Think The National meets Joy Division, but way harder to find.
NO gets pretty literal about those windswept melodies.
One of the happiest side-effects of travelling is the realization that around the world radio has not died the ignoble death it has in North America. Rather remarkably, in many countries not called Canada, the radio is still a viable avenue to discover new music, and not a grim dirge of enforced nationalistic content. And, ironically, it was only after leaving North America that I've discovered certain bands and musicians from my native shores.
You're probably not going to hear NO (the band) on any station in Canada, and on less than a handful in the U.S. It wasn't until I had terrestrial access to BBC Radio 6 that I heard them at all, sounding like a willful cross between The National and Joy Division. (Sidenote: not since The Music have I had such a hard time searching for a band online. I don't want to discourage creative band-naming, but let's just leave verbs and prepositions alone, shall we? I'm looking at you, The The.)
Because NO exists at a time where music is both experiencing tremendous freedom and amazing restraints in its distribution, you can download its entire debut EP on its site for free. If you're not the kind of person who will enter her email address in order to receive free music, let me direct you to "Stay With Me," that first song that sent me looking fruitlessly online.
"Stay With Me" enjoyed some brief fame for a video that featured animated crash test dummies in love, frolicking about in fields and generally acting strangely. I'd caution against this being your first experience with the song, not because it's a bad video -- far from it -- but because it becomes inextricably linked with the song's meaning once you've seen it. Instead, head over to their Bandcamp and, if possible, listen to the song with your eyes closed. In this state the opening lines, "I'm only human, I'm full of mistakes," sounds like an admission at a Humans Anonymous meeting. The song is full of tears, but of the resilient, fighting kind. I'm married now, but if my wife ever left me this is the song I'd reach for to blast out of a stereo held over my head.
Stay with me
Isn't there a place for me inside your heart
Stay with me
We were never meant to be apart