Tag: DJ Ones
by DJ Ones on Nov.14, 2011, under Daytime
I think I picked the right place to study abroad.
Constellations Festival is relatively young, but that doesn’t keep the event from bringing in some of Indie’s finest acts. 2010′s festival included the likes of Broken Social Scene, Sleigh Bells, Local Natives, The Vaccines, and many other fantastic acts. With hopes high for this year, the festival returned to the University of Leeds Student Union on Nov. 12, and it brought acts including Yuck, Braids, The Big Pink, The Antlers, and Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks.
One building, five different proper music venues, and nine hours of cramming in as much music as possible is a daunting task to say the least, and thankfully the folks planning this event allowed for seeing the majority of the largest names with ease. They could have easily planned the event in a way that makes more sense musically. This would include The Antlers opening for Wild Beasts, Yuck opening for Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, and Summer Camp opening for The Big Pink. Thankfully the large acts played back to back in the same venue with the periods in between sets long enough to pop over to another venue and catch the majority of another band’s show.
The culmination of these elements made for one hell of an afternoon and night filled with music, and below are some of the highlights.
This was by far the biggest surprise of the night. I was amused by the sound of Summer Camp after my initial listen of their debut album Welcome to Condale, but I felt as if there was still much to be desired. Although I had my reservations about the group, they put on one of the most delightful performances of the festival. Their love of 80s nostalgia, although they are probably too young to remember the 80s, brought about a charm to the performance. Famous dance scenes from 80s films projected to a screen on stage alongside the upbeat pop duets with some real swing left me wanting to reevaluate my initial stance on their debut.
Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks
One of the most anticipated acts of the festival did exactly what they needed to do. Consistent throughout, Malkmus and company brought their a-game during their hour-long set. Playing mostly new tracks off of Mirror Traffic, they also revisited some of the earlier solo work from Malkmus. The act left me feeling satisfied and lived up to many of expectations I had.
If you are a fan of Yuck’s self-titled debut, you need to see this band live. There are certain things that recorded songs cannot convey, and the sense of raw, distorted power is definitely one of them. The band had some initial technical hiccups after the mics cut out on them toward the end of their last song, and walked off as the stage crew came back on to get everything working properly. The band took it in stride. After walking back on stage frontman Daniel Blumber jokingly announced, “This is our longest encore ever.” The band mixed up their tracks much like in their album, going from one faster paced harder sound to one a bit more reserved. It was the track “Rubber” that stole the show. The 7-minute song provided a visceral listening experience that shook the ears and body to its distorted 90s rock core, something much better understood when experienced instead of described.
This band is easily one of the best in filling the room with their atmospheric sound, regardless of size. That’s exactly what they did on this night. Playing the best from their debut and their second album, The Antlers demonstrated how they are able to beautifully construct songs that in some moments lack vocals yet sound structured, and when the vocals kick in it provides a fine compliment to their rest of their truly gorgeous sound.
It was a bit of a homecoming for the band currently based in Leeds, and their set brought out the largest crowd of the entire night. The large room was packed to the ceiling as the band covered tracks from their entire discography, and the songs both slow and upbeat highlighted the best of the band. Like Yuck, Wild Beasts live proved just how incredibly powerful their vocals are. It felt like a somewhat surreal experience to hear these regular guys produce such operatic and captivating voices. All in all, they gave one of the best performance of the night ending what was already a fantastic day.
by DJ Ones on Oct.26, 2011, under Daytime
The single for The Black Keys’ next album El Camino has been released online by the band. The video features a very enthusiastic listener dancing along to the lyrics to the song, not unlike how many of us DJs at WKNC dance in the studio. El Camino is set for release Dec. 6.
“This in no way a return to basics; it is an example of how to successfully tackle the complex.”
If there was one thing Alan Palomo would have to answer to with his second album as Neon Indian, it would be the huge amount of hype and acclaim from his 2009 debut Psychic Chasms. The Texas-based musician, coming off of rave reviews and praise, also had the distinct problem of being grouped among a handful of musicians making similar, yet compelling music. All this combined did not necessarily make it easier for Palomo and company to make a successful second album.
