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Jason Panella

Bon Iver

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Picked up Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago on eMusic the other day. For some reason I dawdled in actually getting around to listening to it, but now that I have I'm incredibly impressed. Sure, I'd classify it as bedroom folk (a subgenre that, to paraphrase David Lowery, we need like we need a hole in our heads), but it's really well-written. Justin Vernon, the nom de plume's real face, multi-tracks his voice into this falsetto cloud of voices that brushes the music into neo-soul heaven. I'm really enjoying the album.

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yank_eh   
Picked up Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago on eMusic the other day. For some reason I dawdled in actually getting around to listening to it, but now that I have I'm incredibly impressed. Sure, I'd classify it as bedroom folk (a subgenre that, to paraphrase David Lowery, we need like we need a hole in our heads), but it's really well-written. Justin Vernon, the nom de plume's real face, multi-tracks his voice into this falsetto cloud of voices that brushes the music into neo-soul heaven. I'm really enjoying the album.

this is my favorite cranial aperture of 2008, so far.

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For Emma, Forever Ago is certainly on my list of favorites for the year so far. The only album beating it out is Sun Kil Moon's April. Matthew Sweet's upcoming Sunshine Lies might edge in there too, but that's only because he can do no wrong in my mind (even when he makes bad albums).

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opus   

Virb is currently streaming For Emma, Forever Ago in its entirety. Click here...

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Persona   

I'm listening to this now, again.

I've listened to it on an average of close to twice a week for the last year.

Contrary to popular opinion, I really like the new EP as well and play it on my iPod after For Emma, Forever Ago.

I am certain that Bon Iver and Iron and Wine are my favorite discoveries in the last two years. Yes, I was late to the Iron and Wine party, but I'm certainly glad I showed up.

Edited by stef

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Yeah, I also like the new EP. "Blood Bank" might be in my top five songs for 2009. No, it definitely is. "Woods" really is cool too, with the Autotune action. I've heard people complain about how it doesn't fit, but it's perfect on that album, sound-wise. Very eerie and comforting, at the same time.

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Yeah, I also like the new EP. "Blood Bank" might be in my top five songs for 2009. No, it definitely is. "Woods" really is cool too, with the Autotune action. I've heard people complain about how it doesn't fit, but it's perfect on that album, sound-wise. Very eerie and comforting, at the same time.

Well, I met you at the blood bank... I've been haunted by that song.

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gigi   

I can't make my mind up about Bon Iver. I quite like two of the tracks on the album - skinny love & blindsided - but I can't escape the feeling that it's somehow manipulative easy emotion that doesn't stand up to closer inspection. Nonetheless on occassion I can't get the tunes out of my head and have to stick it on itunes.

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Kyle   

I'm going to be the party pooper here. What's the big deal about Bon Iver? Sure he's likeable enough, but I've seen him on far too many "best of" lists (and not just the 2008 variety) and know too many people who swear by him. Perhaps I'm a bit crotchety and protective of my favorite troubadours and am unable to see the light. Still it bothers me that artists like Jason Molina and Will Johnson toil in obscurity while this guy seems to be all over the place. Perhaps its the whole "holed up in the woods to record an album" backstory. I don't know.

Rant over.

Again, it's likeable enough but I can't think of a single song (other than "Blood Bank") that I can even remember, and I've listened to the LP a dozen or so times and the EP a handful of times.

Second rant over.

Whew. I'm glad that's off my chest.

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Persona   

I'm going to be the party pooper here. What's the big deal about Bon Iver? Sure he's likeable enough, but I've seen him on far too many "best of" lists (and not just the 2008 variety) and know too many people who swear by him. Perhaps I'm a bit crotchety and protective of my favorite troubadours and am unable to see the light. Still it bothers me that artists like Jason Molina and Will Johnson toil in obscurity while this guy seems to be all over the place. Perhaps its the whole "holed up in the woods to record an album" backstory. I don't know.

Rant over.

Again, it's likeable enough but I can't think of a single song (other than "Blood Bank") that I can even remember, and I've listened to the LP a dozen or so times and the EP a handful of times.

Second rant over.

Whew. I'm glad that's off my chest.

I still love it. Maybe it's just not your thing, no biggie.

Is it about exposure maybe? I don't know who Jason Molina or Will Johnson are. I think I may have picked up my first Bon Iver because of a Paste review, I really can't remember how I came across him.

There may have been a lot of ads for him, too. It could just be about bigger marketing. I hate admitting that I, too, could be a sucker for bigger marketing. But hey, it happens, and that very well could have been the case.

Maybe your Jason Molina and Will Johnson are to you like my Nyles Lannon is to me. I've posted here twice and still really like the one record I have, enough to still have it in heavy rotation, although never as much as Iron and Wine or Bon Iver.

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I'm going to be the party pooper here. What's the big deal about Bon Iver? Sure he's likeable enough, but I've seen him on far too many "best of" lists (and not just the 2008 variety) and know too many people who swear by him. Perhaps I'm a bit crotchety and protective of my favorite troubadours and am unable to see the light. Still it bothers me that artists like Jason Molina and Will Johnson toil in obscurity while this guy seems to be all over the place. Perhaps its the whole "holed up in the woods to record an album" backstory. I don't know.

