Ten acts that clearly worship the Smiths

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8. The National More so than any other contemporary singer, Matt Berninger of the National could be called the American Morrissey. He's spent the last decade or so valiantly trying to do for New York City what Moz did for London -- populating it with imagined men and women leading desolate lives in a faded empire. He once told the redoubtable Jesse Thorn in an interview about his days as a "violent young weirdo" listening to "The Boy With the Thorn in His Side" on repeat as he drove a wire-screened golf cart through the driving range of the country club where he worked, getting pelted with golf balls hit by rich men and women purposely trying to nail him. "They'd cut corners when they built the cage," he said. "So I'd occasionally actually get hit with a golf ball, but whatever. I had Johnny Marr on my side." Class warfare in the flesh.

7. The Eastern Sea Austin's the Eastern Sea captures a good deal of Smiths-style breezy melancholy on the album Plague. Case in point is the song "Central Cemetery," an icy ode to a chilly afternoon spent in a hillside boneyard. Advance copies of the band's EP misspelled the title "Central Cemetary," which recalled The Queen Is Dead's "Cemetry Gates" intentionally or otherwise. On an unrelated note, the song contains the line "Kyrie, eleison" (Latin for "Lord, have mercy"), also found in the Mr. Mister song of the same name. Am I the only one who assumed for years that Mr. Mister was singing "Carry a laser on the road that I must travel"? Assuming that road runs through a Mad Max-style wasteland, it sounds like wise counsel.

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Jesse Livingston
Contact: Jesse Livingston