47. The National
Years active: 1999 - present
Influenced: Monotone vocals stylings, Local Natives
Hometown: Cincinatti, Ohio
Jam: "Gospel." This one isn't about the good news, but the religions of consumerism, nationalism, boredom and warfare that do battle with our best intentions.
Despair fringes the edges of Matt Berninger's baritone, and his deep-throated prophecies and poetics separate The National from a myriad of other compelling alt rock bands in the '90s. Mixing politics, unrequited love and often hopeful, tiny observations about obscure elements of life, the impact of this group on the early 2000s was incredible and cited by critics and casual music listeners alike. It is impossible to give Berninger all the credit, though; brothers Aaron and Bryce Dressner's guitar work shackled against Bryan Devendorf's on-point drumming provide the perfect backdrop for unfurling emotional admissions. The dark space of the mind that The National inhabited was an indicator of the confusion that the turn of the century and quickly changing state of the world had enacted on—literally—the national psyche.