[Published simultaneously with New Raleigh.]
In two months, Concord, N.C. quartet The Avett Brothers will release I and Love and You, their sixth studio album and first for American Recordings, the Sony imprint run by production mogul Rick Rubin. A major label, a major project, a major timeline: After more than a year in the making, I and Love and You is now in its final stages of completion, having gone through recording in studios on two coasts, mixes by multiple sets of ears and—finally—a series of mastering attempts that try to render the record ready for what’s likely to be an enormous audience.
On Monday afternoon, a not-quite-finished copy of the album arrived at the offices of the Independent Weekly in Durham. Later that night, Independent Weekly Music Editor Grayson Currin and New Raleigh Downtown Editor Jed Gant gathered in Raleigh to listen to the work-in-progress for the first time and offer their instant impressions via their personal Twitter accounts. We’ve gathered those moment-by-moment tweets into roughly edited form, presenting them as a generally obnoxious, sometimes humorous and fairly informative guide to what you’ll expect when the band drops its major-label introduction August 11.
Just to be clear, both listeners love the record and, 48 hours later, consider it to be the most evolved and perhaps best work by the band yet. Also of note: The title track, “Kick Drum Heart” and “It Goes On” might make this band awfully famous.
And the tracklist for the record in question:
1. I and Love and You
2. January Wedding
3. Head Full of Doubt, Road Full of Promise
4. And it Spread
5. The Perfect Space
6. Ten Thousand Words
7. Kick Drum Heart
8. Laundry Room
9. Ill with Want
10. Tin Man
11. Slight Figure of Speech
12. It Goes On and On
13. Incomplete and Insecure
And the tweets...
Jed Gant: Album title: I and Love and You (Not Final)...but without the Not Final.
Jed Gant: Piano begins it.
Grayson Currin: The title track is the opener, "I and Love and You," sounding like the live version so far. Nice strings pealing from beneath verse two.
Jed Gant: Jumping tracks and never returning to Brooklyn... Piano gains drums.
Jed Gant: Next layer: violin and Seth (post Scott's intro).
Jed Gant: First song: Highway already mentioned.
Jed Gant: Orchestra and Brooklyn collide.
Jed Gant: @currincy never seen this song live....oddly
Jed Gant: "3 words: I and love and you." Gorgeous beginning to the album.
Grayson Currin: Like what the drums do during chorus two, picking up to build toward the turnaround, like Joe Jackson etc. Interesting harmonies ~3:30.
Jed Gant: Thickness, indeed.
Jed Gant: Song two: banjo enters.
Grayson Currin: Was that a Farfisa headed into the last chorus? Really beautiful version of that song. Banjo and Guitar and Seth open "January Wedding."
Jed Gant: "January Wedding" reminds me that The Avetts would make a Great kids album (Disclaimer: I have a pregnant wife.)
Jed Gant: First sound of Bob's bass comes in nicely between breaks.
Grayson Currin: Whoa, end rhyme using Audrey Hepburn. Banjo has a nice tone hear, ringing and bright. Finger slides on strings of both. Bob snapping deep.
Grayson Currin: A song about the renewal a good lover can bring? Classic Avett mid-tempo acoustic tune in the making. Nothing exceptional, but good for the n00bs.
Jed Gant: I keep hearing Fletwood Mac. Am I wrong or silly or?
Grayson Currin: @formotion I can fet with you on the Fleetwood comparison, particularly in the way it's all layered classically, all things pouring into one.
Grayson Currin: Surprising drum/piano/string clang on No. 3, "Darkness." "Your life doesn't change by whoever's elected," sings Scott. Holy shit, a Hammond!
Jed Gant: "Darkness" starts with an exclamation mark in the form of Scott & Orchestrated soundscape that jumps above trees. Like Crouching Tiger film.
Grayson Currin: "Avetts Go prog." Kidding, but interesting turnaround. Scott and Seth's interplay with piano and drums is fertile ground. Organrockbuild!!!
Jed Gant: Piano, keys, and organ introduce a sound not heard from these guys. "I hear a Darkness."
Jed Gant: Is this the organ that Byrne set up in that building in Brooklyn? I and love and Byrne. "And it Spread." Drums smack face. Spreading in a minor chord place.
Grayson Currin: You might have heard this one live, "And It Spread." Interesting harmony choices, Scott shooting through back of refrain. Three-piece chug.
Jed Gant: @currincy nope...not this one either...Man, I'm out of it. That's what I get for hatin on DMB.