With labeling and comparisons easy to make in a market of music that includes a wide range of rising musicians including Toro y Moi, Washed Out, and well-established artists like Caribou, they had to make an album that was different from an ever-growing crowd of talented musicians and grounded favorites, yet true to the essence of their sound.
In the face of this diversity, Neon Indian was able to answer with one of the most compelling synthpop albums of the year in Era Extraña.
The art of mixing layers of synthesizers is one of the distinguishing factors of this album. Delicately placed and perfectly timed, the ability that Neon Indian has in execution in an area that could have easily been cluttered is one of the more admirable qualities of the record. The expertise of placement lays in the fact that Neon Indian is able to get these really poppy, intricate patterns of synthesizer without being cluttered or ruining their sound.
The best example of how this execution works so masterfully comes within the track “Polish Girl.” The track is able to build upon itself, adding diversity and spouting with moments of colorful synthesizer that shoot from the heart of the track itself. On top of this includes subtle moments that add rhythmically and effectively to the overall track.
With all this in mind it’s also necessary to point out the amount of variation that Neon Indian goes through from track to track. From glittery synth tracks like “Polish Girl” to grittier, harder sounds like “The Blindside Kiss,” Neon Indian demonstrates how they are able to change up their sound while keeping the essence of their synthpop intact.
Much of the credit of this album is in response to how Palomo’s harmonic arrangements hold this collection of wild songs together. It is his effort as a singer that has the impact of charging this coherent sound forward.
Coherence is a big part of the story of this album. Though it is able to change, the album still holds onto its original focus. This not only keeps it compelling to listen to, but it gives the listener a sense of anticipation on how Neon Indian will go about making the next track different.
This in no way a return to basics; it is an example of how to successfully tackle the complex. At its core, it’s a rewarding, fun, electro-pop record that leaves much to the imagination, and demands its listeners to hold on for what is coming up next.
At 23 years of age, Palomo is creating complex musical arrangements at a level that seem way beyond his years. Throughout Neon Indian’s sophomore release, they are able to tackle the hype of their previous success, and leave the listener wondering what the boundaries of such a young act are.
by DJ Ones on Oct.17, 2011, under Daytime
Out of all of the bands that had an excellent 2009, French songsters Phoenix had a breakout year with their album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. Now their 2009-10 world tour has become the subject of a new documentary chronicling the band’s trip across the globe. That documentary, which is titled From a Mess to the Masses, is directed by Antione Wagner, who was also responsible for the music video of the single “Lisztomania.” You can watch the entire documentary below.
by DJ Ones on Oct.12, 2011, under Daytime
The Black Keys are set to follow up their Grammy-winning album Brothers with El Camino, which will be released Dec. 6 in the United States.
However, their announcement was not without some hijinks. As originally posted by Rock it Out!, the Ohio duo released a video showcasing a van salesman; at the end of the video the release date, a website, and The Black Keys are all connected.
It does not stop there. The website wannabuyavan.com instructs you to call (330) 510-1206, which ultimately leads you to message recorded by drummer Pat Carney about the van he is trying to sell. Unfortunately, this line is almost always busy.
Update: Since this morning’s original information was released, more details have come out about the new album including the cover art and the track listing, which is below. The first single of the new album is titled “Lonely Boy,” and will be released on Oct. 26.
01 Lonely Boy
02 Dead and Gone
03 Gold on the Ceiling
04 Little Black Submarines
05 Money Maker
06 Run Right Back
08 Hell of a Season
09 Stop Stop
10 Nova Baby
11 Mind Eraser
by DJ Ones on Oct.03, 2011, under Daytime
Consider this an introduction, partly because many of you may have never visited nor even heard of the lovely Brudenell Social Club. The main reason for this is because it is in Leeds, England, where I, DJ Ones, am currently stationed for my year on exchange. I found myself looking for great music clubs in this fine city and stumbled across the Brudenell Social Club, where I learned that KNC favorite Megafaun had played a handful of days before my arrival in the U.K. When I heard that Male Bonding would be playing a couple of days later on Oct. 1, I grabbed a new friend with a funny accent and headed over to the Brudenell.
