New Avett Brothers song takes aim at a subject in the national conversation


Official music video by The Avett Brothers performing 'Bang Bang.' (The Avett Brothers)

On Friday, the Avett Brothers released a new song, "Bang Bang," another track from their forthcoming album, Closer Than Together. In the release notes for the album, the Avett Brothers wrote they "will probably never make a sociopolitical record. But if we did, it might sound something like this." The new song "Bang Bang" stands as evidence of that.

In "Bang Bang," the Avett Brothers draw a parallel between "bang bang shoot-'em-up movies" and actual gun violence that has become such a regular part of today's headlines. In a nod to the cinematic thread running through the song, "Bang Bang" is driven by an almost ragtime piano line reminiscent of early silent film.

Seth Avett provides lead vocals on "Bang Bang"; in the song, Seth sings about twice being held at gunpoint, and he sings about the tranquility of the countryside being disrupted by neighbors "pretending to be Rambo." It is also worth noting that Seth is an alumnus of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, which last April was the site of a campus shooting that left two dead and four wounded.

"Conceal and carry your fear," the Avetts sing during the song's bridge. "Don't need no weapons here / I've had all I can stand / Of the bloodthirsty leading man."

Significantly, the song ends on an unresolved note.

The music video for "Bang Bang," directed by Morgan Neville, reflects the song's somber tone. In addition to seeing Seth, we also see Scott Avett, bassist Bob Crawford and cellist Joe Kwon. Each of them looks at the camera wearily, seeming to reflect the mood of a nation weary of news about shootings.

Whereas many artists in the Americana and Country genres have been tight-lipped about the issue of guns in American culture, a larger number of musicians are sharing their thoughts on the issue. Margo Price has made direct calls for gun reform and has encouraged donations to the Everytown movement for gun safety. Jason Isbell has tweeted, "If you're on here arguing the definition of 'assault weapon' today you are part of the problem. You know what an assault weapon is, and you know you don't need one." Little Big Town have participated in March for Our Lives.

Last month, Kacey Musgraves tweeted, "Let me be clear — I'm from Texas. I grew up around hunting and guns. There's a time and place for that and even self protection in ways … but this is different. The system is majorly flawed." Musgraves has also made spoken appeals in her shows, encouraging, for example, audience members at Lollapalooza to get active and "do something."

In July 2018, the Avett Brothers postponed a sold-out concert in Troutdale, Ore., just east of Portland, after a man entered the venue with a gun, flouting the posted no-firearms rule.

Country singer Eric Church said, in an August 2016 interview in Rolling Stone, "Right's right and wrong's wrong. I don't understand why we have to fear a group [like the NRA]. It's asinine. Why can't we come together and solve one part of this? Start with the bump stocks and the gun shows. Shut a couple of these down. I do think that will matter a little bit. I think it will save some lives."

And Mandolin Orange's 2015 album, Such Jubilee, includes the track "Blue Ruin," which that band's Andrew Marlin wrote in response to the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut, which left 26 people dead, including 20 children between six and seven years old, and six adult staff members.

The Avett Brothers' Closer Than Together releases October 4 on Republic Records.

External Link

The Avett Brothers - official site

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3 Photos

  • Jade with Seth and Scott Avett at Bonnaroo
    The Current's Jade with Seth (seated) and Scott Avett of the Avett Brothers. (David Safar | MPR)
  • North Carolina Music Hall of Fame
    The Avett Brothers were inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2016. (Luke Taylor | MPR)
  • North Carolina Music Hall of Fame
    Detail of the Avett Brothers display at the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame. (Luke Taylor | MPR)