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High Violet

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Audio CD, May 11, 2010
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Editorial Reviews

High Violet, the new full-length record by the National, is a nervy, melodic, explosive and beautiful set of songs that find the band at the height of their collaborative powers. The music is wide-ranging in its moods, by turns intimate and rough, expansive and spare, full of stark angles and atmosphere. Berninger's singing wild, half-broken, sly evokes a feeling of being haunted, by love, by paranoia, by something just out of reach. High Violet may be The National's most thematically twisted record to date but it somehow also manages to be their most infectious and immediate.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 11, 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: 4ad Records
  • ASIN: B003BKF696
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (167 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,233 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

90 of 101 people found the following review helpful By MDF on May 25, 2010
Format: Audio CD
This album is one that I find myself only putting on when I am able to listen to the whole thing. I'm not going to say I didn't love Boxer or Alligator, but both of those albums have tracks that outshine the overall sound. High Violet is the exact opposite to me. The songs present work better together than broken apart. That's not to say that the songs can't stand on their own, but the overall effect that the album has as a single cohesive unit is absolutely jaw dropping.
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108 of 132 people found the following review helpful By Gerald Brennan VINE VOICE on May 11, 2010
Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
"High Violet" finds The National at a high point, poised to either find their way at last into the hearts and minds and stereos of Middle America, or to fall back--either into hipster obscurity in the bars and art galleries of Brooklyn, or hipster exile in the suburbs--and be mourned by their dedicated fans but unremembered by the public-at-large.

Ever since 2005's "Alligator" (or better yet, 2004's "Cherry Tree EP"), it's been clear to everyone who was actually paying attention that this is a band with the ambition, and more importantly, the skills to be the Next Big Thing. And yet they also have the canny hipster sense that it's unwise to look like you're actually trying. So this album finds them both writing anthemic choruses and mumbling them, crafting sharp tunes and sludging them up, and generally continuing to be infuriatingly fascinating.

The New York Times' recent glowing profile of the band--one could call it a puff piece, but this is a band that deserves puffing--alluded to the general critical sense that this is a band poised to make the musical equivalent of the Great American Novel. And while that's an accurate picture of their potential, it's still somewhat misleading. Their previous two works were like Bukowski set to music--they're edgy and darkly funny tales of urban alienation and angst and alcoholism, tremendously enjoyable, but still somewhat out of the mainstream. Whereas "High Violet" is more like Updike, with married-with-child lead singer Matt Berninger as Rabbit Angstrom, and a little extra angst on the side. He's settling uneasily into domesticity and starting to care about the things most people care about, but he's also trembling with fear, seeing danger around every corner. He promises us it isn't "Rabbit, Run.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Before I decided to buy this cd, I'd never heard of the National. Indeed, at first, I thought that I had read that there were only two band members. The National is a Brooklyn-based indie rock band formed in Cincinnati [hence "Ohio Blood Buzz"] in 1999. The band's lyrics are written and sung by Matt Berninger, a very low-key, but precise baritone. The rest of the band is composed of two pairs of brothers: Aaron and Bryce Dessner and Scott and Bryan Devendorf. Aaron plays guitar, bass and piano, Bryce plays guitar, Scott plays bass and guitar, and Bryan is the drummer - and a very fine drummer he is, indeed. Padma Newsome, from another band often adds strings, keyboards, and other instrumental layering. The National has an acclaimed indy history, though, after listening to High Violet, I found nothing of its caliber in the older albums, though they are good. Nothing to indicate the radical departure the group has taken.
The debut album, the eponymous The National was released in 2001 on Brassland Records, a label founded by band members Aaron and Bryce Dessner, among others. The 12 songs were an array of country/bar room/pop. I particularly liked "Beautiful Head", for its delicate roots orientation.
The National's second album, Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers, was released in 2003, and, like the previous album, was received favorably, though impact was not widespread.
In 2004, the band released an EP, Cherry Tree, which included the live favorite "About Today," as well as "All the Wine". The EP evoked further positive reaction, and its success landed them a successful tour.
Their 2005 album, Alligator, was met with much critical acclaim and featured highly in "Album of the Year" charts. Some reviews hailed it as one of the top records of the decade.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey T. Duda on November 16, 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I love this disc, but it frustrates me that these guys have released an expaned edition of this disc so soon after its initial release. If they had this stuff ready before High Violet's release, why not release the expanded edition then? This is the kind of thing that alienates had core fans.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By mpidiot on June 28, 2010
Format: Audio CD
The National's music inspires the head before it touches any heart. Matt Berringer's lyrics get you thinking if you are willing to think. His songs are not quite as obtuse as some critics argue. Try wading through Thom Yorke or Michael Stipe's figurative menageries for a proper representation of "obtuse." Instead, I suggest that Berringer is as playful and funny as he is insightful and poignant. His lyrics have the rare ability to capture personal and cultural conditions like Joseph Heller did in Something Happened or Catch-22. To me, High Violet has a caustic kinship with Heller's Something Happened and Lewis's Babbitt and Mainstreet. His album is a strident 2010 commentary on love, fatherhood, and relationships. There is no doubt that there is a drug-induced, "high," element to his aural stories. He exists as a ghost or in a etheral zombie-like trance throughout much of the album. The album's main trope, however, is the colors Berringer consistently interposes. Feelings are the colors of emotions. We don't necessarily perceive emotions. We witness them as feelings, as the colors of our emotions. Violet is a combination of blue and red. Most symbolic references to the darker colors associate them with sorrow, but violet, according to one of the more cogent websites, "is also the highest and most subtle specialization of light." It will be obvious, even after the most cursory of listenings, that fear and sorrow color much of this album. It is important to remember, though, that while violet can a "dark" color in a metaphoric sense, the color is a possible spiritual beginning as well. I suppose we will have to wait until the next album to find out what happens next. Finally, I agree with most critics that this album has a tighter thematic construction than Boxer and Alligator, but this does not mean it does not have some great songs. For example, "Conversation 16" is an incredibly well-written and melodic song.
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The National songs in the movie "Warrior"
"Start a War" plays during the film's opening. That and the live version of "About Today" at the end are the only National songs in the movie.
Sep 25, 2011 by Nickolas P. Hoffmann |  See all 3 posts
What is the difference between the "Special Edition" of 'High Violet'...
purple foil slip in case plus poster
Jun 14, 2010 by Dogville |  See all 4 posts
How Great is BloodbuzzOhio?
Totally awesome! Made my day, can't wait for the release date!
Apr 7, 2010 by K. Lance |  See all 5 posts
Vista PC Won't Recognize Disc
I have had the same problem with my macbook pro. My son's newer macbook recognizes it though. I even bought a 2nd disc from Amazon thinking the one I had was defective, but it also has the same problem. Plays in my car, but have had 2 cases where I even had to eject it from the car cd player... Read More
Jun 19, 2010 by Superabounder |  See all 4 posts
NPR is streaming High Violet for free
Just picked this record up last night. Really digging it, sounds great on vinyl. Double LP... here's a pic.
May 8, 2010 by Cass |  See all 2 posts
OK Computer comparison warranted? Be the first to reply
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