Posted in Album Reviews

The National – First Two Pages of Frankenstein (2023)

While the band has not released anything since 2019’s I Am Easy to Find, members of The National have been busy with solo albums and working extensively with other artists. Anytime the band gets back together is a reason for high anticipation.  And so arrives First Two Pages of Frankenstein with much talk about the writers block that singer Matt Berninger suffered through during the process.

Like their younger colleagues, this time around The National brings in a slew of guest vocalists including Sufjan Stevens, Phoebe Bridgers, and world conquering Tayler Swift. Stevens helps on the minimal album opener, “Once Upon a Poolside” but neither Bridgers tracks really hit.  Swift’s appearance is more memorable as she sings lines back to Berninger and adds her own style on lines like “The last thing you wanted/It’s the first thing I do”.

When it’s just Berninger, the songs tend to lean heavily on relationships moments.  “Eucalyptus” sees a couple splitting up their possessions during a break-up including the records. “New Order T-Shirt” has a cascading beat laying the bed for “split second glimpses and snapshots and sounds”.  This new release sees the band quiet and introspective, what’s missed is the band rocking out especially when they have a stellar rhythm section of brothers Bryan and Scott Devendorf.  They are only truly unleashed on “Tropic Morning News”.   Instead, the band opts for electronics that all start to blend into one another as the album continues.


Posted in Album Reviews

Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher (2020)


It was almost a year ago that 26 year old Phoebe Bridgers released “Garden Song”, the first track from 2020’s Punisher album.  The track is emblematic of the rest of the album that features many lowkey songs that are good, funny, and clever in parts.  “When I grow up, I’m gonna look up from my phone and see my life”.  “Moon Song” is slow moving that casually mentions, “we hate Tears in Heaven/but it’s sad that his baby died”. The pace quickens on second single “Kyoto” that displays an indie rock touch.

The last time we hard from Bridgers was as part of the boygenius trio along with Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker who make an appearance here on the banjo lead “Graceland Too”.  “Chinese Satellite” sees the drums buried in the mix while Bridgers sings, “I want to believe/instead, I look at the sky and feel nothing”.  The music here resembles one another, where the album stands out is on the lyrics. Punisher was a critical darling appearing on virtually all the year end polls. A few good tracks with several memorable lines that will cause genuine listener smiles is where Punisher really stands out.