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bon iver

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Listen: Bon Iver – “With God On Our Side (Live Bob Dylan Cover)”

Just the other night, Bon Iver‘s Justin Vernon surprised fans in Portland with a fantastic cover of Bob Dylan‘s legendary ’60s anthem “With God On Our Side”. Completely free of Vernon’s signature falsetto and littered with triumphant trumpet solos, the indie folk singer gives the song an extremely emotional and powerful reworking for an awed crowd. Listen to a live recording from the show below.

MP3: Bon Iver – “With God On Our Side (Live)”

[Via 24Bit]

Listen: Bon Iver’s Solo Piano Version of “Beth/Rest”

“Beth/Rest” may just be this year’s most polarizing song. The closer to Bon Iver‘s sophomore album, the 80’s style soft-rock lullaby both stunned and wowed listeners. In his review, our own Darcy Morgan loved the unorthodox style and commented on how only Justin Vernon could pull off such a risky song. Vernon himself has repeatedly defended the “cheesiness” of the song in interviews.

Now, a few months after the song’s initial release, Vernon has given us even more to talk about. In his session for NPR World Cafe, the singer-songwriter performed a highly stripped-down version of the song on a piano bench. That’s right — no saxophones, no solos, no cheesiness. Just a performance of “Beth/Rest” in its most basic form, including some deep, nearly spoken vocals in the intro.

You can listen to the song here, as well as performances of “Holocene” and 2009’s “Blood Baby”. You can also stream/download the MP3 below.

MP3: Bon Iver – “Beth/Rest (Solo Piano Version)”


James Blake Announces ‘Enough Thunder’


Since unleashing his epic collaboration with Bon Iver‘s Justin Vernon on the world,James Blake has stirred quite a bit of discussion about something new called Enough Thunder, which was included in the Youtube description for “Fall Creek Boys Choir”. Now we know that it is the name of Blake’s forthcoming EP, which will be released on October 10 via Atlas Records, the same independent label that released his critically-acclaimed self-titled debut this past February.

The six-track EP will include “Fall Creek Boys Choir”, a cover of Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You”, and four new songs.

If you haven’t heard it already, you can listen to “Fall Creek Boys Choir” after the break. You can also grab it on iTunes here.

Listen: James Blake & Bon Iver – “Fall Creek Boys Choir”

joomplu:313James Blake and Bon Iver‘s first and widely anticipated collaborative track, “Fall Creek Boys Choir”, was just released by Blake on his Youtube page. Featuring production by Blake and vocals from Vernon, “Fall Creek Boys Choir” is a pretty minimalistic effort. Vernon’s signature auto-tuned falsetto meshes pretty well with the simple, thumping bassline throughout the song. My only complaint? Blake seems to be incorporating a random dog bark in the beat, which seems to disturb the flow of the song rather than help it. Give the track a listen below.

The track will be available for purchase on iTunes next week on August 29, 2011 and according to the Youtube page, “Enough Thunder – Oct 2011”. Could it be another new song or a full-fledged EP or album? No word yet, but any further efforts by these two should be of extremely high quality.

James Blake and Bon Iver Collaboration on August 24

joomplu:307Now that Kanye West and Jay-Z have teamed up and released Watch The Throne, it seems like more superstar collaborations are in our future. Indie kings James Blakeand Bon Iver, who both released critically-acclaimed albums this year, have teamed up and will be releasing, well, something. Taking to his Twitter account, Blake posted the following cryptic message: “24th August 2011 – James Blake & Bon Iver ‘Fall Creek Boys Choir'”. Justin Vernon owns a studio in Fall Creek, Wisconsin and the two both have incredible singing voices. As for what this project will be? No real details have been revealed.

Bon Iver Debuts At Number Two

Bon Iver‘s sophomore release Bon Iver has debuted at number 2 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart this week, selling a total of 104,000 copies. Justin Vernon and company were beaten out for the top spot by Jill Scott‘s The Light of the Sun, which managed to sell 135,000 copies. Check out Darcy’s review of the album here.

Review: Bon Iver – Bon Iver

Bon Iver – Bon Iver

Released: June 21, 2011
Label: 4AD / Jagjaguwar
Purchase: iTunes | Insound | Amazon

Bon Iver’s debut effort For Emma, Forever Ago was an outpouring of emotional tumult cast against the backdrop of a Wisconsin log cabin and not-yet forgotten heartbreak. Surrealist lyrics meandered through and around softly strummed guitar by way of a subdued falsetto, and as enigmatic front man Justin Vernon laid his miseries bare it was both intimate and understandable.  Four years on, and in their sophomore album Bon Iverthe American indie-folk ensemble have realized a sound that is superficially a bold step away from Vernon’s earnestly raw beginnings.

The log cabin is out of the picture, and Emma never mentioned. These two formative mainstays of For Emmahave been abandoned entirely, and in their place what remains is the question as to whether its’ follow up retains a similar sense of sincerity. Ultimately, writing critically about the ardor of this record is a conflicting undertaking, and stirs in the reviewer an inalienable sense of indecency. There is an emotional unrestraint to Vernon’s lyrics that makes any commentary feel facile – as if one were mentioning a subject-verb disagreement in a suicide note, or a poorly constructed metaphor in a wedding vow. These all seem so deeply personal and emotionally charged that perhaps fixating on trifling matters such as lucidity just isn’t decorum. The meanings of these songs are derived holistically – on their own, the lyrics oftentimes seem like gibberish and are possibly intentionally alien to a casual listener – and only after concerted effort. Very few listeners will be able to initially listen to “Calgary” and immediately glean that it is an ode to love between two people – who haven’t yet met. Once you realize this (which for this reviewer took all of four listens) not only does it seem beautiful, but it makes sense, too.

