The National: High Beams (demo)


Brassland, the label founded by Alec Hanley Bemis and twin National guitarists Aaron and Bryce Dessner, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this month by giving away a song a day in November.

Now, I’m only about 19 days late on this, but there’s still time to get free goodies – and you can easily find some of the tracks Brassland already has given away.

The National, now playing to some 18,000 people these days, got its start from the New York-based label, and any fan (new or old) should take the time to explore the band’s early work on Brassland (not to mention other artists on the label like Baby Dayliner, Doveman and more). On Nov. 3, the label’s giveaway was a song called “High Beams,” which apparently is one of the earliest known demos by The National and has been out of circulation for five years (its last likely appearance coming on a 2005 Music For Robots compilation).

I believe the download link has vanished, but it’s still available to stream via SoundCloud below. As a demo recorded in 2000, this is obviously not the polished product we know now. But it’s great that the National and Brassland have offered it up, letting us trace the band back to its humble beginnings. Still, even in an early demo (and with the benefit of 10 years of material to compare it to), it’s pretty clear to see where the National was headed.

Pitchfork posted Brassland’s giveaway schedule, which includes another National track on Monday (“Mr. November” perhaps?).

Another of my favorites of the batch has been the Baby Dayliner track “When I Look Into Your Eyes,” a new song that is exclusive to the giveaway. New Baby Dayliner is always good in my book. Or as one commenter once said: “Baby Dayliner is pure tits.” I think that works well as a promotional quote for the next album.

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