#2. The National: Boxer (2007)- Hailing from Brooklyn, but originally from Cincinnati, The National developed a strong following over several years with a welcome brand of baroque-styled pop characterized by lead singer Matt Berninger’s deep Leonard Cohen-like vocals. 2005’s Alligator found the band approaching a zenith with their strongest offering yet. Somehow they managed to up the ante with Boxer. An enduring collection of songs featuring Berninger front and center along with twins Aaron and Bryce Dessner, and brothers Scott and Bryan Devendorf. The result is one the best collections of music released in the last 15-20 years. In every aspect, the album is near perfection. Songwriting? Check. Production? Check. Musicianship? Check. Vocals? Check. Drummer Bryan Devendorf’s muscular playing sets the tone alongside skilled guitar parts, horns, strings, and piano among others. Berninger explores a variety of different themes such as fake people [“Mistaken for Strangers”], two lovers fighting [“Start a War”], and the sheer jubilation of two people hiding out together away from the rest of the world [“Apartment Story”]. I’m not prepared to say that Boxer is the most important album to come out in the last ten years though and that is why it’s not #1. Still……its by far my favorite.
Faves: Mistaken for Strangers, Slow Show, Apartment Story, Start a War, Guest Room