Well are you? You should be.
I love alt-country and alt-bluegrass music. Without the alt I can only stand a few songs, but if it's good, I can listen to the alt-c and alt-b all day. For my tastes, what makes the alts good is a healthy twinge of modernity mixed with sweet strings and storytelling lyrics. Accents are fine, but twang is only acceptable in small doses.
These alt-musicians are few so far as I can tell (I'd love to be proven wrong), but luckily I've recently found North Carolina natives The Avett Brothers. That's a long A. They're two brothers who play guitar and banjo and two other fellows one who plays the string base, the other the cello. The Avett's have been around for a while, but only recently got on a major record label. One reviewer described them as punk bluegrass which is an accurate description. I've only just scratched the surface of their music, but I'm hooked. I'm told that their albums have grown a little calmer with each release although this is not readily apparent from the recordings I've heard of their live performances at SXSW (a big indie music festival) and the Newport Folk Festival where the lead sometimes screams the lyrics (I don't particularly like that but no band is perfect). The music is beautiful, the songs are honest and sweet, and the lead singer's voice has a great edge to it.
Now on to the listening:
Laundry Room is my favorite so far. I have listened to it over and over again just as the lyrics deserve. Oh it's so good! I've heard a few live versions. The first is from SXSW (linked before), the second at their NPR Tiny Desk Concert (click here to watch) and third, a version that has a slightly softer ending which you can get here (along with two other songs).
Down with the Shine is another great song which they played live but has yet to be released on an album. Great and gritty, the words are both vague and pointed enough to allow you to fill in your own story.
I and Love and You is the free release from the EP of the same name. Not so much of the strings, but good lyrics. Don't listen if you've just had a hard breakup.
Let me know what you think of 'em.