The two hottest music genres right now could not be more different.
In one camp there is the growing legion of electronic-based artists, who make their music from behind a wall of synth modules, drum machines and computers.
And then there are the acoustic musicians, always there but suddenly popular behind the successes of groups like Mumford & Sons and The Avett Brothers, who grind it out night after night playing real instruments.
"As for electronica, I couldn't tell you why it's popular," says Alex Salcido, banjo player and co-lead vocalist for Oregon's The Harmed Brothers, a group that proudly falls into the latter category. "But what we've seen on the road is that the hardest-working, the most passionate bands today aren't even heard of. They're on the road forever. I think a lot of people are starting to notice that.
"There're a lot of people in this world who are so passionate about their art that they're willing to go out on and live on the road and play whenever and wherever possible. I'd like to think people are recognizing that and people are paying attention to the stories and what these people have to say."
People are certainly starting to pay attention to The Harmed Brothers, who perform Tuesday at Newby's. Formed three years ago in Cottage Grove, Ore., the four-piece released its second full-length album, Come Morning, in May to strong reviews.
The basic elements will be familiar to anyone steeped in Americana — driving acoustic rhythms pushed along by bassist Alec La Roche and drummer Ben Kilmer, and soaring melodies courtesy of Salcido and the group's other songwriter, guitarist Ray Vietti. It's a formula perhaps best expressed on Come Morning single "Beast of the North West."
But Salcido stresses The Harmed Brothers bring their own style to the proceedings.
"It's a double-edge sword because the Avett Brothers, Mumford & Sons, those names have the power to lead you to other bands like us, but then you have this expectation you have to live up to. 'Oh, you're not Mumford & Sons,' " he says. "It just so happens we're doing this at a time when acoustic music, folk music, Americana, whatever you call it, is getting real big. We'd rather not worry about that and just do us."
The Harmed Brothers date back to Vietti and Kilmer's childhood together in Missouri. By 2009, Vietti was living in Oregon playing in an early version of the group. One of the bands they regularly played shows with was Termite Dog, an acoustic duo that included Salcido, a transplanted Californian.
After a shakeup in The Harmed Brothers, Vietti and Salcido began playing together, eventually pulling in Kilmer from North Carolina and adding La Roche last year.
"There was just a very special bind between me and Ray," says Salcido. "After the first few times hearing each other's songs, we realized these were pretty important stories and feelings that should be shared, and we wanted to do that together. I think we're doing them pretty well so far."
The group released its debut, All The Lies You Want To Hear, in 2010, and has spent much of the two years since on the road crisscrossing the U.S. and Europe. They did take time out to record Come Morning, a record that, despite its directness, represents a more expansive approach for the band.
"The first record was just Ray and I in a living room facing each other playing our songs," says Salcido. "This one we wanted to make it a little bigger, a little broader but not overblow it.