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Anthony Green – Avalon

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    Being the pillar of an important rock band must be exhausting work – so much so that it renders the siren song of going soft downright deafening. Nick Torres and Tyler Odom went from Northstar to the alt-country of Cassino, Dustin Kensrue offered up his own solo slice of down-home Americana, Roddy Woomble veered off the Idlewild course to dabble in Scottish folk, and on and on. Maybe it is just the “in” thing to do – like how some actors will take up stints on Broadway to bolster their middling resumes, or maybe it is just the underlying need for variety after recording and touring on the same genre of music day after day. Regardless of what drives this magnetism, it has corralled yet another subscriber in Anthony Green, the scene’s favorite man of many hats. After having his hands in countless bands and records, Green has decided to finally to wander off on his own (sort of, at least – the guys in Good Old War are certainly a noteworthy backing band). With Avalon, Anthony pulls a near 180 to most work he has done in the past – so is it any good or should he be running back to his Circa brethren apologizing for ever straying?

    At its core, Avalon is a bit of a contradiction. There is not a whole lot of material on the record that begs for widespread commercial success, but the record is still immediately likable and catchy in the simplest of ways. Green’s melodies have always been top notch, and have served to elevate even the harder, more progressive music of his other projects to a higher plane, and the results of this talent are even more evident in this softer, more subdued setting. The album is just begging to be sung along to, and the material herein will surely fuel deafening fan-gang vocals at upcoming shows. And that is perhaps the most alluring part of Avalon – for as many people idolize Anthony Green, this record makes him seem more real, more in touch – something certain to resonate with both new and old fans.

    From the onset of “She Loves Me So” it is apparent that Avalon was indeed what it has been billed to be – a record Green had to make, if for no one else than himself. The opener’s simple acoustic strums tucked neatly under Anthony’s laid-back, hypnotic crooning is about as far away as you can get from the blistering sizzle of Circa Survive’s best. The splash of detail added by the guys in Good Old War gussy up the track a bit, but it is not the kind of tune that would get much traction were it not for Green’s already massive fanbase. From there though, we get a much more familiar sound in “Dear Child (I’ve Been Dying to Reach You).” Produced by John Feldmann in a separate recording session entirely, the track is arguably the album’s best (and most recognizable of course), as Green’s vocals are at their best when allowed to run full bore. Hearing that silky-smooth transition between high-pitched wail and raspy howl is a specialty that fans can’t get enough of, and the results are astounding on this rendition. Regardless of the undeniable appeal of this song, however, it should not be used as a barometer for the rest of Avalon, as the rest of the work is decidedly different, more stripped down, and serves to make the superslick “Dear Child” stick out like a sore thumb as being rather out of place on an otherwise earthy, organic record.

    Despite being a rather standard acoustic/folk album at heart, there is a fair amount of variety on the rest of Avalon. There is the airy, dreamy swoon of “Drugdealer,” the bluesy saunter of “Stonehearted Man,” the sunny, upbeat pop of “Babygirl,” the hushed beauty of “Miracle Sun,” and even a bit of alt-country infusion on “Slowing Down (Long Time Coming).” Hell, the guy even gives us an electronica song with “Springtime Out the Van Window” that originally appeared as a Moshstradamus tune – and it sounds like a certain someone listens to a lot of Four Tet in his spare time.

    Now, while Avalon has a lot going for it, it is by no means perfect. “Califone” and “The First Day of Work at the Microscope Store” sound a bit redundant in the context of the other songs, and could be filed under “filler.” And vocally, Green can sound a bit out of his element when singing in his lower register, but the results aren’t ever dripping in discord.

    From a lyrics perspective, Avalon is the most personal material Green has written. With the exception of a few more abstract numbers, his messages are a lot less clouded than those on Circa Survive offerings. It is just one of the things that helps the album sit with all sorts of listeners, not just those looking for an artsy or challenging listening experience.

    Overall, hearing how long Anthony Green has been at work on the tracks for Avalon, the album’s release is likely equally as rewarding for him as it is for his legions of fans. Perhaps equal parts therapy and musical expression, Green’s first proper solo offering opens the door into one of the scene’s most revered frontmen and the results are quite pleasing. For my money, given the choice, either of Circa Survive’s offerings would find their way into my CD changer before Avalon, but this is certainly a fine complement, and would not be that far behind. If you love, like, respect, or even hate what Anthony has been a part of in the past, this is indeed worth a shot – being so far removed from his other work, this has the potential to find fans in new places altogether.

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