Shake of that post-Holiday hang-over and warm up from this winter chill by catching the awe-inspiring Clutch perform at The National down in Richmond tonight. The boys from Germantown love them some winter touring and tonight kicks off the latest in their long tradition of short winter tours.
I have been a fan of Clutch for many years and have seen these blues-stoner-metal masters put on some truly spectacular shows. Most recently, I got a brief taste of their current live show at the 9:30 Club 30th Anniversary Concert. Needless to say but Clutch’s hurricane-force mini-set that day completely blew me away and showed off an epic quality of Clutch that has me thinking this already phenomenal band has reached the next level of performance. While I lament the fact that they are not playing their traditional Christmas-time show at the 9:30 Club this year, Clutch could not have picked a better venue than The National in Richmond as a substitute. I expect full force, psych-metal annihilation in that high-ceilinged theater tonight. Don’t miss it!
w/ Kylesa, Righteous Fool, Hex Machine
@ The National
While I consider my Best Concerts list to be a pretty definitive guide to what concerts totally rocked socks in the DC area in the past year, I think that top album lists are a bit more vague and really only serve as guides to albums the reader may have missed. I am much more a theme-based best-of list maker. I usually don’t compile a best albums of the year list, but I have received several requests for me to do one this year.
I acquire music rapidly and without much regard to year. So really albums are not so much attached to years for me as they are tied to whatever genre or sub-genre kick I am on at a given time.* It was actually pretty difficult for me to put together my starting list. A lot of what I thought were 2010 albums were actually from ’09! That said I did put together a list of about 50 or so albums from this year that are worthy of mention. From that list I battled them down to a top 10. These are not the best albums of 2010, they are simply my favorite. Maybe you’ll find something new here to check out. Maybe you won’t. Readers you asked for it, you got it. My picks in reverse order (along with a taste of each) after the jump…
The National are blowing up huge in 2010. Of that there is no question. Their latest album “High Violet” debuted at number three on the Billboard Top 200 when it dropped last month. It has been nearly impossible to avoid their massive campaign of television and festival appearances, rave album reviews in print and online, and their inventive use of web-isodes and internet video exclusives. When a band gets pushed this hard it gives one pause. Do they have the chops to back it up or is this all a smoke screen to sell shoddy product? In the case of The National it is readily apparent to the listener of “High Violet” or the attendee at one of their concerts that this is a very talented band that has hit their stride.
“High Violet” is the fifth album by The National. Their style has evolved over the years from alt-country inflected pop albums to a darker and emotionally huge sound (that frankly suits the band better). “High Violet” rounds out a trilogy of excellently written and performed albums. It is preceded by “Boxer” and “Alligator“. Vocally all three albums have just the right balance of melancholy, introspection, and frustration to provide a wealth of emotion to the listener. Musically The National have become more and more interesting with each of these three albums. “Boxer” may represent a lush musical peak for the band, but it is on “High Violet” that they employ just the right measure of restraint to their large sound, lending real gravity to their lyrics.
The National performed to a sold out crowd at DAR Constitution Hall on Sunday night. Like their last three albums, their live show proved that The National are seriously talented and exciting performers. The show heavily mined “High Violet”, “Boxer”, and “Alligator”; perfectly blending great songs from all three to balance moments of emotional honesty, musical cacophony, and pop brilliance. For a band that features lyrics of such introspection and woe, The National provide a surprisingly powerful and energetic concert that more than once had me thinking of The Cure and U2. After experiencing The National live on Sunday night, I imagine, that much like those two long-running and massively successful bands, The National could have a long and successful future crafting ever-evolving emotional pop music. Continue reading →