Thursday, December 27, 2007

Reviews:: The Avett Brothers Emotionalism

We are coming to a close this year, and I'm trying to fill in the gaps for records I didn't post about that I really should have. The two biggest oversights are Orillia Opry and the Avett Brothers. While Orillia Opry is going to be one of the next big things to run through Canadian music, I think The Avett Brothers are going to go largely unnoticed by the masses. It's tough to make noise writing melodic roots music, even when it is laced with the variety and raw emotion that these songs tare.

Emotionalism opens up with the track Die, Die, Die and in a shocking way, the simple guitar, banjo, and drums become engrained in your brain, forcing you to sway along obediently. The melody is incredibly ear catching, but it's the chorus that really changes things. I'm not sure many bands write a build that has you ready to burst with happiness as you sing along happily to the chorus (especially when it is a just a repeat of the morbid title). But it's that simple: one song and you are hooked.

For me, the beauty of this record is in the little things. The Avett Brothers are just three people, and never try to be more. They don't cover up mistakes with studio magic, opting for a more honest release. They make tracks with nice harmonies that are balanced by simple layers of sounds, but the tracks always feel as spacious as an open road. Instead they say more by saying less; a piano bridge to keep you honest, or the crash of a cymbal to make sure you are paying attention, but giving you the room to explore.

Whether its the 50s rock n' roll (just listen to Will You Return? and try not to think of records your dad used to play) that mesh with the blue grass banjo picks and stand-up bass, Paul Simon world music (Pretty Girl From San Diego) or the soothing ballads the simple, but often unexpected combination of sounds forces the Avett Brothers to really work hard to keep you interested. With so little on the canvas, mistakes would be glaring, but instead the record floats passed easily.

On the surface, A Pretty Girl From Chile is just another ballad, but when you the screamed harmonies come in, you see the rawness that the Avetts can deliver. From that moment, the song evolves into a latin fueled, hand-clapping, foot-stomper (and even uses some lo-fi indie style voice recordings) before exploding into a electric feedback, drum crashing outro. Not many bands would have the balls to try this, especially at the midway point of a record, and even fewer could pull it off.

The piano that dances behind the emotion filled Salina sets the tone for the song, but the homesick lyrics are the star. They let the words echo over top of strings or banjo, making them feel as distant as a small time band must feel on the road on those nights when you wonder why you continue with the struggles. You can almost hear the clank of beer bottles as the brothers sings, eyes closed on All My Mistakes and it refreshes your love of music. Or at least it did for me.

MP3:: Die Die Die

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Posted at 10:21 AM by ack :: 0 comments

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