From last August’s Glossary/Lucero show at the 506.
It seems appropriate to review these two together — the major label debuts of bands that started small, toured relentlessly, stuck to their sound and their goals, and built enormous, rabid, vocal, fiercely devoted fan bases who’d walk through fire for them. Different fan bases, of course, but Lucero and the Avett Brothers both came to their success the same way: through ass-busting hard work, years and years of it, and refusal to give up or give in to anybody.
The Avett Brothers — I And Love And You. This is not, ultimately, the album I was expecting them to make — there are points where I’m convinced that one Avett or the other was like, “I miss making punk records, can we make a punk record?” and his brother punched him in the kidneys and then things like the breakdown in “The Perfect Space” happened — but in the end, it’s still an astonishing album. It’s an album full of secrets, it kept turning sonic corners I didn’t see much less predict, and it was basically like driving down a mountain after dark in the rain: terrifying and unpredictable and exhilarating. It’s a dark and complex disc, both sonically and lyrically, and I think it’s heartstoppingly beautiful. “Kick Drum Heart” remains my favorite track on it, but “Incomplete and Insecure” is, predictably, my second favorite.
Lucero — 1372 Overton Park. What this album is, besides flat-out fantastic, is the absolute blueprint for How To Make A Major Label Debut Without Being Accused By Your Fans Of Selling Out: you take your signature sound, rough dirty drunk Memphis rock, and you take your major label money and you buy yourself a vintage Memphis horn section, and you fuse the two together into a perfect storm of rockers and weepers and dancers. Some day I’m going to get a speeding ticket while I’m driving down 540 listening to “Sixes and Sevens”, and I’m going to mail it to Ben Nichols with a note, and he’ll probably read it, laugh, and pay the ticket for me. And that’s the best description of this album I can give you. (Plus there’s a love song to a comic book character on this album. I mean, come on, that’s fucking awesome.)
[the Avett Brothers — “Kick Drum Heart”] 7MB, .mp3. my, my heart like a kick drum
[Lucero — “Sixes and Sevens”] 8MB, .mp3. i can’t say i mind your dancing/it’s quite impressive in those shoes/i don’t need no complications/but those are complicated moves
My end-of-the-year best-of list is starting to take shape, even though it’s only September; for me, there are, as of now, three albums that stand out head and shoulders and then another head above everything else that’s come out so far this year, with another two that are close on their heels. Then there’s everything else, a lot of it very very good, but there are a couple of bands who’ve really gone above and beyond this year. What a great fucking year for music, you guys.
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