Miller: I dug “Manners” for a brief spell in 2010, but with “Gossamer” it seemed like Passion Pit was trying too hard, you know, really looking to become that mass-appeal sort of band that sells out stadiums.
Baca: Agreed. And that’s a pitfall that often snags potentially great bands. Not sure if you’re a fan, but I’ve long lauded the Avett Brothers as one of my favorites. (Speaking of Gap commercials.) And their 2012 offering, “The Carpenter,” left much to be desired on my part. Again you’ve got the quiet folk of FJM. And you’ve got the Avetts’ familiarity around a hook. But this second Rick Rubin wash didn’t work for me. That single “Live and Die” was grating, I thought, and it felt like they were reaching so far for the arena stage that they ended up faltering with a sound that wasn’t as genuine as their past work.
Miller: I saw Avett Brothers at Monolith in 2008 (I think) and it was a genuine performance like you’re saying. While I haven’t listened to their catalogue as much as you, the loss of that honesty is pretty noticeable. That’s how I’ve always felt about Mumford & Sons, though. Absolutely nothing fresh or unique, just an attempt to sell, sell, sell.
Baca: I can see that. But I felt that Mumford debut was so fun and hooky and irresistible that I was willing to look past their unabashed pop desires. With 2012’s “Babel,” I was hoping to see progression, something new. Instead what we got sounded like “Sigh No More” B-sides. At least the Avetts were raised in North Carolina, ha.
Miller: Exactly, I kind of feel like “Babel” is to folk music as “Twilight” is to Dracula.
Baca: Ha. Yes. Marcus Mumford as Robert Pattinson.
Miller: Gross. Seriously. What about Lana Del Rey, though? Probably 2012’s most polarizing figure. She never recovered from that “SNL” snafu, personally.