So it’s been a long time since I’ve written a music blog. Most of my writing these days is taken up with our yearlong Project 3:45. But there have been quite a few great albums released here lately, with a few more on the horizon this year. Here is a smattering of what I’ve been listening to lately:
- The Carpenter by The Avett Brothers. Time was, the Avett Brothers were my little secret, a raucous bluegrass indie band with Beatles-esque harmonies. Now, they’re on Kimmel and selling out huge arenas. Their sound has really evolved over the years, as evidenced by the Rick Rubin-produced Carpenter LP, a contemplative, even plaintive rumination on life’s darkness. The songwriting is some of the bands’ best to date, but the hootenany-jams of previous albums are all but absent, replaced with a radio-ready seriousness. To that end, the album’s best songs are its ballads: A Father’s First Spring, Through My Prayers, the title track, and Winter In My Heart, a hauntingly beautiful ode to love grown cold. Personally, I wish there was a little more banjo here; other than Live and Die, the Avetts signature instrument gets very little play on Carpenter. But still, this entry will stand the test of time as the sound of a band in transition, a band moving toward something greater. Promises to be a great ride.
- Not to be outdone, Mumford & Sons will release their new album, Babel, next week. Roots rock geeks, rejoice! The first single, I Will Wait, is the jolt of high octane banjo and harmony I was hoping to find with the Avett album. But all indications are that the Mumford boys are aiming to stick closely to the recipe that won them such acclaim on their debut LP, Sigh No More. If Babel contains a song even half as good as Timshel, it’ll be worth the price. “I will wait…” indeed. Next week can’t get here quickly enough.
- I’ve been a Dwight Yoakam fan forever. As in, his Just Looking For a Hit greatest hits compilation was the first cassette tape I ever owned. I’ve been streaming his new album, 3 Pears, over at Spotify for the past few days and it’s awesome. If you like Yoakam’s signature sound, you’ll love this new record. It’s really a shame that Nashville continues to ignore this one of a kind artist. 3 Pears is Yoakam’s first album in 7 years and the layoff hasn’t harmed him one bit. Best cut: It’s Never Alright.
I’ll have much more to say about the year in music in my year end review posts in December. Until then, I’ll probably look to make a few more posts about what I’m listening to.