Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Avett Brothers - I and Love and You (2009)

You really have to hand it to The Avett Brothers for their perseverance. Since 2002 they have averaged one CD release per year.  It took until their eighth disc, issued last year, before they were able to finally land a major label deal from American Recordings, a Columbia Records affiliate headed by producer Rick Rubin. He is renowned for working with The Beastie Boys, Run-DMC, Metallica, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Rage Against The Machine, and perhaps most famously, Johnny Cash. Rubin, currently the number two in command at Columbia, helped make the brothers stars with their latest album, I and Love and You.

Seth and Scott Avett are the lead singers for a trio that includes bassist and keyboard player Bob Crawford. They are ably assisted by an unofficial fourth member, Joe Kwon on cello. Scott, Seth, and others play drums in the studio but they use a full time drummer for concerts.

The very slow and quiet title track was the unlikely first single, becoming a big hit on college and alternative radio stations. Their followup, "Kick Drum Heart" is far more upbeat and couldn't be more different from its predecessor if it tried.

While electric guitars are part of the mix the band is mostly an acoustic outfit that often colors their sound with both country and folk textures. However, the trio feels like a rock act because they naturally resist adhering to a formula, they use overly frantic vocals that are decidedly more influenced by rock than any other style of music, and they have personalities that are anything but Nashville.

During their recent performance at the Appel Farm Arts & Music Festival in Elmer, NJ on June 5, 2010 I came away with the feeling I had just witnessed a rock band doing an unplugged set. For anyone who knows the brothers' history this shouldn't be a surprise because their first band, Nemo, was rooted in rock 'n roll. The act that became The Avett Brothers began only as a side project while Nemo was still active. Eventually the rock group bit the dust as the side project became their focus.

Admittedly, The Avett Brothers are not for everyone so before you dig into your wallet for the CD you may want to sample several videos from their live shows where you can see and hear some prime examples of their very loose and fun concerts.

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