After the doors opened at 7:30 p.m. and four local bands played with mixed reactions from the crowd, Male Bonding finally took the stage in this modestly-sized baseball field-shaped club.
Coming off of the release of their new, cleaner sounding album Endless Now I wondered how their new material would translate to the scruffy sound of their live shows. The show itself highlighted the best of this relatively new band’s already impressive two albums. A mixture of sounds from their previous two records leaned towards the fulfilling and more abrasive rock sound of their debut Nothing Hurts. This combined with the scrappy tracks of their debut produced a cohesive and enjoyable rock experience.
About halfway through the set I realized what was at the heart of some of their best material: the percussion section. From the visceral bass introduction to songs like “Weird Feelings” to the faster drums of “Year’s Not Long,” the sound came across with both style and substance. Fast-paced, upbeat, and to the point, Male Bonding put on one hell of a live show filled with few breaks and constant excitement.
It was with the last song, “Year’s Not Long,” that ended the night on a high note. Male Bonding provided a set full of controlled chaos: a fine balance of frantic instrumentals and cohesive songwriting. The sound in the Brudenell was great, Male Bonding was a bottle of energy, and their set was satisfying and memorable as a first for myself in the U.K.
by DJ Ones on Aug.30, 2011, under Uncategorized
Late last week I sent an email out to the WKNC staff to ask them to tell me what their grievances in music are. It’s not quite Festivus yet, but as the school year starts and stress starts to build up, I thought now would be an appropriate time. I left things pretty open. The idea was simple. All they needed to do was send me any pet peeve they had in the music world. From fans, to artists, and everything in between, I received a little bit of everything. Out of all the emails that I have sent to our good-looking staff, this one warranted the greatest response. Below are the musical pet peeves in order that I received them.
Do you have a musical pet peeve? Air your grievances in the comment section below.
La Barba Rossa: Down with the hippie twirl!
DJ Stutterz: People who squeeze in front of you at a show like they are moving and then stand two feet in front of you the whole show. Also people who obnoxiously yell cover song titles in hopes of them being played. People at electronic shows who are more concerned with their glowsticks, glowing/flashing light things, fairy wings then they are with the actual music. I understand that it’s fun to dress up and all but I hate it when there is more focus on the guy twirling a glowstick ball then there is the actual music.
R. Cory Smith: I cannot stand sirens in music. Like that sh*t at the beginning of Drake and Lil Wayne songs. God, that’s awful.
Kyle “El Generalissimo” Robb: When people use “techno” as a blanket term for all electronic music. That 8 foot tall guy at every show who always seems to stake out a spot directly in front of you. You can try leaning to one side, but his subconscious ESP will tell him he needs to lean the same direction.
The Cosmic Cowboy: My pet peeve: the genre of music dubstep.
Mason: Anybody who craps on music on the simple merit that it’s “too mainstream.” At WKNC, we play different music because it’s an opportunity we have as a non-commercial station. We don’t have to worry about corporate giants standing over our shoulders wagging money in our faces. It’s not like all main-stream music is horrible… only some of it is. Music snobbery drives me insane. Just because music doesn’t fit our particular daytime format doesn’t mean that a person who listens to it is an idiot. PS, I freaking love Beyoncé’s new album, Brittney’s ‘new’ album, and Kanye West. I’ve also recently begun to enjoy (I’m behind the times) TLC and Mariah Carey. There is nothing wrong with me. I just appreciate good classics and respect pop hooks from heaven.
Cannibal Cory: I hate it when I listen to a death metal song and can’t eat people at the same time.
Dr. J: My musical pet peeve would be people who, in my opinion, think it’s cool to think Johnny Cash is cool. What do they know about Johnny Cash? I’ve listened to Johnny Cash my entire life. Name me six Johnny Cash songs, poser.