Jed Gant: And it Spread....groovy tone..."Colorshow" with more energy and step and Seth.
Grayson Currin: If you believe your Avetts should be a string band, you'll hate the way they handle the stringiest number here. MARCHING DRUMS, DUDEZ!!
Jed Gant: @currincy Grammys, Avetts, Marching band. Radiohead, Outkast: "Eat your heart out."
Grayson Currin: This song's shifted a lot, thanks to the drums. Nice little picking flurry at the end. Now "Friends." Saw this debuted in sold-out PDX.
Jed Gant: "Friends." A common Avett theme....
Jed Gant: @currincy I like that you've heard all of these and I've heard none. I have history; you have current knowledge
Grayson Currin: Last time I heard this song, I saw a grown man cry. Sort of tingling hearing it again. Maybe that's the diabetes speaking, though. Oops.
Jed Gant: I hear Rubin loud and clear now.
Grayson Currin: This goofy mid-section is so totally awesome: Crowded House + Madness + ZZ Top + whatthefuckever, Scott nailing drums and shouting. Oh boy.
Jed Gant: Friends has those Oh What a Nightmare tempo and style changes, with a little Rebel Yell.
Jed Gant: Joe Kwon now has a prime place in the band. How about the No Doubt horn players, though?
Grayson Currin: Scott and Seth, trading lines about friends and family and aging. Totally kind of touching, but balanced nicely with the raucous midsection.
Jed Gant: Is Bob gonna sing on this album or is he cut off?
Grayson Currin: Acoustics wrapping around each other on "Ten Thousand Words." Doubled vocals-->slight canon tease. Pick it, boy. Organ beneath!!
Jed Gant: Finally a little Seth Guitar lick in "10,000 words." Organ layered behind.
Jed Gant: @currincy Scott playing Organ?
Jed Gant: Fleetwood Mac again.
Jed Gant: Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and I and Love and You.
Grayson Currin: This sort of sounds like "Going to California," no? Organ peeling off acoustic Guitars in the high and low register. Love the slipstreams.
Jed Gant: @currincy "Cali" indeed...once again the Oh What a Nigtmare sound, too.
Jed Gant: Keep hearing lots of Weight of Lies leftovers. One my favs.
Grayson Currin: Scott's kind of jive-talking five minutes into "10,000," a song that goes absolutely nowhere, but in a way that is totally preparation for...
Jed Gant: "Kick Drum Heart"...They Might be Giants, anyone????? Popopppopoppoopopppoppoopppopppplpppopppppopppppppp smile.
Grayson Currin: "Kick-Drum Heart." People will chastise Rick Rubin for "forcing" a pop song. He keeps it ragged, though (nb: harmonies), and it works...
Jed Gant: Kids album...see TMBG. My hearts like a Toy Piano.
Jed Gant: Maybe they could borrow No Doubt's horns section, actually.
Jed Gant: "Heart"....prime song for remixing.
Grayson Currin: The slow down is a little less epic than it is live, but that makes sense, I suppose. Finally, at the end, we get Seth screaming.
Jed Gant: "Kick drum" at the end could be cut.
Grayson Currin: Oh fuck, "Laundry Room." FACEBOOKSTATUSMESSAGECORNUCOPIACOMEGETSOMEYOUKNOWYOUWANTIT. I love everything this song is about. Accordion!
Jed Gant: @currincy points at Laundry room. Rubin's influence very apparent.
Grayson Currin: Post-chorus for this is great. Bob's entry is well-timed on this. He's been a bit quiet throughout, but always present, it seems. STATUS!
Jed Gant: @currincy thinking the same about Bobby Crawford....Giddy-up.
Jed Gant: Burning lyrics and breaking tired old routines....Avetts doing this indeed. H.G. Wells?
Grayson Currin: I just updated my Facebook status 17 times in three minutes thanks to "Laundry Room." Hey, is that joke a "tired old routine" yet? Ouch.
Grayson Currin: Holy Foggy Mountain Breakdown are these boys from N.C. playing that bluegrass mess with that violin and stuff? Unexpected conclusion.
Jed Gant: Maybe they should score a western movie...set in a laundry room?
Grayson Currin: Now to "Sick With Want." Piano and acoustic guitar waltz that builds. Big choral harmonies here. female on back-up vox. "Jess L.M.?"
Jed Gant: "Sick with Want." Definitely an Avett layered phrase, lyric, philosophy.
Jed Gant: I knew the would get to the traditional drum beat at some point...."Sick with Want" is it.
