The experience and emotions tied to listening to Kid A are like witnessing the stillborn birth of a child while simultaneously having the opportunity to see her play in the afterlife on Imax.
What they've constructed here is a new kind of electronic pop-- one which is machine-generated and revels in technology but is also deeply human, never drawing too much attention to its digital nature.
The National are stuck somewhere in the emotional recesses of life, the characters in their songs adrift on roads both literal and metaphorical. They're stuck between the country and the city, but not in the suburban or exurban senses-- their music reveals the parallels between small-town everybody-knows-everybody drama and big-city alienation. The Brooklyn (via Cincinnati) quintet engage with their American anxiety with a somewhat European elegance, and Alligator-- their third album and first for Beggars Banquet-- finds them pushing the tempos and trying on bigger shoes without losing the stately sense of pacing and dour melody that made their first two albums so pleasing.
Deerhunter toured with Nine Inch Nails this summer, making a stop at Colorado's famed Red Rocks Amphitheater. That canyon found the Atlanta noise-rock quintet at a precipice. In the few months prior, Deerhunter had added a new guitarist, Whitney Petty, to replace the departed Colin Mee. Lead singer Bradford Cox had released his debut solo album, Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel, under the name Atlas Sound. The band's third album, Microcastle, and its would-be surprise bonus disc, Weird Era Cont., had both leaked half a year before they were due in stores. U nimpressed NIN fans were writing blog posts comparing Cox to Geddy Lee.