The Washington, DC-based singer and producer Bartees Strange — an environmental lobbyist when he isn’t releasing emo and folk-punk records — loves the National. For most of 2020, Strange has been working on radically remaking the discography of the wizened New York indie rock band. Earlier in 2020, Strange released Say Goodbye To Pretty Boy, and EP of National covers. (We posted his versions of “About Today” and “Lemonworld.”) He’s not done. Today, Strange has released two more.
On his new two-song single, Strange has covered two of the songs from the National’s 2005 album Alligator. Alligator, the National’s third album, was also their breakout. If you listen to a small minority of us, it’s still their best. (As someone who saw the National on the infamous tour with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, I have to say that it’s still my favorite era of the band’s existence.)
Strange has released his versions of “Looking For Astronauts” and “The Geese Of Beverly Hills Road.” The original songs are both grand, majestic pieces of indie rock. In Strange’s hands, they have taken on some big changes. Strange has turned “Looking For Astronauts” into mutant club music — something I never thought I’d hear — and he’s done “The Geese Of Beverly Road” as a mellow, ruminative mostly-acoustic track. Check out Strange’s covers, as well as the National’s originals, below.
Strange’s versions of “Looking For Astronauts” and “The Geese Of Beverly Hills” are out now on Brassland, the label that the National’s Dessner brothers co-founded.