Archive for the The Avett Brothers Category

2010 Americana Music Award Nominees: Song of the Year, and the Rest

Posted in Americana Music Awards 2010, Dave Rawlings Machine, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Ryan Bingham, The Avett Brothers on September 9, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

If you’ve been reading lately, then you know that the Americana Music Honors and Awards Show is taking place tonight at the Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville, TN. I’ve covered the nominees in a few of the major awards so far. This post is just to wrap up every other category and give you an overview of the rest of the awards.

The award show will be broadcast live on Sirius/XM Radio’s Outlaw Country Channel and webcast live by NPR Music and Folk Alley beginning at 6:30 Central Time.

We’ll start with Song of the Year.

The nominated songs are “Drunken Poet’s Dream” by Ray Wylie Hubbard, “Ruby” by The Dave Rawlings Machine, “I and Love and You” by The Avett Brothers, and “The Weary Kind” by Ryan Bingham. I’m not going to go into detail about each nominee here since I’ve mentioned each artist in other posts already, but I do have a few general comments to go along with my prediction.

First of all, this is Bingham’s category to lose… just like every other award he’s nominated for. No song in recent memory has made as much noise outside of the Americana realm as “The Weary Kind.” That’s why he’ll win Artist and New/Emerging Artist as well… Golden Globes and Oscars bring a different level of recognition that this genre has been searching for some time now.

“Ruby” is a pleasant enough song, but not my favorite from that album by a far shot. “I and Love and You” does a good job of showcasing the Avett’s expanded melancholy, but I still prefer the rowdy version of that band. The song that intrigues me the most in this set is “Drunken Poet’s Dream” by Ray Wylie Hubbard.

This is the same song that appeared on Hayes Carll’s 2008 CD Trouble in Mind… except that it isn’t. Carll and Hubbard both have co-write credits for the song on each album, but Hubbard’s version is drastically different from Carll’s original. Aside from changing the song from a somewhat sunny piece into a fuzzy electric dirge, Hubbard added verses, left out others, re-arranged a few others, and omitted the bridge. He even changed the lyrics to the chorus. In the end, almost the only thing the two songs share is a title. Still, I’m not sure which one I like better… both hold up well.

Ray Wylie Hubbard: Drunken Poet’s Dream (Buy Album)
Dave Rawlings Machine: Ruby (Buy Album)
Avett Brothers: I and Love and You (Buy Album)
Ryan Bingham: Weary Kind (Buy Album)

My Prediction: Ryan Bingham
My Vote (If I had one): Ryan Bingham
The other two major categories are Artist of the Year and Instrumentalist of the Year.

Once again… we’ve already covered most of the nominees for Artist of the Year. Ryan Bingham, Patty Griffin, and Ray Wylie Hubbard are nominees in other categories. Only Steve Earle and Levon Helm are singularly nominated. For his part, Helm was the winner of the first ever Grammy for Best Americana Album. Earle, meanwhile, won the Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album. Both artists also continue to tour and serve as ambassadors for the genre. Still… they can’t trump Bingham.
My Prediction: Bingham
My Vote (If I had one): Bingham
The Instrumentalist of the Year category is loaded with perennial nominees like Buddy Miller, Will Kimbrough, and Sam Bush along with this year’s most nominated artist Dave Rawlings. It’s hard to imagine a year without Buddy Miller winning an award, but he’s done more producing than playing lately. This may be the year he’s shut out.
I don’t really have a prediction or vote here. This is the one category that stumps me every year.

2010 Americana Music Awards Nominees: Duo/Group of the Year

Posted in Americana Music Awards 2010, Band of Heathens, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Dave Rawlings Machine, The Avett Brothers on August 30, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

It’s almost that time again. The annual Americana Music Honors & Awards are set to take place September 9th at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville as part of the 2010 Americana Music Association Conference. As I do every year, I plan on spending the next couple of weeks reviewing the nominees for each award and attempting to handicap the competition.

We’ll start with the nominees for Duo/Group of the Year.

