Song of the Week: “Ain’t No Man” by Avett Brothers
Part folk anthem, part gospel spiritual, “Ain’t No Man,” the latest single from the Avett Brothers, brims with good-natured charm underlined by a bouncing bassline. As Bob Dylan famously sang, you “Gotta Serve Somebody,” but the Brothers take that conceit a step further still, suggesting that there’s some wellspring of contentment allowing for perfect confidence in who you are. But it’s hardly soppy religious schmaltz, because it fails to impose a certain dogma upon people, instead allowing them to come to conclusions on their own terms. There’s a universal message of love and complete freedom to be who you were created to be. The beauty of the song is its profound joy, while simultaneously bringing up the questions that mankind will grapple with until the end of time. The music becomes a spiritual experience balanced with a sense of humor, surely destined to be a rousing crowd pleaser.
— Tynan Yanaga, Senior Staff Writer
Song of the Week: “I Want You” by Marian Hill
Marian Hill comes back with a refreshed sound that still features heavy bass beats and Samantha Gongol’s breathy voice, but leaves behind electronic overcomplexity. The duo stays true to their nature in certain respects, maintaining their simple rhythms and minimalist vibe, but “I Want You” leaves plenty of room for Gongol to flaunt her seductive tones. In contrast to their seven-track album “Sway” (2015), which focused on computerized vocal manipulation, “I Want You” breaks down for a quiet, piano-led bridge that shows off a more emotional side of Marian Hill.
— Peter McInnis, Senior Staff Writer
Song of the Week: “I Need A Forest Fire” by James Blake
Electronic soul singer James Blake’s latest is a tour de force of romantic (and spiritual?) renewal, beautifully using the poetic imagery of a forest fire to depict the necessary devastation of starting over. Given its natural imagery, it’s only appropriate that he enlisted the help of Justin Vernon, aka Bon Iver, the master of sad songs featuring woods and forests, thus appealing to hipsters and pagans alike. With their crooning intertwined voices carrying the song to ecstatic heights, Blake’s last whisper of “stop before I build a wall around me” might just be solid advice for listeners who wish to remain in control of their senses.
— Dieter Joubert, Senior Staff Writer