In 2010, Brooklyn (by way of Cincinnati, Ohio) indie rock masterminds the National unleashed one of the best albums of the year in High Violet. The group's fifth album overall, High Violet took the themes first established on their previous releases (especially 2005's Alligator and 2007's Boxer) and cranked them up to 11, indulging in all the orchestral constructions, tension-busting crescendos and profound sadness the band has made its specialty. High Violet is a gorgeous, thrilling release, but also a profound bummer.
It's refreshing to know that the five men of the National do have something of a sense of humor, even if their music doesn't always suggest as such. In the just-released new video for the song "Conversation 16" (one of the more anthemic tracks from High Violet), the group tapped comic Kristen Schaal (of "The Daily Show" and "Flight of the Conchords" fame) to play a wacky, lonely President of the United States. She is isolated and lonely even though she is constantly surrounded by Secret Service agents — one of whom, played by "Mad Men" star John Slattery, secretly pines for her and fantasizes about taking her away from her humdrum life as the leader of the free world.
Though that premise sounds like a downer, the video plays fast and loose with it (which is appropriate, considering the deceptively cheeky tune contains the chorus "I was afraid I'd eat your brains/ Because I'm evil"). Schaal gets seduced by a Russian political figure, which frustrates Slattery (he has to watch as she packs her official President of the United States thong). There is also a great fantasy sequence where Slattery gleefully jumps in front of an assassin's bullet for Schaal, much to her delight. And in the clip's key scene, Schaal presides over the pardoning of a Thanksgiving turkey, an actual presidential tradition that is extremely silly.
The National are nominated for a Performing Woodie at the 2011 Woodie Awards, where they will compete against fellow concert titans Girl Talk, Matt & Kim, Mumford & Sons and Robyn.