I was largely unfamiliar with the Avett Brothers when I saw them perform for the first time at the 2004 AMA Conference. I was completely entranced by their energetic spirit and punk/folk aesthetic. I became a fan on the spot. Since then, The Avetts have continued to tour relentlessly while seemingly picking up fans at every stop along the way.

In fact, for their latest album, 2009’s I and Love and You, The Avetts graduated from indie label Ramseur Records to record for major label Columbia under producer Rick Rubin. With the move, the band also expanded its sound to include piano and more lush arrangements. Being part of the Columbia stable also allowed them to take their music to a much larger audience. By gaining exposure for themselves… they have brought exposure to Americana music as a whole.
Avett Brothers: January Wedding (Buy Album)

Like The Avett Brothers, our second nominee also has roots in acoustic music. Unlike The Avetts, however, The Carolina Chocolate Drops seem much more content to stay closer to the traditional side of things. The Chocolate Drops pride themselves on keeping alive the traditions of the African American string bands that were prevalent in the 19th century, but are mostly extinct today. Their standard repertoire of instruments includes fiddle, banjo, jug, kazoo, and a wide variety of percussive elements.

Their calling card is the fact that they do traditional very, very well. Go to one of their shows and you’ll see what I mean. The trio look and sound the part of the true revivalist act complete with an energy and aura from another era. It’s odd then that the song from their 2010 album Genuine Negro Jig that has brought them the most attention/controversy is a cover of Blu Cantrell’s 2001 R&B anthem “Hit ‘Em Up Style.” For every request I received for the song at WDVX (and there were many), I would also get an angry email asking why the station was now starting to play hip-hop music.
Carolina Chocolate Drops: Hit ‘Em Up Style (Buy Album)

This year marks the second AMA nomination for Austin’s Band of Heathens. They were tabbed last year in the Best New Artist category that was ultimately won by Justin Townes Earle. This year, they’ve graduated to the Duo/Group category on the strength of their stellar sophomore effort One Foot in the Ether. You may remember it as my #2 album of 2009. It also hit number one on the Americana Airplay Chart… making them the first independent band to earn that distinction with each of their first two albums.

The Heathens strength is their songwriting. They boast three top flight Texas song scribes in Colin Brooks, Ed Jurdi, and Gordy Quist, and each share songwriting and vocal duties equally. Even though the three started out as solo artists who just happened to play the same songwriter’s showcase, they have forged themselves into a fine band that seems to have a solid future.
Band of Heathens: What’s This World (Buy Album)
Bonus: The band has new free download available on their website.

The final nominee is a familiar face, even if The Dave Rawlings Machine has only really existed for a year or so. Rawlings is the long-time side man and musical partner of Gillian Welch and is one of the most respected musicians in all of Americana music. He was always been happy to stand in the shadows in the past, but stepped into the limelight with the 2009 release A Friend of a Friend… the first album to bear his name.

Of course, Rawlings isn’t alone in the Machine. Some of his friends who came along for the ride include Welch, Benmont Tench, and several members of The Old Crow Medicine Show. It’s really more of a super-group than anything else. Despite the star power he surrounds himself with, it’s Rawlings that shines through. His vocals and virtuoso guitar playing are front and center throughout, and he reminds us of his songwriting chops on the covers-that-really-aren’t-covers “To Be Young (Is to Be Sad, Is to Be High)” and “I Hear Them All.” Both songs are Rawlings co-writes even though they originally appeared on albums by Ryan Adams and The Old Crow Medicine Show respectively. The album was good enough to almost make people forget that Gillian Welch hasn’t released an album of her own since 2003.
It also bears mentioning that The Dave Rawlings Machine headlined last year’s biggest Americana concert event… The Big Surprise Tour.
Dave Rawlings Machine: Sweet Tooth (Buy Album)
Four great acts… four worthy champions. The Avetts and the Chocolate Drops both helped expand the Americana fanbase, The Heathens did things no indie artist has ever done, and The Machine was… well… a well-oiled machine.
My Vote (If I Had One): Dave Rawlings Machine
My Prediction: Dave Rawlings Machine

Top 10 Americana Albums of the Decade: Honorable Mention

Posted in Hayes Carll, Loretta Lynn, Patty Griffin, Ryan Adams, The Avett Brothers, Top 10 Americana Albums: 2000-2009 on December 5, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

We’ve almost made it all the way to the number one spot on the list of my favorite albums of the past decade. Before we get to that #1 spot, however, I’d like to quickly run through a few albums that just as easily could (should?) have been included on the list instead. Here are five “Honorable Mention” albums listed alphabetically by artist.

