The Avett Brothers- The Carpenter– 2012 Universal Records
Today marks the autumnal equinox, which means it’s time to break out the flannel and folk rock. The Avett Brothers have come out with a new record just in time for fall.
As was their last record, I And Love And You, The Carpenter was produced by Rick Rubin. Rubin produces a wide array of acts, and a lot of them are really big name artists. The man has worked with everyone from Run-DMC to Slayer to Lucinda Williams. Although most of his records sound really polished, his style allows for the artist’s voice to really shine through. Which is great for The Avett Brothers, a band whose charm really comes from their honest songwriting and rootsy style.
“Live And Die” was released before the album came out as a single, and gave a great snapshot in what to expect from the album. It’s catchy, and the lyrics bring to mind the passing of time and changing of seasons (“live and die we’re the same”). The Avett Brothers really make bluegrass accessible to indie rock and pop fans in most of their records. They take the elements of the vocal harmonies, string instruments, and very light but effective percussion and mix them with elements of pop music for a well-balanced result.
The Avett Brothers have a series of songs titled “Pretty Girl From (Insert Location)”, which are all different, but excellent in their own way. “Pretty Girl From Michigan” brings in some electric guitar and a subtle doo-wop/soul beat that breaks up the album from the prevalent bluegrass influences. The short but sweet “Geraldine” is similarly upbeat with its piano-driven melody and more pronounced drums.
The contrast between slow and upbeat songs is well done on this album, and never seems abrupt, thanks to well-done sequencing. It’s a record that can be listened to as individual tracks or as an album in its entirety and is well-received either way.
Wolver’s Pumpkin Ale- Wolaver’s Organic Brewing– Middlebury, VT
There are so many different kinds of pumpkin ales it’s almost headache-inducing. As with any kind of beer, some are better than others. Wolaver’s Pumpkin Ale is among the best. Some pumpkin beers are great because of their experimental nature; they taste unlike anything you would expect and bring in flavors that you would not think of. But sometimes, you just need a simple beer that’s not made with any crazy ingredients. Wolver’s does this with just about all of their beers. They keep it simple, but consistent. Their Pumpkin Ale is brewed with locally grown pumpkins, which is fitting with their mission statement of using only organically grown ingredients. It has some subtle spice flavors, but they don’t overpower the beer and give it an easy-drinking quality. Wolaver’s Pumpkin Ale is unfiltered, so it’s quite opaque in a pint glass. It’s more golden in color, which is nice to see since many pumpkin beers tend to skew more of an orange that can sometimes seem unnatural. Topped off with a soft, creamy head, this beer is as beautiful as it tastes.
These pairings will skew seasonal whenever possible. I feel that this beer, much like this record, doesn’t do anything crazy with flavors or special effects, and is just simple and good. I also like the idea of an organic/locally grown and produced beer paired with an Americana/folk record. Although the Avett Brothers are definitely getting big and evolving from where they started (and being able to have Rick Rubin produce two of their records), they remain true to their folk and bluegrass roots at the core of things. The same can be said for Wolaver’s beers in general. The company is definitely growing, and while they certainly have the means to experiment and go off in different directions, they keep it simple and continue to make great beers with organic ingredients.