Rant over.

Again, it's likeable enough but I can't think of a single song (other than "Blood Bank") that I can even remember, and I've listened to the LP a dozen or so times and the EP a handful of times.

Second rant over.

Whew. I'm glad that's off my chest.

It's the Pitchfork phenomenon. I see it all the time. And it doesn't even require that all that many peoople actually pay attention to Pitchfork. Any time you have a high concentration of culturally aware twenty/thirty somethings (as I do at my church), it works like clockwork. Pitchfork bestows a 9.something rating on an album, two or three hipsters who read Pitchfork pick up the album, pass it along to their friends, and within weeks there is a general hue and cry that said album is the best album ever. It happened with Bon Iver. And Sufjan Stevens, and Fleet Foxes, and this year with Passion Pit and Animal Collective.

As Stef pointed out, there is a strong marketing component at work here. But it's viral marketing. It's word-of-mouth marketing. And it works like a charm. But I understand your frustration, Kyle. There are many deserving artists, perhaps even better artists, who toil in obscurity, while the Pitchfork heroes headline music festivals. I happen to think that Bon Iver's music is worthy of acclaim (as are the other artists mentioned). But I think there are better albums, and often they are ignored by Pitchfork, and hence by the rest of the hipsters. Pitchfork really does call the shots. It could be better, but it could be worse. People could still be paying attention to Rolling Stone, in which case all the hipsters would be passing around albums from Beyonce and Britney.

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It could be better, but it could be worse. People could still be paying attention to Rolling Stone, in which case all the hipsters would be passing around albums from Beyonce and Britney.

* hides copies of Beyonce and Britney albums *

Andy is right. And to use the Molina and Johnston example, Pitchfork has lauded both artists (in all of their incarnations) good reviews, but they've never had the hype machine go into full effect, either. Pitchfork has interviews, various gimmicky video shows, guest lists, etc. all revolving around their honored few, but maybe only a few reviews and news blurbs about Magnolia (et al). Guess who gets all of the attention.

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* hides copies of Beyonce and Britney albums *

Well, I wrote that as one who has received not one, not two, but three Beyonce products in the past month. First there was the regular release of Beyonce's I Am Sasha Fierce (editorial comment: and I am Conan the Barbarian). Then there was the I Am Sasha Fierce Deluxe Edition, which, in addition to the regular album, featured remixes and videos and stuff, I think. Then last week there was the 2-CD/1-DVD Live in Vegas extravaganza. It's been a full-on Beyonce media blitz.

Does anyone know that Christmas is coming up? It is.

For some reason, Sony has targeted me as the Spokesperson for Clueless Geriatrics. I will not do it, I tell you. No amount of Il Divo (Are We Not Men? No, We Are Il Divo) and Paul Potts and Susan Boyle and American Idol winners and losers in my mailbox will force me to adopt this role. I will not turn into the bifocal-wearing, Merlot-sipping PBS watcher who buys one album per year because he happens to tune in the night the light opera Tenors Of Our Time[1] are mixing Puccini with "Bridge Over Troubled Water."

I'm sorry, where was I? Back to Bon Iver ...

[1]2009 Edition

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Kyle   

Thanks you all.

Again, I want to reiterate, I don't think Bon Iver is bad. Far from it. It's pretty good for the most part. (I might like it more if it didn't receive such fawning appreciation.) I'm mostly confused as to what provokes the hype of a certain album/band/etc. I get the blogosphere and p-fork/sterogum hype that skyrockets the overall awareness an album receives. I don't necessarily think this is a bad thing. Think about how much deserved attention artists like the Arcade Fire have gained after Funeral for this very phenomenon.

That being said, why Bon Iver? That's a question that might not be able to be answered other than: "more people have different tastes than I do". What is it specifically about him that created such a buzz and the ensuing tipping point? Why not others?

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That being said, why Bon Iver? That's a question that might not be able to be answered other than: "more people have different tastes than I do". What is it specifically about him that created such a buzz and the ensuing tipping point? Why not others?

Who knows? I'm sure the backstory helped (heartbroken, flannel-clad beardo retreats to the primordial woods, hunts caribou, befriends Native Americans and exchanges beads for vast tracts of land, chops wood, and writes songs of inconsolable loss). But really, who knows? I know people who are knocked out by the songwriting. But I hear:

This is not the sound of a new man or crispy realization

Really? You coulda fooled me. The songs are pretty, but not that memorable. Some of the lyrics make me wince in pain. And that's really a complaint that I have about most of the neo-folkies/singer-songwriters of this decade. They make pleasant music. But don't even begin to tell me that they're as good as Dylan or Joni Mitchell or Jackson Browne. But that could just be my own prejudices and wistful dreams of the past talking.

So who knows? Personally, I think the beard goes a long way, and automatically communicates sensitivity and non-crispiness. That probably helped Justin.

