September 10, 2011

Scared to Love

I have this weird disdain for music artists that build cult-like followings. I have no idea why, and it’s strange how this manifests itself in other areas of my life since I tend to be extremely brand-, friend-, etc. loyal. It probably has something to do with feeling left out when I don’t “get it” right away. In most cases, this disdain causes me to jump on band bandwagons way past their peak popularity. With the Avett Brothers, however, my disdain delay actually helped me catch their comet at just the right time.

I don’t remember when I first heard of the Avett Brothers, but it was probably a while ago – probably a lot closer to their introduction to the music stage in the early 2000’s than their more recent rise to stardom. I sampled a couple of tracks and it just didn’t click. It was nothing against them and I’m sure it was nothing against me – my musical tastes just didn’t have the palate for it. A few years later, a friend and co-worker reintroduced them to me and they still didn’t take. Not all the way, at least, but they did pique my interest a bit.

And then they released I and Love and You. I’ll confess that I don’t have the most refined musical palate in the world. I’m a melody guy. And sometimes it takes a few listens for me to get past some of the different or unique qualities of a musical artist to really absorb the melody. The thing about I and Love and You is that it’s (the album) pretty much tailor-made for people like me. It is their mainstream introduction. And for me it was their bait. Now they’ve got me hooked.

Soon after I and Love and You (the song) came out, I got an Amazon credit for a $5 album in the Amazon music store. As I was browsing the options, I noticed there were a couple of Avett Brothers albums available for $5. So, I turned to my friend and co-worker for advice about which album to buy. After reading it, I found it to be a great primer for anyone looking to try out the Avett Brothers. It’s written with the insight of a longtime fan with only a hint of regret for the mainstream aspirations of their most recent album. So here it is, edited slightly for public consumption. Enjoy!

Mignonette is the first CD I purchased. It is a simpler, older sound, with more songs on the cd. It was understanding music in the wake of a breakup and hopeful in a time of changing jobs and dwellings – well at least that’s the point of my life I was in 5-6 yrs ago. It is hard to beat.

After Mignonette came subtle changes on Four Thieves Gone, and then the break out that was Emotionalism. They added a cello player for dimension, surprised people with more dynamic songs, even threw in a little electric guitar. This CD release is why I took a long lunch break to hear them at school kids a couple of years ago. I was happier than ever when it came out and I’m sure that helped to add a positive spin. But like the electric guitar song was overdone in concerts so too the relationship cast a shadow on the Avetts in general. It is fresh without the poppy feel of their latest CD (which is suffering much by association with anti-[redacted] sentiments.) Fortunately this CD is so good it shines through though – it may prove to be the peak of their creativity (if not their popularity). Also, very hard to beat.

Basically these are my two favorite CDs of theirs. If you happen to have any of their older CDs I would say try Emotionalism; otherwise, go with Mignonette – it’s classic. And more songs per dollar, which is always a factor for me ( :

P.S. After Mignonette, you might also enjoy their newest CD (I and Love and You). It’s a little too overproduced sometimes, but it does have some good songs, that seem to be popular with the kids and adults these days.