By Lauren Wise
By New Times
By Amanda Savage
By Jason P. Woodbury
By Troy Farah
By New Times
By Derek Askey
At one point in their career, the North Carolina trio The Avett Brothers (brothers Scott and Seth Avett, along with Bob Crawford), were better suited to perform at an old fashioned hootenanny than at a classy place like Mesa Arts Center. But though the band started out playing old-timey bluegrass, the band's sound has matured.
The change in direction may have worried some longtime fans, but any concerns should have been put to rest when the group released its major label debut, I and Love and You.
"We feel very much as if we're starting a new era. It feels very much like I and Love and You was sort of either the beginning of a new era or sort of the end of an old one. And it feels very exciting," says Seth Avett.
The Avett Brothers have always been considered by many to be one of the biggest grassroots success stories of the past decade. The group spent much of the early part of its career self-releasing albums as it gradually built a fan base with raucous live performances. Eventually, the group would sign with indie label Rasseur Records and, later, move on to Columbia Records and catch the attention of Columbia co-president and über-producer Rick Rubin.
"As far as we know, Rick was passed Emotionalism, our previous record to I and Love and You," Avett says. "And he did some YouTube research and got excited and invited us to his home, not to pitch us anything, but just to talk. And that's what we did. We sat on his back porch in Malibu and talked about music."
The result of the collaboration was 2009's I and Love and You. The album shows the band's development as musicians and is filled with lush ballads, pianos, and strings.
"We've always been a pretty raw band, and on this record, we put much more time into every part of the process. We put more time in the artwork, we put more time in the development. It was the first record we made demos for before we made the record. We wanted it to be a noticeable step up."
The effort paid off considerably. I and Love and You made its way onto a lot of critics' best-of lists and was named album of the year by Paste Magazine. But The Avett Brothers aren't content to rest on their laurels.
"I do feel it's our best work to date. It's hard not to feel that way when you're a part of it," says Avett. "You always are more partial to your most recent work, which oddly enough for me is, at this point, the demos for the next one."
Currently in the midst of a world tour, the band is hard at work on the next record.
"We've probably already got about 17 or 18 songs demo'd out for the next record. We never stop writing. [When] it gets time to start tracking again and to start laying these new songs down, who knows where we'll be at, you know?" he says.