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This is not the sound of a new man or crispy realization

I agree, but I'll offer this: as a music-first, notice lyrics-later guy, I love the dreary, alternate tuning action that Verner uses. Lots of open tuning on the guitar, droning notes, almost slowcore-ish segments of trembling guitar notes and rudimentary percussion. It's not perfect or anything; I mean, I often skill over half of For Emma and, well, 3/4 of Blood Bank, but there are some fantastic moments that remind me of something Jeff Martin (of the band Idaho) would write after getting his car stuck in a North Dakota snow bank.

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Persona   

...two or three hipsters who read Pitchfork pick up the album, pass it along to their friends, and within weeks there is a general hue and cry that said album is the best album ever.

I think you're right about how it works, but I don't even know two or three hipsters, and if I did, I'm sure they wouldn't like my Danish films.

That being said, why Bon Iver?

Honestly, I do have to say one thing in Bon Iver's defense: I don't like a lot of music. I try almost everything mentioned here, and maybe it is the former stuck up know-it-all musician in me, I don't know, I certainly never thought I was God's gift to the music world, but 99 out of 100 new music I listen to doesn't appeal to me at all. I hate Fleet Foxes to the core. Pretty much can't stand Animal Collective. I hate Passion Pit. (When I use the term "hate" here, I am only referring to the sound. Obviously I haven't met any of these bands.) I really don't like White Stripes at all. I think Joni Mitchell is super-lame and Dylan would've been a great American poet -- maybe he even is -- but man is his voice annoying as all get out. Van Morrison too. All bands with animals in their names, especially the two with "Deer" are WAY overrated. Joesph Arthur and Andrew Bird use way too many words to try and capture 15 different expressions instead of one, and they drive me up a tree. I don't care for Boards of Canada, Modest Mouse, The Killers, Bloc Party. I really, really, really hate The Fiery Furnaces, ugh can't stand that action. Settle on a meter for crying out loud. I can handle Sigur Rós for anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour and then I'm done with it for six months. I thought I was a cool hipster when I liked the Panda Bear album, but it wore out fast, I think it bored me after three listens. I've tried The Appleseed Cast, Jacob Golden, Califone, Jimmy Eat World, Kendall Payne, they wore out super duper fast. Ra Ra Riot I thought was going to be awesome. It wore out after two listens, I'd rather listen to Rick Astley, honestly. I would much rather listen to Sister Sledge.

I have been trying so hard, for so long, to love My Brightest Diamond, and I think I'm getting close, but I'm not there yet.

But when something does stick, I tend to become a very loyal follower. It just doesn't happen all that often, maybe once or twice a year, tops. I should never attempt to review music, because I believe that most of it is really quite bad.

I don't know why I fell in love with Bon Iver. Maybe it is because I feel I can take a hot bath a listen to him and relax. I even did this with candlelight once, all by myself.

So for some reason, this nerd who watches way too many films and really only loves Radiohead, U2, Arcade Fire, Beirut, Depeche Mode, old Cure, 16HP, Woven Hand, Nick Cave, Innocence Mission and old Cali-ccm-alterna like the Choir and the Nash Vegas Glassbyrd, which I'm sorry, I've tried to not like but Marc Byrd is a god with a small g......, for some reason I fell in love with Iron and Wine and Bon Iver in the past few years, even though I aspire to be, but fail to be as hip, as a hipster.

Then again, maybe I'm just getting old. :)

PS Who is Jackson Brown?

Edited by Persona

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Honestly, I do have to say one thing in Bon Iver's defense: I don't like a lot of music. * snip *

That was a pretty hipster response. :D

And speaking of Bon Iver, didn't Vernon mention that he wasn't going to record again under the Bon Iver moniker? (I've tried to get through the Volcano Choir CD five times, but I haven't made it yet without falling asleep.)

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Persona   

Honestly, I do have to say one thing in Bon Iver's defense: I don't like a lot of music. * snip *

That was a pretty hipster response. :D

Posted at 8:32 on a Friday night from a computer at home. Yeah, some hipster...

And speaking of Bon Iver, didn't Vernon mention that he wasn't going to record again under the Bon Iver moniker? (I've tried to get through the Volcano Choir CD five times, but I haven't made it yet without falling asleep.)

I rest my case. I didn't know he had a real name. :)

PS What is Vocano choir? Is it Bon Iver?

Edited by Persona

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Volcano Choir is a band made of of Vernon and some of his math rock buddies. It's kind of an atonal, minimalistic album. I normally like some of this kind of stuff, but there's nothing really to grab you here. Just percussive noises and meandering guitars.

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I didn't see it mentioned in this thread, so for those of you who haven't heard it, the song he did with St. Vincent for the *cough* New Moon Soundtrack *cough* is very good. Probably going to be my song of the year when it's all said and done.

Youtube won't work for me right now, but google tells me this is a link to the song:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXp4gB-bgjs

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Persona   

Beautiful. Now see, that's why I like him more than your average folkster. There's a lot of space available there, and there's something so unique in his vocals that I'm sure it takes some getting used to. Nobody busks like Bon Iver, I hope they get married.

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Persona   

Omigosh, with the Rosebuds opening. How utterly cool is that!

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