Jed Gant: There's the chorus of women I've been waiting for....note to Avetts, export this to other songs.
Jed Gant: @currincy I hear Use Your Illusion I and II? Maybe they could swim with Dolphins.
Grayson Currin: This songs certainly pretty, but—on first listen and three minutes in—I'm kind of ready to head on into what's next. Nice bro+bro end...
Jed Gant: @currincy waltz Good call...reminds me of my favorite song by Elliott Smith.
Jed Gant: "Tin Man:" lots of old Avett sound with new Rubin rainbows.
Grayson Currin: "Tin Man," bros! Pretty straightforward with the live version, but there's a difference in the strings. Joe and/or Bob bowing discord?
Jed Gant: Unidentified 'bowing’ sound verified as possibly Joe. I think it's a saw...
Grayson Currin: Interesting choices that this song takes sonically, considering the spacing around the drums and how the strings move to/fro the song...
Jed Gant: Seth has his way with this one
Jed Gant: Still unidentified sound....rewinding.
Jed Gant: Trombone is latest theory.
Grayson Currin: Is that a horn on "Tin Man"? First horn appearance? Good ol' bros intro on "Slight Figure of Speech." Rolling Stone: wrong. Avetts rap!
Grayson Currin: "A jet plane and a big idea!" Facebook statusez, y'all. Generous pop harmonies beneath this one, plus mildly distorto bass from Bob Crawford.
Jed Gant: "Slight Figure of Speech:" ’50s sound I've been missing on this album.
Grayson Currin: Pretty sure they skip over this reversed-and-skipped vocal part in the middle of "Slight Figure" live? Does that mean it's a slight figure?
Jed Gant: @currincy Avetts Rap indeed... Punk version of "Talk in Indolence."
Jed Gant: Ahhhhhhhhh ahhhhhhh. Ahhhhhhh.
Jed Gant: Another odd ending. Chord, chord, chord.
Grayson Currin: Here's the hit, they think: "It Goes On." "I give it a week until someone makes a Ben Folds comparison." —S. Griffith. Self-fulfillment!
Jed Gant: It Goes On. @currincy says it's the hit. Does have that catchy rhythm.
Jed Gant: Tingly piano and layering of voices. Poppiopopppoppppppp. Man, Seth's voice is ridiculously amazing now.
Jed Gant: @currincy yes! Avetts Fold Five.
Grayson Currin: Hey, this song sounds just like that other guy from Chapel Hill with the piano and the song about knocking his ol' lady up, amirite? OK!
Grayson Currin: I love this tune and it's switches in time. It reminds me of being in high school in a convertible in the summer, which I never did...
Jed Gant: Gimme Back my black T-shirt.
Jed Gant: Last song: "Incomplete and Insecure." Slow and waltz again.
Grayson Currin: Last tune...OK here we Go: "Incomplete and Insecure." They've played this at soundchecks.
Grayson Currin: "I can tell people that this success is a direct reflection of me, but..." I'd like to think this is subtitled "For Dolphus, For Now..."
Jed Gant: Building up. Will it be a grande finale? Piano seems to say so.
Grayson Currin: This is an interesting end to the record, Given its mid-to-up tempo, but I have a feeling the strings will take us out. Let's see...
Jed Gant: I see them scoring a Broadway musical next.
Grayson Currin: Oh, text painting at the end: "I haven't finished a thing in my life/ don't feel like starting now." Song ends sans beat/chord resolution.
Jed Gant: Slow ending. No grande finale. Not Fourth of July. Just the end.
Jed Gant: @currincy would have liked more of a longer strings walk out.
Grayson Currin: Thought: I enjoyed this album very much and I will recommend it to a friend. If this were a fast-food chain, I would supersize. Dig???
Grayson Currin: I'm interested to hear Team Avetts' thoughts on the production of Rick Rubin. Though this is the Avetts, there are some ambitious ideas.
Jed Gant: Very operatic approach to an album, especially considering they are from and live on the back roads of North Carolina.
Grayson Currin: And the diehards could really hate them because they're, well, different. But it's, on first listen, smartly played/made/considered!!!
Grayson Currin: I'm glad they didn't try to recap the "old charms of The Avetts" as a potential introduction to a bigger audience. This is not reverse.
Jed Gant: Another great step forward for the Avetts. Each album is a stepping stone on a staircase to fame. On that note, I look forward to buying it.
Jed Gant: Definitely the most mature album thus far. Look forward to next listen. This concludes the Avett Tweet fest.