Written by our Ambassador for Germany, Austria and Switzerland

10th anniversary of High Violet by The National

The National
Photo: Graham MacIndoe
Athanasios Kouklas
Written by Athanasios Kouklas, our Ambassador for Germany, Austria and Switzerland
You're reading an article by a Festileaks Ambassador. These are reporters located throughout Europe and the world. The ambassadors write about what is happening in their region, in a way you can only do when you're a local. Articles by ambassadors are in English. Read more.

On Sunday May 10 2020, it is 10 years since the American indie rock band The National released their fifth studio album High Violet.

Since the formation of the band in 1999, The National have released eight studio albums and managed to achieve a festival headliner status in a relative short period of time. The release of High Violet in 2010 marks a milestone in the band’s career as it was their highest charting effort at the time. As a celebration of the album’s 10th anniversary, we will be having a look at what made this record so special.

Tracklist

The album contains eleven songs and lasts approximately 48 minutes. At first glance, one could observe that the album features some of the band’s most known songs including ‘Bloodbuzz Ohio’, ‘Sorrow’, ‘Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks’ and ‘Terrible Love’. When Matt Berninger, singer-songwriter and frontman of The National, was asked about the lyrical themes of the record in a recent 10-year retrospective on High Violet, he told that these included ”trying to figure out who you are and if home is a place”. In addition, a few of the songs were written with his wife and deal with the issues of family, time, movement and the impact of fatherhood. For many, the centerpiece of the album is ‘Bloodbuzz Ohio’, which is a powerful expression of a person’s distance from his home. 

Did you know that…

  • …on April 2010, a low-quality version of the album leaked onto the internet in its entirety. As a result, The National announced that the album will be streaming on The New York Times’ website for a week before its official release.
  • … the record features guest spots from indie rock musicians such as Sufjan Stevens (on “Afraid of Everyone”), Bon Iver‘s Justin Vernon and Arcade Fire‘s Richard Reed Parry (on “Conversation 16”).
  • … the sculpture on the album cover was created by artist Mark Fox, and is called The Binding Force.
  • … the idea for the album came when the band was supporting R.E.M in 2008, and  Michael Stipe teased the band by saying, ‘Why don’t you guys just write a pop song? Why don’t you write a radio hit?’ , advising them also to solve any of the conflicts that existed within the band:
  • … the band’s energetic performance at the second stage of Latitude Festival in 2010, had as a result for them headline the main stage the following year.
  • … a few months after the release of the album, the National played in front of over 25,000 people before a speech by President Obama at a rally in Wisconsin.
  • … The National will be releasing a 10-year anniversary expanded edition High Violet, on Friday June 19, 2020, This will include an alternate version of ‘Terrible Love’, bonus tracks ‘Wake Up Your Saints’ and ‘Walk Off’ and live cuts.
  • In 2019, The Nationa was voted Festileaks act of the year.

The National

The National are one of the most critically acclaimed bands in the world. The Americans have become successful with their classic indie rock songs. The band is also often praised for their energetic and intense performances. Since its formation in 1999, the band has released eight studio albums. Two of them, High Violet and Trouble Will Find Me, were certified gold. On March 2020, to commemorate the celebrations for the 10th anniversary of High Violet, The National released a concert film of their performance in NY, one night before the album’s initial release. You can see, the entire performance n the video above.

Athanasios Kouklas
Molecular Biology student, currently living in Switzerland! From Thessaloniki, Greece. Travel, music and festival enthusiast. Been to Pinkpop, Rock Werchter, Rock am Ring, Southside and numerous concerts of all kinds in Europe. Favourite bands include: Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Rammstein, Foo Fighters, Motörhead and The Rolling Stones..