When Scott and Seth Avett began spending their downtime from rock band Nemo playing traditional bluegrass and busking in the streets of Greenville, N.C., they never anticipated that their hobby would become their primary musical focus. However, when Nemo dissolved in 2001, the two found themselves increasingly drawn to the honest, stripped-down sound of bluegrass. And after their first release, 2002's Country Was, listeners found themselves increasingly drawn toward The Avett Brothers.
The latest offering from this semi-familial trio, Four Thieves Gone: The Robbinsville Sessions, is not your typical, flat-picking bluegrass. Here, The Avett Brothers have created their own Appalachian take on many popular formulas, calling on the acoustic folk-punk of the Violent Femmes, the harmonies of traditional bluegrass and the raw intensity carried over from their hard-rockin' past with Nemo.
The group's known for its rowdy live performances, and the album's opening track, "Talk on Indolence," channels that energy into a frantic spoken-word verse before breaking into a chorus which introduces the group's soulful three-part harmonies. The vocals are a standout characteristic on this album and range from the single sad-sack country singer to hard, screaming backups, and even a bluegrass nod to "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" at the end of "A Lover Like You."
With the release of Four Thieves Gone and its current position at No. 32 on the CMJ Top 200, you'd be wise to pick up this record and start telling everyone you've always listened to bluegrass.