row, only to quickly break through his badass bravado to immediately apologize to the people he had wet.
The National has always been so appealing to me because they operate as a band of humans - humans singing about human concerns - imperfectly sometimes, beautifully at others - but honestly always - and on this night, especially during "Fake Empire" when Matt's wound re-opened and blood started running down the side of his face, they felt even more human than ever before.
Lord Huron opened the show.
Check out pictures from the first night (Phosphorescent opened). Head to Prospect Park now if you've got tickets for the third (with opener MS MR).
Night 2 setlist below...
by Andrew Sacher
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah had some major lineup changes, and it's basically just frontman Alec Ounsworth's project now, but that's not slowing them down. They just announced that they'll follow 2011's Hysterical and their 2013 Little Moments EP with a new album, Only Run, on June 3. The new single, "Coming Down," features a noticeable guest spot from The National's Matt Berninger, and the song sounds pretty inspired for a band who's future seemed uncertain not long ago. Check it out below.
CYHSY have also announced a tour of the US and Canada to take place after the new album's release. It culminates with a hometown show in Brooklyn on June 28 at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Tickets for that show go on sale Friday (4/4) at noon.
All dates are listed, with the new song stream, below...
The Walkmen at T5 in 2012 (more by Gretchen Robinette)
As discussed, The Walkmen are going on an "extreme hiatus" but the members are keeping busy with solo material. Peter Matthew Bauer already mentioned that he'd release a solo LP, Liberation!, at some point this year, and though we're still awaiting more details on that, he did recently announce a couple solo shows, including one happening in NYC on March 6 at Baby's All Right. Tickets for the NYC show are on sale now. His other upcoming show is in Philly, and all dates are listed below.
Another Walkman, Walter Martin, just announced that his solo album, We're All Young together, comes out on May 13 via Family Jukebox. The record has some pretty impressive guests, including his Walkmen bandmates Hamilton Leithauser and Matt Barrick, The National frontman Matt Berninger, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah frontman Alec Ounsworth, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs members Nick Zinner and Karen O, the latter of which sings a duet with Walter on the record's new single, "Sing to Me."
You can stream that single, along with an illustration of the song's lyrics by Marcellus Hall, and the list of Peter Bauer dates, below...
The National at Barclays Center in 2013 (more by Dana (distortion) Yavin)
The 24th Annual Tibet House US Benefit Concert happens on March 11 at Carnegie Hall, and since we last spoke, the lineup has been expanded. Matt Berninger and Aaron Dessner join their previously announced bandmate Bryce Dessner (all of The National). Robert Randolph was added as a performer as well, Chuck Close, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard will be Honorary Chairpersons for the evening, and there will be a collaboration between UK poet Mike Garry and British composer Joe Duddell.
The new additions join the previously discussed lineup of Nico Muhly, Iggy Pop, New Order, Patti Smith, Techung, Joe Walsh, and artistic director Philip Glass. Tickets are still available.
UPDATE: The National also released "I Need My Girl" from 2013's Trouble Will Find Me as a single on iTunes today (2/4), and it comes backed with a cover of Perfume Genius' "Learning." You can stream that cover below.
The show happens in the midst of The National's extensive world tour, which currently has them over in Australia. Still no NYC dates for the full band at the moment, but the tour was just expanded (including Sasquatch). Updated dates are listed below...
photos by Sarah Frankie Linder
The first of two weekends of Austin City Limits went down in Austin over the weekend, a ton of official aftershows included. One of those shows was headlined by The National at Stubb's on Saturday. Thao and The Get Down Stay Down opened. Justin Vernon (aka Bon Iver), who was in town to play with his band The Shouting Matches, surprised the lucky crowd by joining the National for their last two songs, "Terrible Love" and "Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks" (Justin also sings on the album version). National frontman Matt Berninger gave the crowd even more love by jumping into it at the end of the latter. Watch video of both, along with a set of pictures from the show (though no pictures of Justin), and the National's setlist, below....
Why yes, we have posted a lot of stuff already today. Here's some more
Mythbuster? More like Myrthbuster. TV personality Jamie Hyneman apparently abandoned his first born. Luckily, NYC has a history of taking your poor, your tired, and your mustachioed; baby Hyneman has taken up residence at the New York Aquarium. (confused?).
Shades of Scott Tenorman: Radiohead Fan Sells Cheating Girlfriend's Tickets Online, Gets Invited to Hang Out with Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul.
Morrissey is in NYC right now and appeared on Colbert.
Is Spotify's business model broken? Anybody pay for Spotify Premium? (editor's note: I do)
For those who like free stuff: We are giving away two tickets to see Menomena at Bowery Ballroom on October 11 on the BV Facebook Page as well as tickets to Dark Dark Dark and Emily Wells at LPR on 10/13 and to The Darkness at Terminal 5 on 10/21.
Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" "received more performances on U.S. radio and television than any other song in the BMI repertoire during 2011."
The Rolling Stones "are pleased to announce the WORLD EXCLUSIVE first airplay of the brand new single from The Rolling Stones, 'Doom And Gloom' will take place on Thursday October 11th at 8:15am. The single can be downloaded on the same day from iTunes."
