MUSIC: The National and 4AD Curate Grateful Dead Compilation


Posted on

The National is a reliable enough group as it is. Their albums are remarkable examples of consistency, capable of staying within their own sound while continually growing in their ability of making us feel sadder with each listen. But the band's brothers Dessner (Aaron and Bryce) have also made a name for themselves as curators. If you've been paying attention to indie rock for the last decade or so, you probably remember their previous compilation, 2009's Dark Was the Night. That comp featured nearly every make-sure-they're-on-a-mix-CD indie band of the era and now it's getting a similarly star-studded successor. This time around, it's not only a compilation but a tribute to the Grateful Dead entitled Day of the Dead that lasts six hours and comes out to 59 tracks. The compilation features Courtney Barnett, DeYarmond Edison (Justin Vernon's band before Bon Iver that became Megafaun, with Vernon and Bruce Hornsby on vocals; complicated enough for you?), Jenny Lewis, The War on Drugs, The Walkmen, Real Estate, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, and The Flaming Lips. That list barely scrapes the surface of how many incredible artists and bands contributed. Your favorite Pitchfork-approved band is probably on here and, if they aren't, they probably still were invited and just didn't have time. If you grew up with your parents playing the Dead, came upon them when you were seeking out older music for yourself or have never heard a single song by them, this compilation will still probably blow your mind. As with Dark Was the Night, it wasn't made just for the hell of it. It'll be released by 4AD for the purpose of proceeds going to the HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness nonprofit, Red Hot. The compilation isn't out until May 20 but the labell has already opened the gates to several of the covers on YouTube. For those eager to see this material live, a supergroup will be covering plenty of the material at Justin Vernon and Aaron Dessner's Eaux Claires music festival on August 12-13 Words By Mack Hayden Photo