Brighton Magazine

The Brighton Magazine

Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Monday 11 November 2019

The National Return With Ambitious Film & Music Projects Prior To December Date @ The Brighton Centre

Back in early September 2017, director Mike Mills emailed Matt Berninger (The National's frontman) to introduce himself and in very short order, the most ambitious project of the National's nearly 20-year career was born and plans for a hard-earned vacation died. 

The Los Angeles-based filmmaker was coming off his third feature, 20th Century Women, and was interested in working with the band on...something. 

A video maybe. Berninger, already a fan of Mills' films, not only agreed to collaborate, he essentially handed over the keys to the band's creative process.

The result is I Am Easy to Find, a 24-minute film by Mills starring Alicia Vikander, and I Am Easy to Find, a 68-minute album by the National. 

The former is not the video for the latter; the latter is not the soundtrack to the former. 

The two projects are, as Mills calls them: "Playfully hostile siblings that love to steal from each other," – they share music and words and DNA and impulses and a vision about what it means to be human in 2019, but don't necessarily need one another. 

The movie was composed like a piece of music; the music was assembled like a film, by a film director. 


The frontman and natural focal point was deliberately and dramatically side-staged in favour of a variety of female voices, nearly all of whom have long been in the group"s orbit. 

It is unlike anything either artist has ever attempted and also totally in line with how they've created for much of their careers.

As the album's opening track, You Had Your Soul With You, unfurls, it's so far, so National: a digitally manipulated guitar line, skittering drums, Berninger's familiar baritone, mounting tension. 

Then around the 2:15 mark, the true nature of I Am Easy To Find announces itself:

The racket subsides, strings swell, and the voice of long-time David Bowie bandmate Gail Ann Dorsey booms out – not as background vocals, not as a hook, but to take over the song.

Elsewhere it's Irish singer-songwriter Lisa Hannigan, or Sharon Van Etten, or Mina Tindle or Kate Stables of This Is the Kit, or varying combinations of them. The Brooklyn Youth Choir, whom Bryce Dessner had worked with before. 

There are choral arrangements and strings on nearly every track, largely put together by Bryce in Paris – not a negation of the band's dramatic tendencies, but a redistribution of them.

"Yes, there are a lot of women singing on this, but it wasn't because, "Oh, let's have more women's voices,"" says Berninger. 

"It was more, 'Let's have more of a fabric of people's identities."

"It would have been better to have had other male singers, but my ego wouldn't let that happen."

The National play The Brighton Centre on Saturday 7th December 2019. CLICK HERE for tickets.

by: Mike Cobley




Share    

Credit Andy Sturmey

Taking place this weekend, Saturday 4th July 4th & Sunday 5th July, on what would have been the 2020 festival weekend, the Jazz FM's output will include live recordings from the Sussex-based, Love Supreme Jazz Festival

Creature Creature can, via the imminent release of their first collection of self-penned tracks, Two Finger Tantrum, be labelled the new flag bearers of rock. The Brighton-based five piece have furrowed a new burrow at the summit of an age old genre. With this debut album they will be looking over their shoulders at the also-rans for many years to come.


Returning after four years away, Aidan Knight's penchant for astute observations and personal reflections remains a compelling component of his songwriting.

Credit Nicole Nodland

On Sunset, Paul Weller's fifteenth solo album, which drops this Friday, sees one of the UK's most successful songwriters barely affected by the present situation that has placed the music industry, as much as the wider economy, largely on pause: “I haven't really been bothered by the lockdown, other than having to queue for food or medicine.” 

Extinction Rebellion Brighton are 'delighted' that Brighton and Hove Council have won £663,000 in government funding to increase space for active travel in the city.
'In Monochrome' Artwork

Of all the formative experiences Stonehaven musician Fair Mothers, AKA Kevin Allan, had while growing up, reading The Stranger, by Albert Camus, stands out.

Katie Elfer & ‘I Want to be Red'

Few people miss the daily commute, as many employees switch to home working to tackle Covid-19. Katie Elfer, a regular train passenger from Brighton, used the journey time to write her first children's book which has just been published.

Moy wrote and recorded second single No Talk's The Best Chat at the height of lockdown. Separated from his regular band, he discovered that collaborating on the track remotely was an unorthodox creative method given the live energy that's usually key to their work together.

As fierce as the changeable weather itself, the ethereal tones of Serbian-Canadian musician Dana Gavanski can stir a breeze and destroy like a storm

The ominous, fuzzed-out tone of a single guitar note. A foreboding piano line. Esther Swift's haunting, intricate harp. All of these combine to devastating effect on Harpy, a dark, swirling tale about facing up to what you've become with unflinching honesty, and the first single taken from Stonehaven musician Fair Mothers' new album. In Monochrome.

Every summer, towns and cities across the UK including Brighton are filled with LGBTQ+ people celebrating Pride, but this year that wasn't going to happen - until now.

Cat Walker is a Brighton-based author, who, having lived and travelled all over the world, has come to rest (for now) in sunny Saltdean, where she lives with her wife and baby son. 

Archive search

Search our archives for what's on and gone for the best of this city's theatre music comedy news and much more...







Organising a conference or event in Brighton?
See our Brighton Conference section.
Brighton web design by ...ntd