12 Years Ago: The National’s Self-Titled Debut Album Released
These days, the National are a household name in the indie rock world, but 12 years ago, when they issued their self-titled debut on the day before Halloween, they were a little-known quintet still located in their hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio.
The 2001 album showcased more of a country-rock sound than the National are known for today, earning justifiable comparisons to the Silver Jews and Tindersticks and highlighting the unique relationship between Aaron and Bryce Dessner, the identical twin brothers behind the band's dual-guitar assault. “I can stare at Bryce’s hands while he plays,” Aaron later told British newspaper The Independent, “and immediately play something that’s intertwined, and vice versa. It makes playing music together really exciting, because we never have to teach each other anything.”
That sibling synchronicity doesn't just come through in standouts like the loop-aided '29 Years' and ballad-like waltz 'Theory of the Crows.' It's also mirrored in the makeup of the rhythm section, which features fellow brothers Scott and Bryan Devendorf, who play bass and drums, respectively. The outfit is rounded out by singer Matt Berninger, a baritone who uses his distinctly deep and sonorous voice to deliver vocals steeped in poetic lyricism.
Watch the Video for the National's 'The Son'