The Avett Brothers are coming off the best album of their career, Emotionalism in 2007, to having their highest commercial success yet with the release of their new EP, The Second Gleam. The EP debuted on the Billboard top 200 album chart at a respectable 82. Emotionalism was in my top 20 albums in 2007; of course they don’t need my endorsement now, recently signing a deal with a Sony affiliate. If you have not heard The Avett Brothers unique meld of folk and bluegrass, even if you don’t find those styles particularly appealing, they deserve a shot.
Stephen Malkmus, who is most known for his days as the front man for the critically acclaimed Pavement, does not get enough credit for his solo work. Stephen Malkmus – S/T is one of my favorite albums of all time, with his gentle mix of brash lyrics and the seemingly classic 90’s guitar of yore.
“Shepherds herd in real time
Sheep are barley-grazing on a field of green
Vines ripen to find
Troy will prevail
Trojan curfews prevail”
Stephen really captured me on this album, unlike anything he did with Pavement; it’s more refined, more polished, and more emotional.
Ryan Adams has seen his amount of success, as well as some failures, and that’s what makes this topically arrogant musician so endearing. Fact is, his style changes with almost every album, with the hearty riff-laden Rock-N-Roll, to almost single-handedly commandeering the “alternative-country” genre with his proper solo debut, Heartbreaker. He really caught his stride in 2004, with the release of Love is Hell; including one of THE best cover songs of all time, Wonderwall by Oasis, greatly surpassing the original (set down your nostalgia a bit and really listen). The fact that he is in his early 30’s and crunching out 4 albums and 2 EP’s in the last three years really speaks volumes for Adams’ talent. Do yourself a favor, unleash this beast of a musician into your repertoire; start with Heartbreaker, Love Is Hell, and Cold Roses.
[Listen Up! is a weekly feature.]