First up is Ryan Adams’ 2001 release Gold. It’s very likely that this album would be on the final list if not for the fact that it was mislabeled on my iTunes, and I skipped over it when I was making my preliminary list. By the time I discovered my mistake, the final order was set, and I couldn’t really justify removing any of the other albums to make room for this one.

Still, this is one damn fine album, and one of the first “Americana” albums I was ever given. Lost Highway sent roughly a dozen copies to our station, and our music director loved the album so much he made sure that all the student workers got a copy. I remember it taking me several listens to warm up to the album as a whole, but I was instantly grabbed by tracks like “Firecracker” and “When the Stars Go Blue.” I’m glad I stuck with it.

Ryan Adams: Firecracker (Buy Album)

Next is the Avett Brothers’ 2004 effort Mignonette. The Avett Brothers are another one of those artists I fell in love with at the 2004 Americana Music Association Conference. They played the conference opening party on Thursday night at The Mercy Lounge, and I made a special point to see them again later that week at The Station Inn as well. I had never seen anything quite like them before with their string band sound and punk rock ethos.

I was completely entranced by their live show and found much to love on this album as well. Where the show drew me in with pure energy, the album showed that the band could deftly create those quieter moments as well. This album was the perfect mixture of the bombastic (“Hard Worker,” “Nothing Short of Thankful”) and the sublime (“Swept Away,” “SSS”). This song has a decent dose of both flavors.

Avett Brothers: Please Pardon Yourself (Buy Album)

If I continued to rank things beyond #10, this one might actually be #11. The 2005 release Little Rock was actually the sophomore effort for Hayes, but this is the one that put the Houston born songwriter on the map. It’s full of the same sort of rough edged tunes that have become the calling card of this road worn artist. You can actually feel the road beneath Hayes’ wheels on tunes like “Wish I Hadn’t Stayed So Long,” “Sit in with the Band” and the title track.

Little Rock also holds the distinction of being the first independent release to make it to the number one spot on the Americana Album Airplay chart. Hayes is still one of only two artists (Band of Heathens) to accomplish that feat. We’ve played this album so much at WDVX that it will no longer load in our CD players.

Hayes Carll: Down the Road Tonight (Buy Album)

If I had made a list of favorite artists of the decade, there is no doubt that Patty Griffin would be at or near the top. Her body of work is incredibly strong, and I don’t think there is a finer vocalist working in the business today. What she doesn’t have, however, is that one album that grabs hold of me and keeps me enthralled from start to finish. Her albums in this decade are a little more serene overall than the two she put out in the 1990’s.

All of them except for her unreleased gem Silver Bell from 2000. This album brings the fire on songs like the punkish title track, the churning “Sorry & Sad,” and the rollicking “Boston.” Of course, the quieter moments are here as well in early versions of “Making Pies” and “Top of the World.” There’s also a great, country duet with Emmylou Harris on “Truth #2.” Patty’s label refused to release the album because it wasn’t radio friendly enough. Idiots.

Patty Griffin: Boston (You can’t buy this album, but Patty has tons of other great stuff out there)

The most surprising album of the decade may have been Loretta Lynn’s 2004 release Van Lear Rose. Loretta had been largely absent from the music world for most of the 1990’s and had all but disappeard from the public consciousness. Like many of her contemporaries, she had been rendered mostly irrelevant by the changing aesthetic of popular country radio. That all changed with this album when Loretta teamed with producer Jack White of The White Stripes to blend her classic country sound with his modern rock production.