Toro Y Moi has announced that he'll release a new album called Anything In Return on January 21st via Carpark Records.
Hey arty types: design Richard Hawley's Guitar Skin!
I swear we're not making any of this stuff up.
More stuff below...
Justin Vernon & My Morning Jacket before the Grammys (by dariusjagjag)
Someone from Jagjaguwar tweeted the above picture not long before Justin Vernon shouted out "Jagjaguwar" to end his acceptance speech at the Grammys pre-show this evening (2/12).
Bon Iver won "Best Alternative Music Album", beating out Radiohead, My Morning Jacket, Foster the People & Death Cab Cab For Cutie. Other pre-telecast winners include Adele, Foo Fighters (who beat Mastodon, The Decemberists and TV on the Radio), Skrillex (who won three already and beat Cut Copy, Robyn, Deadmau5 and others), Kanye West (who also won three already), The Civil Wars (who won two already and beat Fleet Foxes), Levon Helm, Alison Krauss, Tinariwen, Louis CK, Cee-Lo, and Booker T Jones who won "Best Pop Instrumental Album" for the 2nd time, and nervously thanked Biz Markie, Questlove, Gabriel Roth (of Daptone Records), Matt Berninger (of the National), and Lou Reed.
Arcade Fire also won another Grammy already (for Best Recording Package).
And that was just all the stuff they don't show on TV. The regular show with all the big awards (and possibly more for Bon Iver) starts at 8pm EST, Whitney Houston tribute included.
* Jack Black makes "indie cred" joke that includes "Bon Iver" while introducing Foo Fighters
* Denise from PS22 in Adele commercial
The Forms at Cameo (more by Jessica Amaya)
As we discussed, The Forms have a new record on the way in Derealization due on February 15th. Pre-order it now. The Brooklyn band will celebrate the record that features the above Matt Berninger-guested track at Feb 12th at Rock Shop in Brooklyn. Tickets are on sale. The Andrew Thibaldeux-guested track is reposted up there too.
The NYC show is a single one-off date, much like their Boston show with The Dismemberment Plan. But the band will hit the road for a proper tour a week later on their way to SXSW. Full tour dates and a stream of the Matt song is below...
DOWNLOAD: The Forms - Steady Hand w/ Pattern Is Movement's Andrew Thibaldeux (MP3)
The Forms, who we interviewed a few short months ago, have a double LP due on February 15th via Triple Down Records/Threespheres, with the CD coming through Ernest Jenning. Half of their release is their new Derealization EP which includes revisited/remixed works and features appearances from Matt Beringer (The National), Craig Wedren (Shudder To Think), as well as members of Pattern Is Movement, Dirty Projectors, St. Vincent and others.
The 2-disc set will also include the band's earlier Steve-Albini-produced opus, Icarus. Download "Steady Hand", a fresh look at "Bones" from Icarus above, and stream it below where you'll also find the full EP tracklist. EP opener "Fire to the Ground" with Matt Berninger has especially been stuck in my head since listening recently.
The Forms are scheduled to play NYC at Cameo Gallery on Saturday (12/18), one of a few dates that the band has on their schedule that includes a Boston date with The Dismemberment Plan. That Boston show is the day before The Dismemberment Plan plays to a sold-out Webster Hall in NYC twice (1/29 and 1/30).
The Dismemberment Plan have also added dates to their reunion tour which now includes three DC dates and a March one in Seattle.
All tour dates and some videos below...
"Over the years, [The National's] Matt [Berninger] has accumulated a flock of snide nicknames from his band mates, including the Dark Lord, the Naysayer, Mumbleberry Pie, Mr. Knee Jerk, Mr. Sony Headphones and the Echo Chamber -- the last for the coterie of musically astute persons whom Matt frequently invokes supporting his opinion of whatever song they are arguing about. Since the only one of these gifted listeners Matt has ever introduced to the others is his wife, Carin Besser, who until recently edited short stories at The New Yorker, it is Aaron and Bryce [Dessner]'s belief that Matt is not the only fiction expert in the marriage. Matt's assessment of the situation is: "Everybody thinks everybody else has secret ulterior motives because we all do. We purposefully set up decoys and red herrings to attack a song. That we're all playing mind games is sort of funny, but it's also frustrating."" [NY Times]As promised, the new National album is streaming at the NY Times website now (down the left side next to the article).
The National's temporary NYC venue, the 'High Violet Annex', opens May 11th.
With the new National record coming out, don't forget there's also a new Clogs record, The Creatures in the Garden of Lady Walton, out March 2nd on Brassland (cover art above). On that record, the band, headed by Padma Newsome and The National's Bryce Dessner, will be joined by vocalists Shara Worden, Matt Berninger and Sufjan Stevens (who is also a confirmed guest on the new National). Clogs just put out a pre-album EP titled Veil Waltz. They're also playing live including a Brooklyn show at the Bell House on March 24th. Tickets are on sale now.
