Artist to Watch 2009: Avett Brothers

North Carolina duo are Rick Rubin's favorite new band

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WHO: When their hard-rock band failed to take off, Seth and Scott Avett – the grandsons of a Methodist preacher – started getting together with some buddies for regular bluegrass-picking and beer-drinking sessions. The pair discovered a newfound affinity for, as Seth describes it, "American roots music – and especially bluegrass and classic country." Soon, they ditched their electrics for good. "It just felt so natural to play an acoustic guitar and a banjo on the front porch," says Seth.

SOUND: After a decade of grassroots touring, the band is prepping its major-label debut (and fifth album overall), I and Love and You, set to come out in September. The duo scored a big supporter in Rick Rubin, who signed them to Columbia and produced the album. "Meeting them and seeing their sincerity made me a believer," Rubin says. Recorded in Malibu and North Carolina, the album hitches earnest romanticism to acoustic grooves, banjo-picking and twangy harmonies. The brothers (they take turns on lead vocals) sing brightly melodic tunes about marrying sweethearts ("January Wedding") and the cold-sweat anxiety of young love ("Kick Drum Heart").

COUNTRY BOYS: Despite their success, the brothers have no plans to give up the natural beauty of Concord, North Carolina (population 71,000), where both still live. "We don't want to be where all the action is," says Seth. "We want to just be where we're from."

SPIN THIS: "I and Love and You" turns a road trip to Brooklyn into a gorgeous piano ballad.

This story is from the August 20th, 2009 issue of Rolling Stone.

From The Archives Issue 1085: August 20, 2009