There is also a certain geographical element that speaks to me on this album. I grew up in the same rural Eastern Kentucky county where Loretta was raised. I spent a good part of my childhood in Van Lear, KY… my babysitter lived there. The song I’m featuring here may be about the West Coast, but I’m always transported back home when I listen to this album.

Loretta Lynn: Portland, Oregon (Buy Album)

Americana Music Awards: Nominees Super Post

Posted in Alison Krauss, Americana Music Awards, Drive-By Truckers, Hayes Carll, James McMurtry, Jim Lauderdale, Kane Welch Kaplan, Levon Helm, Robert Plant, Steve Earle, The Avett Brothers on September 11, 2008 by AmericanaPulse

It’s been a while since I posted anything about the upcoming Americana Honors and Awards Show. Since it’s coming up next week, I thought I’d better get back on the ball. You can find my previous posts on the Awards here. A full list of this year’s nominees can be found here (scroll down).

Last month, I started this whole series on the awards nominees by listing the five songs nominated for Song of the Year. Four of the five nominated songs come from albums nominated for Album of the Year. Since I wrote fairly extensively about the artists in that post, I’m not going to write about them again. Instead, here is a list of the nominees with another track from each album.

The nominees are…

Raising Sand from Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
Just Us Kids from James McMurtry
Trouble in Mind from Hayes Carll
Dirt Farmer from Levon Helm

Robert Plant and Allison Krauss: Fortune Teller (Buy Album)
James McMurtry: Bayou Tortous (Buy Album)
Hayes Carll: Drunken Poet’s Dream (Buy Album)
Levon Helm: Feelin‘ Good (Buy Album)

Out of these four… my vote probably goes to Hayes Carll. If I were betting, however, I would place my money on Levon Helm. I think the fact that he’s making a return from throat cancer, coupled with the fact that Dirt Farmer is truly a killer album will be enough to carry him here. He’s probably the favorite for Artist of the Year as well.

Speaking of which… the nominees for Artist of the Year are…

Levon Helm
James McMurtry
Jim Lauderdale
Steve Earle

John Prine won this award a few years ago when he was making his return from cancer. Levon should take this in a walk. Competition comes from tireless performer and Americana Ambassador, Jim Lauderdale. Lauderdale released two albums during the nomination period (2007’s Bluegrass Diaries and 2008’s Honeysongs), is the long-time host of the Americana Honors and Awards Show, and recently took up hosting duties for the Tennessee Shines radio show. Earle and McMurtry will always get a few votes for their outspokenness and activism. I’ll be shocked, however if Helm doesn’t win this one.

We’ve heard from Helm and McMurtry… here’s a taste of what Earle and Lauderdale were up to over the past year.

Jim Lauderdale: Honey Suckle Honey Pie (Buy Album)
Steve Earle: Sparkle & Shine (Buy Album)

The final group I’ll look at here is Duo/Group of the Year. The nominees are…

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
The Drive-By Truckers
Kieran Kane, Kevin Welch, & Fats Kaplan
The Avett Brothers

Judging by the fact that Plant & Krauss were also nominated for Album and Song of the Year, I’d say this award is theirs to lose. The Truckers put out another stellar album this January called Brighter Than Creation’s Dark. My favorite Trucker, Jason Isbell, left the group before the recording of this album, but the Truckers still deliver with another epic effort. Kane Welch Kaplan continues the trio’s signature sound of bluesy acoustic folk. The Avett Brothers didn’t release anything new during the nomination period, but they continue to tour relentlessly with their high energy show, pushing the limits of their sound and bringing their music to new audiences. The Avetts won this award last year, the first year the award was presented.

The Drive-By Truckers: Two Daughters & a Beautiful Wife (Buy Album)
Kane, Welch, Kaplan: That’s What I’ve Got (Buy Album)
The Avett Brothers: Tear Down the House (Buy Album)

There you go… the nominees for this year’s Americana Honors and Awards Show. The show will take place September 18th at The Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. The ceremony will be broadcast live on XM Satellite Radio’s X-Country Channel.