Every Stitch and Seam

A day spent with the latest from some North Carolina boys on repeat

Every Stitch and Seam
Avett Brothers 2024

I had a long list of records I was all set to listen to today, but then I made the mistake of picking the latest Avett Brothers album — the descriptively titled The Avett Brothers, released last Friday — as the one I wanted to listen to first.

This is not a knock on the Avetts. It's just that on first listen, a lot of their music tends to hit me the same way I might react to a piece of food whose flavor is generally pleasant but maybe also I don't like it, and the only way to find out for sure is to keep taking bites until I figure out for sure what I'm responding to and why. All of which is to say that after listening to The Avett Brothers one time, the sum total of my reaction was essentially "that was fine," but you can't build a post around that, so I listened to it again, and the next thing I knew, I'd had the damn thing on repeat all day and I think I might love it.

Well, maybe love is a strong word. But as I've said repeatedly in this space among others, context counts for an awful lot where music is concerned, and after listening to The Avett Brothers for hours, I have come to realize that my personal moment lends itself strongly to simply constructed, unabashedly earnest songs about choosing to see the light and honoring the important people, places, and things in our lives.

There are some pretty good reasons for this being that kind of moment for me, and I think I'll probably get into them in a separate post before too terribly long, but for now just let me say that if you think you might be in the sort of emotional space that lends itself to appreciating plain-spoken, sweetly sung poetry about the bedrock importance of love, then I can confidently state that The Avett Brothers is your jam.

This might go double for you if you're already an Avetts fan. The Brothers have spent the last decade or so fiddling with their formula, and for folks who've loved their music from the start, some of that fiddling has been at least a little unwelcome. I'm not a member of the hardcore faithful, and I won't pretend to speak for them, but for awhile, it seemed like the Avetts' arc might end up mirroring those of countless acts whose rootsy early efforts eventually gave way to slicker production and less emotionally impactful songwriting. The Avett Brothers takes a step back from all that, stripping away the varnish applied to more recent records and focusing on the band's essential strengths — specifically, stringin' and singin' through songs that may not actually be deeply confessional, but almost always feel like they are. And once you take a minute to really lean in and listen, it becomes clear that the Avetts have lost none of their ability to periodically peel off a lyrical line that will take your breath away with its simple clarity and emotional power.

Watching: Been loving the current seasons of Loot and Hacks, which have some superficial similarities — they both revolve around the exploits of very wealthy women who can be rather difficult, albeit for different reasons and in different ways — but aren't otherwise cut from the same cloth. Like a number of other Apple shows, Loot has an essential Good Place-style sweetness about it; there's drama under all the comedy, but really, this is a show that handles its audience with kid gloves, and you never doubt for a second that everything's going to be all right. Hacks is a little thornier, although the abusive dynamic between its main characters has been sanded down a good deal for Season 3 — and that isn't a bad thing, since it's been replaced by genuine, honest emotional growth. Definitely two shows I'd still eagerly watch even if they had traditional 20-odd episode seasons instead of the piddling eight-to-ten-episode chunks we get from streaming services.

Reading: Do you check page counts before you start a book? I usually do, but I didn't before diving into The Complete Short Stories of Mark Twain, which might have been a mistake. I swear I'm going to finish it eventually, but I've been burrowing my way into this massive tome since April and I'm still only about a quarter of the way through. On the bright side, Twain is pretty marvelous company.

Elsewhere: Here's where I remind you that the Record Player is a pretty damn fun podcast, and Matt and I are still producing episodes on a roughly weekly basis. We just completed an accidental trilogy of interviews with guests named Ben or Benjamin: Ben Arthur visited us to commemorate the 20th anniversary of his Edible Darling album, Benjamin Wagner stopped by to talk about R.E.M.'s Reckoning and talk about his wonderful new Friends & Neighbors documentary, and Feldons frontman Benjamin Miner joined us to discuss his band's new album as well as his abiding (and perplexing, IMO) love for Frank Zappa's Uncle Meat LP. You can find the show wherever you get your favorite podcasts, or just visit the Record Player website.

I'm also still writing a weekly column about General Hospital for Diagnosis Daytime, which I assume holds no interest for most of you but I'm going to mention it here anyway because I have a lot of interests and I don't feel bad about that. Check it out if you dare! Either way, I'll meet you back here tomorrow, I think? The 16-year-old is performing in a concert in the evening that might keep me from my regularly scheduled duties. Fingers crossed that it won't.