New music from Avett Brothers

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By Craig Brinkerhoff
Copy Editor

Americana revivalists The Avett Brothers are back with a new album, Magpie and the Dandelion, released on Tuesday, October 15th.  Despite advanced criticisms on the expected over-production of the album, I can safely say it goes hand in hand with many of their best releases.

The album opens up with “Open Ended Life,” a country-twanged number that is one of the few times the band successfully utilizes a drum kit.  On their last album, The Carpenter, they attempted to find this sound, but did not quite achieve it until now.

The next few tracks are quintessential Avett Brothers: a sort of push and pull between the two brothers’ guitar and banjo held down by bass and cello, albeit with a more produced sound.  You will not find the layers of organ or backing vocals that are so prevalent here on any of their older albums.

Towards the middle, the songs slow down and give rise to the meat of the album.  Every song here has the one guitar line that the Avett Brothers use in most songs.  They tweak and manipulate it just enough to be different, but it still connects numerous tracks across albums, which is a unique touch.  This especially prevalent on “Apart From Me,” and this track stands out as one of the strongest on the album.

When “Vanity” came on, I figured it was just another track, and then the song took off.  Not only was it widely out of place, but it seemed like it would sit better on an album for vampire-rock, if that sub-genre actually existed.

To all of the naysayers that the Brothers are selling out and becoming too produced, take a look at the demos at the end of the album.  The most produced tracks on the album are all redone with no add-ons and no fills; it is the true, folksy Americana that built the Brother’s fan base originally.  I especially like the demo of the poppy single “Another is Waiting.”  They provide both renditions for all types of listeners.

For an album recorded during the same sessions as the previously mentioned The Carpenter, there is not only a striking difference between both albums’ sounds, but the Avett Brothers seem to have been much more successful when they recorded these tracks.

3.5/5

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