Thursday, June 16, 2005
THE AVETT BROTHERS
Live, Volume 2 | Ramseur Records
Recently, my brother, who lives in North Carolina, called late at night to tell me his life had changed. Though there was considerable slurring on the other end of the line, I was able to determine that he had not undergone a religious conversion. Instead, he had just seen a performance by a North Carolina acoustic trio called The Avett Brothers.
Though The Avett Brothers’ fiery live shows have converted scores of my friends in the Southeast to their distinct brand of strumming and stomping, their new live album—Live, Volume 2—will probably not change anyone’s life. While their immense abilities to fire up a crowd are evident on upbeat tracks like “I Killed Sally’s Lover” and “The Traveling Song”—which are full of the Avetts’ hooting and hollering along with the crowd’s foot stomping—Live, Volume 2 gets bogged down in too many mid-tempo numbers like “Pretty Girl from Annapolis” and “Walking for You.”
As an introduction to this incredible acoustic group, start by picking up 2004’s superb Mignonette, which ricochets frantically from beautiful ballads to almost out-of-control speeding train numbers. Live, Volume 2 is a fine live document, but it is just not the type of record that would compel you to call a sibling on the other side of the country in the wee hours of the morning. (ST)
Don’t Believe the Truth | Epic Records
Allegedly the byproduct of some 66 written tracks, this is easily their best in maybe 10 years or so, maybe because Noel Gallagher doesn’t have to shoulder the entire writing load himself (bassist Andy Bell and rhythm guitarist Gem Archer collaborated on more than one track). Using oddball tempos to shift their monolithic Beatle stomp and staying more or less downbeat, Oasis has endured the birth and death of Brit-pop from the last decade and prevailed.
But pop they are, which explains the single “Lyla” as a drone plus chorus propelled by insistent drum slamming by none other than Ringo Starr’s son Zak Starkey. Sure, this addition has brought more fuel to the “Beatle-clone” argument, but that really is no longer a germane line of reasoning. After all this time, they really are standing on their own. (JA)
Itstrumental | Female Fun Records
Itstrumental is purportedly Prince Paul’s first true go at creating an instrumental album, but it goes without saying this ain’t just your average compilation of beats. Any idea of the Prince is probably too conceptual to be confined to just samples and loops, so it’s no surprise that mouths would have to start flapping sooner or later. And given Paul’s company of the quirkiest characters in the business, that’s lucky for us—where else would you get a hardcore dancehall ode to Boston Crème Donuts (Mr. Dead & Newkirk), a sleazy lesson in approaching women (Steinski) and a narrative of the life of The Popmaster (from the mastermind’s own mouth)? It’s no wonder this thing had to be “reduced, drugged, prescribed, and contained” by Prince Paul, as he writes on the cover.
As far as the music goes (this is an instrumental album, right?), it’s a wonderful revue of the mind of one of hip-hop’s greatest producers—not to mention a nice, single-volume catalog of Paul’s prolific hip-hop history. From early-era De La Soul and Stetsasonic style jams (“It’s a Stick Up”) to the straight-up modern-day bangers fashioned by J-Live and Da Gravediggaz (“Gangsta’s My Style,” “Yes, I Do Love Them Ho’s!”), there’s something from every era of his career. (BS)