Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Avett Brothers: A gateway drug

Without fail after I start either of our vehicles, if my wife has driven last, country will be on the radio. That's just how it is. Infuriating.

Before I get too deep into this post let me set the foundation with some historical info on me: I love music from zydeco to classical to dubstep to indy. All* types, shapes, sizes, ranges, genres (*expressly excluding country of all types, shapes, sizes, twangs.....). Ok, setting set. Maybe it's a cultural thing or misunderstanding...maybe my dislike steams from the very rational fear that a Toby Keith-ish man or woman could run this country (*shiver*). Aaaaaand that is as political as I will let this blog get, promise.

Fast forwarding to only a few months ago, several friends were discussing the Avett Brothers; somewhat in the dark on what their sound was, I dug in. iTunes quickly schooled me on all things Avett (ok, maybe "dug in" was too strong. To steal a reference from Jim Gaffigan [comedic genious], my research project took about as long as it takes for your order to appear at a Chinese food restaurant ...*opens menu* "I will have.....[food presented]......and here it is."). iTunes has its flaws and classifications is one of them, case and point: the Avett brothers are not "rock".  In fairness, they are described as "Alt-country" which I will accept for lack of a better term at the moment.  [Let me be clear.  I am not saying the Avett Brothers are country; they are not.]  I have to admit that the mention of "country" however in the description made me wince.  What I am about to write, I regret doing...I made a mistake.  Clicking the triangle-play button, I listened. Sadly I picked the wrong track (don't recall now which one, but it was a deeper cut, mistake No. 1).  I honestly didn't give it more than 30 seconds and said "nahhh" (mistake No. 2).

Fast forwarding further to a few week or two ago, another friend posted a video of the Avett Brothers live on FB (thanks Nirsh), it was Laundry Room and I was instantly and inexplicably hooked...dangerously teetering on disobeying a core music value that I've had for as long as I can remember protesting against anything country...which it's not...but it is reminiscent of country.  I love a fat kid [Greg] loves cake *swallows cake*.

Why I was an instant fan the second time is not easily explained. Maybe it was just me.  But the album I and Love and You is one of those albums that you plant in your rotation, water, listen, and it will grow on you (caution on actually watering your iPod).  There's a learning curve to new and different music like anything else.  Frankly, I think Mumford & Sons paved the way a bit for me personally.  Again, while Mumford is also NOT country it has country tones, a killer kick drum (ironically also part of the name of an Avett Brothers song), and a fun but not annoying banjo.

I'm not going to begin to review each of the tracks. Nope.  I will make a few observations.  First, generally, there are albums that have tracks that can stand on their own.  For example, Pearl Jam's Ten: Black isn't improved by Alive or Once, but each of the tracks can stand on their own.  A more up to date reference would be Jack Johnson's In Between Dreams.  All songs are great, but they don't want for one another. Then there are albums that should be enjoyed all at once, like The Street's A Grand Don't Come for Free.  The tracks build on one another, and in this case, actually tell a story, a pretty funny story too if you can decipher his rough English accent.  Another example is Interpol's Our Love to Admire, a favorite band of mine, but they have better albums (Turn on the Bright Lights is a must check).  The Avett Brothers fall squarely in the middle here.  I think the tracks and album is improved by listening to it all at once rather than selecting tracks and playing them randomly; however, ANY track on this album can stand on its own.  No question.

Avett Brothers remind me in alot of ways of Ben Folds, with our without his Five.  They also sound like a more obsure band called the Pat McGee Band (a more pop than alt-country college band).  Avett Brothers are certainly unique and different enough to be hard to classify (if that's what you are into).  Strangely, Ten Thousand Words, reminds me so much of Nirvana Unplugged...Jesus Doesn't want me for a Sunbeam (seriously, listen to them side by side).

Bringing this full circle, they do present a scary gateway into that genre that shall go unmentioned.  I don't think I will ever be a fan of country, but projects like the Avett Brothers and Mumford, and their progeny, make me ask myself how far will I let this go [don't answer Greg, it's a trap].  As long as I don't ever end up camping out to wait in line for Kenny Chesney tickets, I think I am safe.  So bring on the wife will be sooo happy.

"Join me next time" when I plan to discuss my 3 year old's favorite Vampire Weekend track: Horchata, or as she calls it "Horpchopta"

Some favorite lyrics and tracks on I and Love and You:

"I want to have pride, like my mother has, and not like the kind in the Bible that turns you bad." - Ten Thousand Words

"I haven't finished a thing since I started my life, I don't feel much like starting now" - Incomplete and Insecure

"Keep your clothes on, I've got all that I can take" - Landry Room

           The Avett Brothers: I and Love and You

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Seek-Up Game

I am talented, very very talented. Most of my off-profession talents; however, fall squarely into the category of useless, as there does not appear to be a flourishing job market for "Executive creative hashtag (#) user" or "Associate Facebook commenter" or "Chief radio tune identifier" (#textmeifthereisplease).  Relax.  I am still employed,....Mom.

Now, I see many of your hands up, so let me give you all an anticipatory answer to two of your questions:  No and Yes.  (1) No, this will not be the subject matter of my Blog each post (ppphew!, right) and (2) Yes, this is my first entry ever so you'd be wise to print this to PDF. (or print out and scan if you must) and save for eons on your hard drive as this Blog shall rival that Julia Childs lady (nope).....and please be gentle on the comments.

Back on point, this blog is about my family and its odd, quirky love, passion and sometimes misunderstanding for music, each other.....yeah, yeah yeah, blah, blah, blah.....I haven't yet figured out my reason for sharing any of this, but enjoy it while it lasts (hopefully) here goes:

Our favorite game (ok, my favorite game) to play on long trips, cross-town zips or whenever the movie "Rapunzel" or an episode of the "Backyardigans" isn't blasting on the kids DVD player, my wife and I play a game with the car radio.  We call it the "Seek-Up Game" (Yes, we are Dave Matthews fans, but that has nothing to do with the game).  And when we play, I win...all I do is win (#TimTebow).  Here's how we play.  Starting from the lowest FM channel we can find we seek up, or forward, stopping at each and every song.  The first player to name the song and artist within 10 seconds (and without looking at the car readout...cheater) wins that round; then seek again.  First to 21 wins.  It's very basic, often fun, and usually results in my wife saying "wait, you've actually heard this song before?" (hence the title of this post).

As the Champ of "Seek-Up" (yes, I am self-proclaimed) I get to pick out the movie for the weekend.  Then, as a matter of course, my 3 year old exercises her 3 year old Veto Power (a veto power that far surpases any Presidential Veto Power and is neither limited by scope or frequency of use), and the whole family gets to curl up on the couch and watch a "Direct to DVD Disney Classic" (for those of you experienced such a film, you are one of the fortunate ones).

So, if you dare to challenge me, the next time I ask if you want to go to the store to pick up some diapers or fun dip or any other random item, consider this an invite to game with the Champ.

Thanks for reading.  "Join me next time" when I plan to discuss why the Avett Brothers are a gate way drug (if you don't know who the Avett Brothers are, study up peeps).