The Bros. Guard on the Bros. Avett: _Carpenter_ Review

Caleb: “I and hate and it.”  That was the 5-word review given by my friend Rob Case of the last Avetts album, after they supposedly sold out for the first time.  Now they’re in a GAP commercial.  Just wanted to let you know, I liked them before they were popular.  But I’m proud to say I ain’t no ironic bandwagon hipster: I still like them now.  And I don’t think they sold out.  Look, guys’ gotta eat.  By the way, if you don’t know the Avetts and are reading this for some reason, they are what rock and roll would sound like if it was invented right after the War of Northern Aggression.

Luke: I refuse to waste anyone’s time regarding this sell-out nonsense.  In their defense, they weren’t even wearing polos or rugby shirts in that GAP commercial. And yea, guys’ gotta eat.  Which is why I’m glad they left their wood to wrot and took to the road as young and hungry poets they are.  And for those of you who don’t know, the War of Northern Aggression is a more educated title for the Civil War (and I’m not referring to the numerous high shcool and college football rivalries that bear the same name…come on folks).

C: This album deals a lot with mortality, but it’s far from morbid.  Their bassist, Bob, has had to deal with an emotional toll in the past year—his daughter has a brain tumor.  But the Avett’s haven’t gone sour.  They’ve grown, they’re fathers and whatnot.  But they’re still the same brothers.  They’re still here for salvation, for family, and to leave behind the world a better way.

L: Mortality, yes. Life. Death. Spring. Winter. Change and lack of change.  Bob and his have gone through a lot.  But brothers also lost Doc.  There is a lot of growth here, having to deal with things like death, depression, children and the like, but it’s also very young at times.  It gets grungy a couple times, and perhaps, more than any other album of theirs, I laughed.  Yes, they’re still the same brothers. Just livin’ their life, not afraid to die.

ONCE AND FUTURE CARPENTER
“If I live the life I’m living, I won’t be scared to die”C: From the first moment you know we’re still in Avett country, even if we left the farm.  It’s a song about not having regrets and accepting what you can’t control.  You’re not from this or that place, and you don’t have the best luck, but you do with what you don’t have.  Live without fear.  And if you leave yer old yools behind, you can return long as yer alive.  No better way to start the album.L: Ever been talking to a group of guys and you just can’t seem to match their stories or relate to their conversation? At first, that’s how I felt: “Oh yea, well I used to be a Carpenter…” but I think the same kind of idea is being addressed in a more mature and aware way.  “We’re all in this together”, all connected and, in a way, all running on some kind of combination of luck and experience.  Think every single one of us would like to have Purpose, but she can be hard to track down.  Maybe we’re supposed gamble with what we got, hope things come up our way, and no matter what, make something out of what’s in our “pockets” and be ready to walk away to meet the Judge/grim reaper

LIVE AND DIE
“Left like a pharaoh, sing like a sparrow anyway
Even if there is no end in sight”

C: Continuing from the first track, there’s nothing in life to do but to live it, to love and to relish all that’s good.  Death is the common denominator to all men.  So let’s get together.  Also, the banjo on this track is outstanding.

L: GAP. Banjo. Bass. Old Testament.  Also connection: the great equalizer of death.  But like that we must prove we’re alive, cause if you’re not truly living,…you’ve heard the chliche.  Also, Change.  Keep an eye on it too, it changes.  Did I mention the banjo?

WINTER IN MY HEART
“They says seasons turn in time
theirs are changing, why won’t mine?”

C: Sometimes death is another word for stagnation, and that is the sleeping summer of winter.  The first two tracks fight death head-on, but sometimes even optimism dies in our heart.  Haunting.  You can feel the clock ticking, the earth spinning, all to the slow beat of a chilly heart.  Over 31 million Americans suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder.

L: That’s a SAD stat Caleb.  Is this a Willie Nelson cover? I always love these tracks where the Brothers become vulnerable through exposing their voices.  I know nothing really about the mechanics.  What I mean is, two long-haired, bearded mountain men aim for the high notes, fully aware they’ll come off weak to Simon Cowell.  He’s just mean.  Remember that change?  It’s not happening.  It can be tough to move on from anything, and sometimes the season we’re in when death occurs, whether it be physically or figuratively, it can be hard to to change with the seasons.  This heart is cold, dead, silent, lacking color and without any explanation.  That is sad.

PRETTY GIRL FROM MICHIGAN
“I made mistakes and one was telling you I’d be there
when telling time had come
I should’ve said I didn’t care”

C: And I thought they were done with “pretty girl” songs now that they married.  So far it’s my least favorite.  Relationships die too, is the message they’re sneaking in.  Guess they still can’t let go of the past.

L: Funny.  Youthful.  Reminds me these fathers with wives are still just Brothers with former lovers.  Ever talked to yourself like this before?  Maybe on long drive or short walk?  Me too.  And yea, I’ve made these same mistakes.  Disagree with you brother, although it may not be a most favorite, neither is it a least.  Can’t wait to see this one Live either.

I NEVER KNEW YOU
“We change a lot
And no one here can stop
That train before
It gets to where it’s going
At all”

C: In case you didn’t get it, relationships can die too.  I think this one will have to grow on me, though.

L: Just getting it of their chest and out there.  Funny though and upbeat.  Similar to the Michigan girl, youthful.  Distance allows clarity.  This is important to remember in more weightier matters as well.  This will grow on your bro, promise.

FEBRUARY SEVEN
“There’s no fortune at the end of a road that has no end
There’s no returning to the spoils once you’ve spoiled the thought of them”

C: Even in the dead of winter, hope and love can come alive.  Ok side 2 now clear the house: The death is over take the sadness and the bitter—get out.