So is the record as honest as its predecessor? I would suppose that it probably isn’t, but therein lies the hidden difficulty of this record: who are we to judge the authenticity of something so obviously individual?

What can be said is that it has lost a sense of commonality that defined For Emma. In Emma, there was a prevalent sense of desperation that shone through the Vernon-specific subject matter simply because it was so relatable. Bon Iver falters here – the album is thematically incongruent. “Perth”, a “civil war heavy metal” piece is followed by “Minnesota, WI”, a declaration of strength following saying goodbye. This trend of dissimilarity is continued across the album and it is less connective as a result.

Where the album truly excels is in its impeccable arrangement, and the sheer technical skill that was less pronounced on For Emma. Their debut was economically constructed and at times sparse, whereas Bon Iveris a work of maximalist near-perfection. Whether this is as a result of Vernon’s continued collaboration with the egomaniacal Kanye West or the inclusion of new band members Mike Noyce, S. Carey (of solo fame) and Matthew McCaughan is unclear, but regardless there is an obvious musical confidence to the album. Consider the oft-discussed “Beth/Rest” – a superficially comical track that treads on the musical DMZ of early-eighties, Richie-esque love ballads but, perplexingly, pulls it off.  Very few artists would voluntarily include a church organ in their album’s closer, but Bon Iver has and the result is a track that is both soaring and tender not in spite, but rather because, of the unorthodox arrangement.

The similarities between Vernon and his frequent collaborator ‘Ye end here, though – where Kanye’s confidence extends into arrogance, there are no pretentions in Bon Iver’s work. Consider Vernon’s mournfully trill on “Holocene”, “at once I knew / I was not magnificent”: the persona presented throughout this album is immediately human and moreover likeable. This serves to imbue the record with a unassailable imperative to listen, just listen, and appreciate.

Bon Iver is as lovely, dark and deep as the woods of Vernon’s Midwestern hometown. It is a confusing and touching record, and consistently defies interpretation. It may be less relatable than For Emma, Forever Ago, but don’t let this belie the fact that this is a transformative album. Substantial, buoyant, staunch – Bon Iver’sBon Iver is, at least in this reviewer’s opinion, the best album of the year so far.


Standout Tracks: “Holocene” and “Beth/Rest”

Watch Bon Iver on The Colbert Report

To promote their newly-released record, Justin Vernon-fronted Bon Iver dropped by The Colbert Report to perform two songs: the lead single “Calgary” from Bon Iver, Bon Iver and long-time fan favorite “Skinny Love” off For Emma, Forever Ago. Hit the break to check out the videos.

The new album was released yesterday in the UK and Europe via 4AD and is now available everywhere else via Jagjaguwar. They’ll be dropping by on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” tonight for another performance. If that’s still not enough, be sure to check out one of Jagjaguwar’s listening parties for the LP across America. You can check out those locations here.

Bon Iver – “Calgary”

Bon Iver – “Skinny Love”

Stream Bon Iver’s ‘Bon Iver, Bon Iver’

Bon Iver‘s breathtaking new album Bon Iver, Bon Iver won’t be officially released by Jagjaguwar until June 21, but you can listen to the album in its entirety now on NPR. The follow up to 2007’s For Emma, Forever Ago, which was universally lauded by critics and fans, Bon Iver, Bon Iver offers the same emotion from singer-songwriter Justin Vernon, but trades For Emma‘s rawness for a more complete and vivid feel. Instead of the wintery atmosphere of For Emma, Justin’s latest effort is more fit for a warm summer’s night, perfect for the upcoming summer months.

Be sure to give the album a listen and to purchase it when it is released on June 21.

Jagjaguwar Post Lyrics to Bon Iver’s ‘Bon Iver, Bon Iver’

Jagjaguwar has posted the official lyric sheet to Bon Iver‘s upcoming album Bon Iver, Bon Iver. The highly-anticipated follow up to 2007’s For Emma, Forever Ago is set to be released on June 21 in the US via Jagjaguwar and on June 20 in the UK and Europe via 4AD. Unsurprisingly, the lyrics are chock full of Justin Vernon’s signature undecipherable lyrics. Our favorite lines?

Here are some early contenders:

  • armour let it through, borne the arboretic truth you kept posing
    sat down in the suit, fixed on up it wasn’t you by finished closing
  • settle past a patience where wishes and your will are spilling pictures
  • …and at once I knew I was not magnificent
  • I… we’re sewing up through the latchet greens
    I… un-peel keenness, honey, bean for bean
    same white pillar tone as with the bone street sand is thrown where she stashed us at
    all been living alone, where the cracks at in the low part of the stoning
  • errant heat to the star
    and the rain let in
    the hawser rolls, the vessel’s whole and Christ, it’s thin

As for an explanation behind the album title? No official word from Vernon yet, but due to the number of location-based songs on the tracklist, Bon Iver, Bon Iver may be a play on words along the lines of “Minnesota, WI”, “Hinnom, TX” and “Lisbon, OH”.