Archive for the ‘The Avett Brothers’ Category

[POSTPONED: September 24, 2020] The Avett Brothers [moved to June 9, 2021]

indexI saw The Avett Brothers a couple of years ago in Bethlehem. I’d always heard that they were fun live and yes they were.  But oh man, was I in a bad place.  I was far back and behind a wall of people who just didn’t seem to want to let me look between their giant heads.

I’ve had a few disappointing concerts, but this one was hugely disappointing because of that.  I thought I’d like to see them again as long as they keep releasing rocking anthemic songs.

It’s possible I’d only heard about this show after it had been postponed.  I’m not sure I would have gone all the way to The Mann for The Avett Brothers (especially since I was going to be there the night before for Nick Cave).  I was hoping that the postponed date would mean they’d play a show closer to me, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.  But we’ll see.

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SOUNDTRACK: CLEM SNIDE AND SCOT AVETT-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #26 (May 23, 2020).

I’ve never given a thought to Clem Snide.  Well, my thought is that he was a country guy that I didn’t want to listen to  Turns out, Clem is not a guy but a band founded by Eef Barzelay, who had a solo Tiny Desk back in 2010.

I do know Scott Avett from The Avett Brothers (although I never really know which brother is which).

Barzelay and Avett not only maintained social distancing throughout their set, but also rigorously enforced it with the aid of a visible tape measure.

This is my favorite Tiny Desk Home concert so far since it is done in a barn–and the sound is great!

Recording a Tiny Desk concert at home naturally subtracts a lot of familiar elements…. But when Clem Snide (the three-decade-old project of singer-songwriter Eef Barzelay) and special guest Scott Avett (the Avett Brothers co-founder who produced and performs on Clem Snide’s latest album, Forever Just Beyond) performed together in Avett’s barn, they added a few new features you’ve never gotten to hear at the Tiny Desk — most notably a noisy flock of birds and the unmistakable cries of a nearby rooster.

We’ve had a few disruptive animals at the Tiny Desk over the years, from the occasional dog to Bob Boilen himself, but this had to be our first rooster.

Their voices blended warmly as they tackled three spiritually searching songs from the (great) new record, Forever Just Beyond.

For the “The Stuff of Us” they both play guitar.  Eef’s is a full size while Scott’s is a smaller one (I can’t tell how many strings).  Avett sings the rather impressive high notes.

After encouraging everyone to brew their own fermented ginger beer for the immune system.

He introduces “Jews for Jesus Blues” by saying “A doubtless faith is a dead faith.”  The song from Clem Snide’s 2005 album End of Love, is a bouncy folk number.  Avett plays banjo.  The lyrics are interesting: “Now that I’m found, I wish I was lost” and “now that I’m saved, I wish I was dead.”  When the song’s over, Eef says, “not too offensive.”

Before “Some Ghost” the roosters start crowing.  Clem jokes, tell them chicken to shut the hell up.  Avett plays a full sized guitar and even sings some lead vocals.  Their harmonies are wonderful, too.  As the song ends, the rooster crows: “chicken go it right that time.”

Clem picks up a different,smaller, guitar for “Roger Ebert,” a song based on Ebert’s actual dying words: “This is all an elaborate hoax.”  Avett provides only percussion and vocals on this lovely song.

[READ: May 22, 2020] Five Years #8

Terry Moore seems like a very nice guy.  He draws people in love so wonderfully.  He draws adorable children and he specializes in a mischievous grin.

It’s easy to forget that he can be incredibly violent.  Well, I don’t know about him personally, but his art sure can be.

This issue has two violent deaths in it.  One is bloody, the other is not.

The one that is not is Stephanie.  The woman who wrapped Katchoo up in the mystery.  In several pages of wordless panels, Stephanie breaks into a secure building. She walks through a series of rooms activating secret panels.

She gets what she came for and heads out.  But when she steps outside, an unkindness of ravens swarms on her.

She drops her satchel and one of the ravens picks it up and flies off. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 14, 2016] The Avett Brothers

2016-08-14 21.01.57Sarah and I were supposed to go see The Avett Brothers but our child care debacle meant that only I could go.  Other people did bring their kids to the show (there were quite a few kids, actually).  Once I showed up, I suggested that she come with the kids but they were settled in for the night by then.  This would have been a much more fun show with Sarah–The Avett Brothers are a fun band meant to be shared with your neighbors.

But at the same time, among a sea of really short people, the two guys right in front of me were gigantic.  And worse yet, they talked to each other throughout the show by leaning in to each other.  I tried to watch the first two songs between their giant heads but they kept leaning in and blocking my entire view.  So I moved to the side of them and the guy next to me asked me to move back to give him more room.  Well, since I had paid for two tickets I was using the space.  So if Sarah had been there, we would have been really tightly packed and one of us would have seen nothing.

When I joked that since Sarah couldn’t come I hoped the show would be terrible so she wouldn’t miss anything, she retorted with a line from the great Amy Schumer Abusive Relationship sketch: “I hope the next time you got to a concert that the band doesn’t play the song you want to hear and instead they just play songs from their NEW ALBUM.”  And that came true when they did not play the couple of songs I really wanted to hear and did in fact play six songs from their new album.  I like a bunch of Avett Brothers songs quite a lot, although I don’t know a lot of their catalog.  I don’t have their first releases and I haven’t gotten their newest album (although I have listened to the new album a few times and did like it).

