By Kamila Widalski

Staff Writer |

The Avett Brothers: “The Carpenter”

        The Avett Brothers’ new album, “The Carpenter”, came out on September 11, 2012. It is the first representation of the Avett Brothers’ new style. Their new songs begin to state outright deep thoughts such as life and death, instead of hinting at them through soft, but sometimes rowdy, melodies.

This spiraled out of an unfortunate occurrence – the Avett Brothers’ bassist, Bob Crawford, has had to deal with his two-year-old daughter suffering from brain cancer. Their new songs tend to speak more about going out and enjoying life before your time on Earth is over, while still using their backward waltz, uplifting melodies but incorporating a more natural and raw sound than they used to have.

Additionally, they now involve more imagery in their songs, such as in their opener, “The Once and Future Carpenter”, the lyrics muse, “And when the black cloak drags upon the ground/ I’ll be ready to surrender, and remember/ Well we’re all in this together/ If I live the life I’m given, I won’t be scared to die.”

These beautiful lyrics work because instead of just stating the message, they paint a picture to the listener to make them feel the importance of the song. Other songs, such as “Through My Prayers” and “Winter In My Heart”, speak more about how someone has died and now the living party is upset and has to learn how to deal with the pain of death, no matter how hard it is.

        The Avett Brothers will be having a concert to introduce their new music on September 28, at Charter One Pavilion at Northerly Island in Chicago.

Of Monsters and Men: “My Head is an Animal”

        This new Icelandic band has become exceptionally popular in a short amount of time, thanks to their deep and unique sound filled with tingling lyrics and an elegantly rugged style. Their new album which came out on April 3, 2012, “My Head is an Animal”, containing songs such as “Mountain Sound” and “Dirty Paws”, has turned campfire songs into anthems of the mind, as they expertly combine folk style with epic and contagious choruses.

These songs’ dark, magical quality about beasts and forests are veils that cover strong topics of the human world and humans’ harmful actions. In “Dirty Paws”, a war between bees and birds is sung to stand for the war between humans and nature in this day and age. The same goes for “Six Weeks”, which stands for running back to someone you love while getting through the obstacles set in front of you by people who only care about themselves, and also becoming one with the universe. All in all, this band unashamedly opens up a world of dark tales set to ringing instruments and original music.

Ingrid Michaelson: “Human Again”

        Ingrid Michaelson has stepped into a realm of deep hurt with a sense of hope, bringing out more organic and forward emotions than her hidden messages from her old songs, for example, “Keep Breathing”. Her most recent album, “Human Again”, came out a few months ago on January 24, 2012.  Her new songs portray emotions of betrayal and the fear of being thought of something that you’re not. Her most popular song, “Blood Brothers”, screams with the lost feeling of human unity and tries to preach the importance of finally recognizing the giant family residing on this Earth. Each one of her songs is wondrously sung by her sophisticated voice that penetrates the veil of ignorance as it defies conventionality, almost like the softer sides of “Arcade Fire” or “Cold War Kids”. This new album seems to have really gone above and beyond instrumental-wise, as more melodious tunes sound throughout the whole of the record, lifting it towards the sky instead of keeping it grounded as in past albums, like “Everybody”. Yet, Michaelson’s charm and her vision of courage in sounding vulnerable when she needs to is fortunately not lost, but enhanced to put more emphasis on her lyrics.