Tag Archives: Bon Iver

Album Review (EP): Blood Bank – Bon Iver

In the indie world of today, it is all too easy to rapidly win the hearts and minds of the NPR faithful and then lose them just as quickly. Considering that For Emma, Forever Ago was actually recorded during a cabin sabbatical in 2007, doubts that Vernon —now with Mike Noyce and Sean Carey — might prove unable to expand upon his heartfelt, folk masterpiece were entirely justified. His latest EP under the band name Bon Iver, Blood Bank — though unfairly burdened with far more pressure than the four rewarding tracks contained are meant to bear – is a gorgeous, lush effort which mines Vernon’s rich past while still developing the sound and the meaning of Emma even further.

Judging by his music, Vernon cares little about appeasing critics or fans hungrily awaiting miracles from the Wisconsin man with the body of a lumberjack and the soul of a transcendentalist poet. The songs arise naturally and openly from Vernon. “Blood Bank” begins with a gentle, building phrase on strings which quickly gives way to Vernon’s falsetto cooing and distorted, quickly strummed chords. Most notable about the song are the changes in tempo as Vernon goes from triumphant to philosophical in his story of fresh love. Stanzas about that initial rush of flirtation, “Well I met you at the blood ban/We were looking at the bags/Wondering if any of the colors/Matched any of the names we knew on the tags” play like the opening scenes of an indie movie, quirky but charming. To deliver the chorus, Vernon halts his arrangements and delivers the chorus: “And I said I know it well.” The line is simple but doused in enough emotion and yearning that it works exactly as well as the refrains in Emma.

The most experimental songs on the album are closing tracks “Babys” and “Woods.” The former is notable for being driven by a constantly repeating melodic phrase on piano rather than Vernon’s trusted steel string guitar. The lyrics, however, are vintage — spare and filled with ambiguity: “Summer comes to multiply/But I, I’m the carnival of peace.” It is a deliberate allusion to and rejection of the season largely responsible for shaping Vernon, winter. This peace is short lived, ended by the dark statement “But my woman and I, my woman and I know what we’re for.”

Though Vernon had flirted with autotune in Emma during “The Wolves (Act I and II),” he takes the device to heretofore unseen lengths. “Woods” consists layer upon layer of Vernon’s vocals, each at a different pitch and distorted to a different degree until there is a ascendant, harmonizing chorus with digitally inflected tenor and bass. Kanye West used the program to distance himself from his emotions — trusting only a robotic imitation of himself to deliver what he felt, knowing his limited, expressive rapping voice could not carry the emotions. Vernon’s motivations are far more mysterious. It is apparent he can sing and sing well, endowed with an angelic falsetto, just short of a castrati. Whatever the reasons may be, one must marvel at how Vernon casts off expectations and brings to light the beauty and the darkness he discovered in those woods.

RATING:

-Vman

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Recap: Best Of 2007

If you haven’t noticed, it’s unlikely we will post any more detailed, comprehensive, elaborate posts about the media that appeared in 2007. But there’s this post. Which is slightly comprehensive (at least on the music side of things).

Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters by the Twilight Sad is the best album of 2007. Original, new, brilliant, meaningful, emotional, real, great. Great live performers, as well.

UPDATE: Curses by Future Of The Left is the second best album of 2007. It is a great record.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is probably the best 2007 film I have seen. It is the most enjoyable film of the year. UPDATE: Hot Fuzz is a pretty fantastic film.

Some of my favorite tracks of 2007 include (there are some covers here):

  • “Furwinked The Lion/Bear Song” by Tereu Tereu, from Feline Ambition
  • “Ed Is A Portal” by Akron/Family, from Love Is Simple
  • “City Of Echoes” by Pelican, from City Of Echoes
  • “The Opposite of Hallelujah” by Jens Lekman, from Night Falls Over Kortedala
  • “We’re All From Barcelona” by I’m From Barcelona, from Let Me Introduce My Friends
  • “I Love The Unknown” by Eef Barzelay, from the Rocket Science motion picture soundtrack
  • “Grizzly Jive” by Georgie James, from Play
  • “Pretty in Pink” by The National, from their Daytrotter Session
  • “Pinklon” and “Ethiopians” by the Mountain Goats, from their Daytrotter Session at SXSW
  • “Pom Pom” by Matthew Dear, from Asa Breed
  • “Daughter” by Loudon Wainwright III, from Strange Weirdos…
  • “Conqueror” by Jesu, from Conqueror
  • “Skinny Love” by Bon Iver, from For Emma, Forever Ago
  • “Brand New Kind Of Actress” by Jason Isbell, from Sirens Of The Ditch
  • “Statues” by Foo Fighters, from Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace
  • “I Was Zapped By The Lucky Super Rainbow” by The Flaming Lips, from Good Luck Chuck Soundtrack
  • “In Our Talons” by Bowerbirds, from Hymns For A Dark Horse
  • “Not A Problem” by Black Lips, from Los Valientes del Mundo Nuevo

And of course, the standard indie rock singles were all nice and fine:

  • “The Underdog” by Spoon, from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
  • “Keep The Car Running” and “Neon Bible” by Arcade Fire, from Neon Bible
  • “Thrash Unreal” by Against Me!, from New Wave
  • “Dashboard” by Modest Mouse, from We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank
  • “D.A.N.C.E.” by Justice, from † (yes, it’s a catchy song)

Some of my favorite albums of 2007 include (key track/s. If no key tracks that means the album is really, really good.):

  • Let’s Stay Friends by Les Savy Fav
  • A Place To Bury Strangers by A Place To Bury Strangers
  • In Rainbows by Radiohead
  • Armchair Apocrypha by Andrew Bird
  • Challengers by The New Pornographers ( “My Rights Versus Yours,” “Myriad Harbour”)
  • Sing the Greys (2006) by Frightened Rabbit ( “Be Less Rude,” “The Greys”)
  • Era Vulgaris by Queens of the Stone Age ( “Turnin’ On The Screw,” “I’m Designer,” “Misfit Love,” “3’s & 7’s”)
  • Places by Georgie James ( “Cake Parade,” “Need Your Needs”)
  • Casually Smashed To Pieces by the Six Parts Seven ( “Falling Over Evening” <great, great song)
  • From Beale Street To Oblivion by Clutch ( “You Can’t Stop Progress,” “When Vegans Attack”)
  • Graduation by Kanye West ( “Can’t Tell Me Nothing,” “Stronger”)
  • Mirrored by Battles
  • It’s Not How Far You Fall, It’s The Way You Land by Soulsavers ( “Revival,” “Paper Money,” “Kingdoms Of Rain”)
  • In Our Nature by José González

Notable Albums of 2007 include (they range from good/okay to excellent):

  • Friend Opportunity by Deerhoof ( “+81,” “Believe E.S.P.”)
  • Holy F**k by Holy F**k
  • Nothing Is Underrated by Joe Lally
  • Myth Takes by !!! ( “Must Be The Moon,” “Heart Of Hearts”)
  • HEALTH by HEALTH
  • U.F.O.s At The Zoo – The Legendary Concert In Oklahoma City by The Flaming Lips
  • VI by The F**king Champs
  • All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone by Explosions In The Sky
  • Legendary Demo by Clouds
  • Play Drums + Bass by C.O.C.O.
  • Here Come The Waterworks by Big Business
  • Adrian Orange & Her Friends by Adrian Orange & Her Friends
  • Good Bad Not Evil by Black Lips
  • The Last Days of Rome by Snog
  • Harmonic Tremors by Zozobra
  • Tears of the Valedictorian by Frog Eyes

– R.H.

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