Shara Worden (aka My Brightest Diamond) recently headlined a show of her own at Bowery Ballroom one night before she made a special appearance for Haiti at Music Hall of Williamsburg.
More info on the new Clogs album and all dates below...
by Andrew Frisicano
DOWNLOAD: Aaron Dessner - We Were Born (from the Long Count) (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: The Long Count - Bull Run (feat. Kelley Deal) (MP3)
Twins! (the Dessners & the Deals)
The Long Count kicks off its three show engagement at BAM's Gilman Opera House tonight (10/28). Tickets are still available for the show, as well as for the Friday (10/30) and Saturday (10/31) performances.
The 70-minute music and multimedia piece, commissioned by BAM Next Wave Festival, is the work of Bryce and Aaron Dessner of the National and visual artist Matthew Ritchie. But they haven't been working alone. At every step of composing and arranging the Long Count over the past year, the brothers have tapped into their crew of skilled collaborators. The 12-piece orchestra that will be joining them on stage counts talents like NYC violist Nadia Sirota (who played last month's Archipelago series show), sax/bass clarinet player Colin Stetson, and Antony & the Johnsons' guitarist/violinist/conductor Rob Moose (who in particular assisted with some of the arranging duties).
As previously mentioned, the Breeders' Kim and Kelley Deal (twins) collaborated with the Dessners (also twins) on much of the music - they sing for nearly half of the show. Other vocal turns will be taken by the Nationals' Matt Berninger and My Brightest Diamond's Shara Worden.
All four singers play roles in the narrative of the Long Count, which takes its story from the Mayan creation myth of Popol Vuh. In that, multiple sets of twins (in the story and on stage) experience repeated cycles of life and death until giving birth to the world as we know it. The original tale ties in strongly with a ballgame played by its main characters - an element which the Dessners have woven in with their love of baseball, particularly Cincinnati Reds and the Big Red Machine.
Musically, the Long Count sections posted above, both from the show's work-in-progress performance at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on September 11th, showcase the piece's diversity. The first, "We Were Born," highlights the minimalist pedigree of the show, while "Bull Run" layers those elements with fearsome orchestral lines and extremely creepy vocals by Kelley Deal.
Paired with the spooky nature of Mathew Ritchie's animation (which you can preview here) the show looks to be a good Halloween night warm-up as any. In fact, the early Saturday night show has the most tickets available, and it follows a pre-show Q&A (ticketed separately) led by Brandon Stosuy (who's curating the Mount Eerie + metal show at Market Hotel later in the night).
Bryce generously answered some of our questions over the phone while in the last week of rehearsal (and in the hectic center of CMJ week). More photos from the production, and that interview, where he reveals the existence of an unreleased Christmas album he made with Sufjan, details on the new National record and more, below...
by Andrew Frisicano
Speaking of Nico Muhly, he just played a Wordless Music show at Columbia's Miller Theatre on September 9th. There he performed with '802 Tour,' a round-robin style stage show with frequent collaborators Sam Amidon and Thomas Bartlett...
Mr. Bartlett's piano-driven ballads, including some from a forthcoming CD, "The Conformist," had a shadowy, confessional intimacy that was accentuated by his tremulous, nearly whispered crooning. In sharp contrast, Mr. Amidon affected a ragged backwoods yelp for traditional shape-note songs and other folksy material.Barlett's new Doveman CD, The Conformist, which features Muhly and Sam Amidon prominently, will be out October 20th on the Brassland label. Also featured on the disc are the National's Matt Berninger, Aaron and Bryce Dessner and Bryan Devendorf, a string section, and additional guest spots by Martha Wainwright and Norah Jones.
Mr. Muhly's appealing instrumental compositions drew on Philip Glass's harmonic stasis and the rhythmic vitality of Stravinsky and Ligeti, mixed with a flair for electronic counterpoint that was all Mr. Muhly's own. Yuki Numata, a terrific violinist from the ACME group, brought out an ardent romanticism in "Honest Music," for violin and electronics....
Where genres had been gently mixed during the concert, in an encore medley they were mangled outright. Mr. Muhly waxed rhapsodic at the piano in Mariah Carey's "My All"; Mr. Bartlett offered a limpid rendition of Neil Young's "Only Love Can Break Your Heart"; and Mr. Amidon turned R. Kelly's "Relief" into a suitably crooked hootenanny singalong. [NY Times]
Doveman will be playing fall-winter dates (not announced yet), and unless they are solo shows, those will probably come after the Sam Amidon/Nico Muhly European tour (also with Ben Frost and Valgeir Sigurðsson) that runs October 24th to November 12th. The Eurotrip is less than a week after Muhly appears at the New Yorker Festival to discuss "Radical Opera" with Rufus Wainwright in a talk moderated by Alex Ross.
Martha & Rufus Wainwright recently played with their father at Highline Ballroom, and will both appear in an upcoming show at Carnegie Hall. Rufus also has another benefit show coming up in NYC soon.
The new Doveman track that National frontman Matt Berninger sings on, is streaming at Pitchfork.
Doveman album art above. Tracklist and some interesting videos, below...