L: Poetry. Also made me think of Wes Anderson. “Rested and ready to begin”.  Those are tough things to come by: rest and readiness.  This is one of their classic ‘reflectors’.  Have a feeling this one can be sang with a smile though.  Traded what I know for what I feel….and here comes light.

THROUGH MY PRAYERS
“Hard to believe I won’t see you again
We were just fighting when winter began”

C: Now we can fight the despair.  Prayer is a window of hope to speak to those who’ve gone.  It’s a song of regret that feels like a song about closure where it seems closure is too late.  It’s trying to be a hymn, but it knows it can’t.  It’s too bitter for a lullaby, too longing to be anything else.

L: “Every night after and every day since I find myself crying when the memory hits Sometimes it knocks me down, sometimes I can just put it away”
This one’s hard to stomach.  Really.  Truth is, if we all can’t relate to this, we will.  Which may be worse than if we already have. Selfish prayer, but a prayer nonetheless.  Maybe time to mature and grow and understand yourself is needed to know what to say too.  But still, no one understands.  Not much to dig through here: If you have love in your heart, let it show while you can.

DOWN WITH THE SHINE
“Down with the shine, the perfect shine
That poisons the well, and ruins the mind”

C: Yeah when singing doesn’t work drown your sadness in alkeehawl.  Whiskey Whiskey Whiskey.  Water Water Water.  Sing.

L: Ohhh! Moonshine.  I get it.  Banjo. People say there are mean drunks, violent drunks, silly drunks, and even honest drunks.  Sounds like a couple of honest ones to me: All that comes, comes here to pass.  Here’s that element of change again, see it, well do ya?  You better, cause it’s happening right now to you.  Seen this live, can’t wait to see it again.

A FATHER’S FIRST SPRING
“Of you, baby blue, God blessed your life
I do not live lest I live in your light”

C: The album began heading into winter, but this turn tells us we may end with a new beginning.  Something creative and powerful has to arise from this lull, because every good artist is a phoenix.  A birth is the opposite of death.  A new father has a new reason to be a live, a new purpose.  I just ended my first summer as a father, so I’ll understand this even more in 6 months.

L: Thought of Brother first.  Then thought of Jack Johnson. Then thought of Noah.  Confession: I claim to not get homesick.  That’s a croc’.  But a whole lot easier to fool myself and others than to spend my days missing.  I miss my brother whom I’ve known my whole life.  I missed Noah who’s only seen me three times and with brand new eyes.  This is the one that broke me.  I’m not a dad.  But I am a godfather and youth minister, which gives me my fair share of opportunities to feel this parental instinct.  Here’s what broke me: The realest thing I ever felt was the blood on the floor and the love in your yell.  Homesick.  Live in that Light brother.

GERALDINE
“It’s me this time
I’m trading fun for right
Will I regret this later?”

C: Sexuality and moral grayness.  Maybe they mean it to be cryptic, but it resonate with the times.  Cultures and generations clash, and women get caught up in it, for better or worse.

L: Funny. I wonder if Progress’s dress is commonly warn in a court room?  Also like how she “messes things up”.  Old-people often make accusations of such things.  Geraldine & Abeline, I’m still thinking you over.

PAUL NEWMAN AND THE DEMONS
“It’s been so long now, I’ve been with them
Don’t know where they stop and I begin”

C: Sometimes you’re so sad you succomb to madness.  Or you have just to let the demons out.  And let’s face it: Paul Newman is a bad mother.  We have to exorcise the darkness before we celebrate the light.  And it ain’t pretty.  And we might not want to leave.  So pull us out.  “Shmee, don’t try and stop me, Shmee.  Shmee try and stop me.”  That kind of thing.

L: Let me guess, not your favorite eh?  Already heard that from a handful of Avetteers.  Guess what, I like it.  Here are my reasons: 1. Avetts will now be featured on Guitar Hero XXXVII; 2: Quinton Terratino will have them on the soundtrack of his next film; 3. Reminds me of the song that played during credits of old N64 RPG games; 4. Paul Newman is a bad mother & 5. They do what they want.  So what if nobody slapped the banjo on this one?  This may have been the biggest risk they’ve ever taken on a single track.  I enjoy it, so should you.

LIFE
“Faith and promise, keep me honest
When starvation falls upon us
“We’re not of that world at all
We will never be”

C: Thank you, brothers, for ending on a sweet note.  I think I love every word of this song.

L: Thank you, brothers, and thank you, Brother, for ending this on a sweet note.  I too, love every word.


Listen:
As with the last album, we could say we wished there was less electric, less drums, and more hootenanny style tracks.  But they haven’t surrendered enough for us to abandon them.  These are good tracks.

This album is so strong and unique.  There’s so much evolution, growth, connection and love shown in this album.  It’s like watching these boys fill out and grow into themselves.  Keep growing brothers, and Iwe’ll grow with you.

2 responses to “The Bros. Guard on the Bros. Avett: _Carpenter_ Review

  1. Great review….I too am a fan of the new album, and becoming a bigger one with every listen. Life, February Seven, Winter in my Heart, Once and Future Carpenter, and Through My Prayers are about as emotional and thoughtful as you can get with some Avett music. A lot of this I could take or leave (Paul Newman and Geraldine specifically), but overall I like it better than I and Love and You. Emotionalism still reigns supreme. Good job to the both of you.

  2. Pingback: The Avett Brothers’ Magpie and the Dandelion: Album Review | CALEB COY

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