Before Justin Vernon was in Bon Iver he was quite the busy man; he had a solo project going on, and he was also in a band called DeYarmond Edison (but thats for another day). His pre-Bon music certainly has a different sound to it; the infamous howl (that we seriously love way too much… where the hell does it COME from?!), for example, did not seem to develop until the Bon Iver/alone-in-a-cabin-in-the-wood days.
There are two albums that Justin Vernon put out under his name; Self-Titled and Hazeltons. In the dark and gloomy days of winter, this under-produced music will make you feel warm and happy (Okay, maybe happy is a little far fetched…). Don’t start getting turned off yet, as I am using the words under-produced to describe a sound which is extremely raw and hallow (the best kind of music, in our opinion), making it perfect for winter listening. It does not want you to take it too seriously, it just wants you to listen.
The Self-Titled album includes seventeen tracks, including a haunting 12-minutes of no words; just trumpets and guitars and all that great stuff (We Will Never Die).
this is tougher than I thought
holding you, the grace I’ve caught
cause you’re made of everything I want
and I am ringing you out
like a morning bell, I am ringing you out
like the kitchen rags of God, I am ringing out out
like my voice across the hill, I am ringing you out
like water on your feet,
and you are everything to me
Don’t we all just wish Justin Vernon wrote that about us? Who wouldn’t want to be the grace he’s caught? Hey… maybe in another life..
If you can not get enough of Bon Iver and must hear more, then go on a hunt for some of Vernon’s solo work (you might have to use your claws to dig deep for this one)!
Some people are just suckers for bands that have a distinct vocalist. With these bands, you usually love them right away, or you need to listen to them and “get used” to the sound to really love them. Either way, if you are one of those people, then you are sure to enjoy/love/get a tattoo of The National. Matt Berning sings in a sombre voice which makes even explosive songs (instrumentally) sound mellowed out. He takes his time to get each word out with absolute confidence and seriousness in what he is saying (even when it sounds something like: Karen put me in a chair/fuck me and make me drink). And why shouldn’t he? His amazing lyrics are worthy of such a strong voice. And trust me, they will make you feel like you could have written these words about someone you’ve been missing. One of my very favourite lyrics is:
Build a room for your love
Take your time when you tell her
How she lives in your blood
You should’ve looked after her better
You should’ve looked after her more
You should’ve locked the door
Val Jester is a beautiful song that is about taking things for granted. This is something we all do with things in our life, and also more severely with people in our life. We don’t appreciate them and what they do for us. We do not take the time to think about how our lives would be different if this person were not in it. Then, when they are gone, all we can do is live in regret and miss them to death and feel like you don’t deserve them. (At least, that’s my take on this song… Listen to it and tell me what you think!)
If you are new to this band, we recommend that you start with Alligator because… well it is the one we started with, and there are several outstanding tracks such as Daughters of the Soho Riots(!!!), Val Jester, All the Wine, and The Geese of Beverly Road( just to name a few). The key feelings that are expressed in the album are those of guilt, regret, and desperation; feeling like everything in your life is not right and was maybe better at another point.
Having said all of this, something tells me that this may be one of those albums where every song is about the same girl (uh… Karen?). It is usually boring and repetitive to listen to albums that revolve around one girl. But even though Alligator may very well be about the same girl or the same relationship, it explores many points where things went wrong in a relationship that has been dragged out. There are so many of these levels that you could literally write a whole album/book/great American screenplay about it..
The guys have a new CD they’ve been working on, which is hopefully coming out sometime this year! In the meantime, we will all just hold ourselves over with Alligator (or any of their other albums!) which is definitely music that everyone who has feelings can connect with, so give it a listen! (Unless you’re a robot.. or an animal… like a zebra.. in that case, we’d really like it if you said hi to us!).
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