So if I’m not a huge fan, why go?  Well,I had heard that their live shows were epic–fun and wild with sing alongs and foot stomping and covers and all that good stuff.  So my expectations were high for a good time.  The crowd seemed largely into it–although as I said the people on either side of me were real drags.  It was even weirder when during a couple of slow songs, there was a lot of chatter around me.  I think everyone was distracted by the flashes of lightning that filled the sky in the distance.  Knowing that previous shows were cancelled, those flashes were worrisome.  The lightning stay far away and were actually very cool to see and despite the threats, it never rained on us and nothing was cancelled. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 14, 2016] Langhorne Slim

2016-08-14 19.00.02 I had planned to go to Musikfest early on Sunday to catch Kississippi who I missed at XPNFest.  But as soon as our child care plans fell through, I knew that that early show was out the window–missed them yet again.  I wasn’t even sure if I’d get there in time to see Langhorne Slim, but he went on a few minutes later than scheduled, which worked out perfectly for me.

I didn’t know Langhorne at all.  I thought he was a country singer but he’s more folkie, which I liked.  And he’s from New Hope, PA which makes us practically neighbors.

Musikfest had been plagued by thunderstorms this year.  Earlier shows had been cancelled or cut short because of them.  And like the other nights’ forecasts were mixed–from 0% to 100% chance of thunderstorms during the show.  I arrived just as Langhorne was coming out on stage and he introduced The Avett Brothers.  Scott and Seth sang a fun and spirited rendition of “You Are My Sunshine” to try to keep the rain away and it pretty much worked.

Langhorne joked that that was the last we’d see of The Avett Brothers that night.  And then he proceeded to play a number of songs just him and his guitar. (more…)

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hare1SOUNDTRACK: THE AVETT BROTHERS-Tiny Desk Concert #18 (June 22, 2009).

avettI have recently become a fan of The Avett Brothers.  Indeed, my first review of one of their songs was very mixed.  But I have come around.  And this Tiny Desk show is a great example of the power they have in a live setting–especially one as personal as this.

For this set the two brothers (Seth on guitar and Scott on banjo) play a song from their then new album (the beautiful “Laundry Room” complete with amazing harmonies and beautiful cello) I & Love & You.  It builds slowly but after about two minutes, it turns into a big (upright bass is included, too) catchy song.  And in the last minute it becomes a huge stompin’ track (predating those other banjo bands by a few years).

Scott’s voice is really powerful (Bob Boilen asks if he swallowed an amplifier).

The second song is a the time not released yet, “Down With the Shine” (they joke that they’re then going to play a song they haven’t written yet).  It’s full of phenomenal harmonies.  And the commentary afterward about traveling with the brothers is very funny.

The final track goes back to their previous EP and is called “Bella Donna,” a pretty ballad sung by Seth–he seems to do the more mellow tracks.  It’s a pretty ending to this all too short Tiny Desk Concert.

Watch it here.

[READ: January 10, 2014] The Hare

The Hare was the first of Aira’s books to be translated into English (back in 1998 with this simply gawdawful cover).  It has recently been republished by New Directions Press with a far more tasteful cover.  The translator, Nick Caistor, is the same although I noticed in an online excerpt that while the English language is the same, the New Directions version has translated a Spanish newspaper (El Grito) into English (The Crap) when it wasn’t translated in the earlier version.  But aside from that, it all appears to be the same.

I had been putting off reading this book because it is his largest book (most of Aira’s books are barely over 100 pages, while this one is almost 250) and I’d also read some lukewarm reviews of the book, so I saved it for last.  Of course, now he has a newly translated book out, so I decided it was time to read The Hare.

Not the best attitude for a book an it definitely impacted my early reading of the story.  And I’ll sum up that impact as saying I thought that the book itself was strangely flat but that the ending was fantastic.  Had I been more open t0 the absurdity I think I would have enjoyed the whole thing a lot more. (more…)

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harper septSOUNDTRACK: THE AVETT BROTHERS-“Open Ended Life” (2013).

AvettBrothers_CVR-560658fd89bf96b9dd1bf2b2be57013e64cb38cd-s1The folks at NPR love The Avett Brothers, and while I can see the appeal of their live show, their studio output just sounds like typical Americana to me.  Not bad by any means, but nothing all that special–honky tonk swing, occasional harmonica and expected harmonies.

The album was produced by Rick Rubin, which would have surprised me a few years ago but after his work with Johnny Cash it makes a lot of sense.

This song is a pretty rollicking good time (and the pretty ooohs are something of a surprise) especially by the end when everybody joins in–I’ll bet this is a hoot live.  The melody is certainly catchy.  I just want to like it more than I do.

[READ: October 1, 2013] “The Two Davises and the Rug”

Even though I recently complained about flash fiction, there is one author who does a very good job with it.  And that author is Lydia Davis.  She can generate an entire story out of a very simple concept . And while some of her flash fiction falls into that “it’s just a sketch, not a story” world, her longer short stories pack a lot in.

Like this one.  The entire premise of this story is that two people are interested in the same rug.  And they are both named Davis (bt are unrelated).

This Davis purchased the rug many years ago and has grown tired of it.  When her apartment complex has a sale for charity she puts in the rug and asks $10 for it.  But the sales people mark it up to $50 (it’s for charity after all).  No one buys the rug but another tenant across the way (also named Davis) is interested in it. But that Davis doesn’t buy the rug.  And when the sales is over this David takes the rug back home while that Davis wishes he had bought it.

The fun part of the story is that both Davises are indecisive.  So, this Davis wonders if she should sell the rug to that Davis and if so, for how much.  But if he really wanted it, maybe she should keep it, maybe it’s better than she realized.  And that Davis is unsure how well it will go in his house and he wonders if may be he could try it for a time first.  But this Davis is reluctant to give it up in case he really likes it or in case she really likes it.  And maybe she should give $50 to charity since she didn’t sell it.

And the story goes on like the, with insecurities running rampant. Fortunately it’s not a very long story (this is one instance where the short version pays off handsomely). And after we have gone through the various permutations, it may be hard for even us to know what those Davises should do.

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