I know Iâ€™m late posting about this and I’m just another voice talking about it at this point. Well, let’s say it’s good enough that it’s worth another voice.
Sometimes a compilation album comes across thatâ€™s more than a collection of good songs; itâ€™s inspiration, in auditory form.
By sometimes, I mean about once every ten years. The last one I remember was the Lounge Ax Relocation and Defense CD.. It inspired me in a number of directions: the indie rock of Seam and the post rock of Rachelâ€™s. (Those are still two of my favorite bands of that era.) It was the first place I heard Shellac, June of 44 and the Mekons.
Much like that Dark was the Night, put together by the Dessner brothers of the National, is the sort of compilation that inspires one to listen to new music. Granted, it has good National tracks and Bon Iver tracks. We knew it would, after all. Where it succeeds is its lesser-known tracks.
The gorgeous Riceboy Sleeps track, for instance, is a great track from a band I’d never heard of. Ambient, instrumental and sprawling, it’s just beautiful. The Yeasayer track, a medium slow groove with layers of percussion and clapping and tightly wound but melodious vocals, makes me want to give them another try.
The many collaborations are also something to note. The Books with Jose Gonzalez (covering Nick Drake) put together a good track, as do Feist and Ben Gibbard. David Bryne sings on a Dirty Projectors track. Antony with Bryce Dessner put together a simple and gentle cover of Dylan’s “I Was Young When I Left Home.”
Now I’m not saying every track is a winner, but I think what’s important here is that, as a whole, the compilation is good enough to get you from beginning to end, to hear those tracks and bands you wouldn’t hear if you were skipping around to a few choice track. I’d recommend getting it.
Bon Iver – Brackett, W9 (streaming)
Riceboy Sleeps – Happiness (streaming)
You can pick up Dark was the Night on amazon
 Of course, I now know that it’s a side project from a band I do know (Jonsi of Sigur Ros’ side project).
Update: rewrote parts of it.