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The new phonebooks are here!

September 18, 2009

I was recently faced with a conundrum. As a huge fan of The Avett Brothers, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the September 29th release of their Rick Rubin-produced major label debut, I and Love and You. I’ve voraciously consumed all the information I can get my hands on about the album, and have absolutely fallen in love with the three tracks that were released in July as an advance EP. But. The place where I go to find music to download recently received an early copy of the cd for free download. Hurm.

In general, I don’t have a guilty conscience about downloading music. For starters, in the past three years I’ve lost an iPod, a case of 90+ cds, and a laptop to thieves, and much of the downloading I’ve done is merely replacement of music which I once rightfully, legally purchased. Other downloads are for music which I need for a particular purpose (like a wedding reception) or just to scratch a momentary itch. The current artists that I care about merit me making a trip to Cactus Records to buy an honest-to-gawd physical cd, which I then dutifully rip to my hard drive and transfer to my iPod. I believe that musicians, particularly those who are trying to be heard above the drowning din of the current popular culture marketplace, are worth supporting, and I try as much as budget allows to provide this kind of support.

Besides, there is nothing like the first listen-through of a highly-anticipated album. The moment when a piece of music grabs you, and sweeps you up in the euphoria (or whatever emotion) of its own particular mood is so uniquely thrilling. You can probably remember particular songs that did it for you that way, where you didn’t even have to finish listening to the album before you knew what your favorite track was going to be. I can rattle off the names of the songs that grabbed me that way without much deliberation. Blister by Jimmy Eat World. Chicago by Sufjan Stevens. I’m The Man Who Loves You by Wilco. Fake Empire by The National (the oh-so-rare first track homerun). The Grey Album’s version of 99 Problems. Black Magic by Jarvis Cocker. Okay, now I’m just padding the word count…

Often these are the moments when you become a fan for life. While I’ve been a fan of the Avetts for a while, hearing the three tracks off of the upcoming album was like an epiphany. These guys should be HUGE. The aggression, harmonies, and unbridled enthusiasm of all their previous work have melted together along with a newfound pop sensibility to create some of the catchiest, most sincere music I’ve ever heard. And they all put it together in one song. And then then next song. And then the third, final song. I immediately put the little EP on repeat. It was better than it should be, a quantum leap forward as a band, and hopefully as a presence in the music world.

And that was just three songs. So now, the golden apple is dangling in front of my face. Free download. Nine more songs I haven’t heard, or of which I’ve only heard snippets. Craaaaaaaaaaap.

I’ve got to hold fast. I don’t want to ruin two Tuesdays from now. Besides, I’d rather have my first listen on my superior car stereo instead of these tinny computer speakers.

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