.jose jose.: I hate it when people talk sh*t about an artist during the show and then go tell them how much they loved it afterwards.
One Cool Dude: When people say, “I listen to everything but rap and country.”
DJ Shorty Fernarnar: Anytime you go to a concert for your favorite band, and the person sitting next to you doesn’t even listen to the band, they’re just going to go. So, they act obnoxious and disrespectful while you’re trying to listen to your favorite tunes.
Emmaroo: Not to bash on musicians, but could they please stop creating epic buildups that make me want to pee my pants with anticipation and then present a mediocre “hook” of no musical merit. Or who have such a great start to end with an inconsequential chorus. Just to throw some bands under the bus: Foals, After Glow and one Andrew Bird Song the name of which escapes me right now. I think it’s from Andrew Bird and the Mysterious Production of Eggs? I can’t remember but it pisses me off. Also when people ask if I’ve heard of a fairly mainstream band and when I say no instead of going “oh it’s awesome! you should listen, you’ll enjoy it” they make a face and utter something along the lines of “where have you been?” or “are you kidding me how have you not heard them?!”. If you’re that surprised I haven’t heard of the band then just assume I have and don’t ask.
Mollypop: Off beat clapping. Like, I understand you’re excited. I understand you’re drunk. But there is NO NEED to clap when 1) the band hasn’t encouraged the clapping and 2) when you’re off-beat. F**kers.
DJ Saber: Tweeted this as it happened today in class because it really irks me when people blast their music through their headphones IN A DEAD SILENT AREA. Of course I love music, but not when it’s squeezed out of someone else’s ear bud. The result is comparable to screaming child who won’t calm their sh*t. It’s a terrible noise. It’s completely unnecessary to turn your music up on full blast in a quiet place.
Shorty Shorts: Long car rides, like a hour or more, of someone’s musical taste imposed on me (if I don’t like it, of course). I love the music I listen to, but I like to be conscious enough not to make others listen to it if they don’t want to. Sure, taste in music is subjective. I get that, and I don’t care what you listen to, but if you make me listen to it… for an extended amount of time… I’ll hate you.
The Voice of Reason: If I go to a show, I dread seeing folks stand about like the sedated undead. It happens so often as to not be a pet peeve anymore, but it’s disheartening to bop around while folks shuffle their feet like having fun is a felony.
Psychonaut: Bands who save their best songs for the encore. Not that I don’t enjoy hearing those songs, but because it invalidates the whole idea of the encore. An encore is supposed to be for a band that does a great job and entertains the crowd enough that they want more and more. Instead, they’ve become a farce where it’s essentially the band just taking a break and enjoying a forced round of applause and cheering from the crowd.
DJ Bunch: People who keep moshing during a slow breakdown. Give it a rest for 30 seconds, douche! Also, fat people who try to crowd surf (particularly when the crowd has a disproportionate amount of rail-thin teenagers).
Filthy Rich: Ke$ha. In addition to Ke$ha, another one of my pet peeves is when I’m at a show and people in the crowd start shooting video with their phones. Not only are they waving their arms an inch away from my head and obstructing the view of the stage, they’re not really focusing on the show if they’re concentrating on making a shitty video. Then, that shitty video will end up on YouTube as a noisy blur that doesn’t do the band justice. (Unless, of course, it’s Ke$ha.)
DJ Bullcity: Dubstep fanboys that spend twice as much time analyzing dubstep, where it came from, and what qualifies as dubstep, then actually listening to it.
DJ LiViD: When people whistle to a song.
DJ Dylan-ger: When you specifically make a party playlist of seven hours of music to play off your iPod speakers, and then someone comes along and changes it to Lil Wayne, or any other music you could hear at ANY party but your own. And when you try to change it back: “No one knows your music!” Shut up and enjoy my jams I handpicked just for you.
DJ Elly May: I hate when I tell someone specifically that I love a song on the radio in the car and turn it up and then they proceed to talk over it. Helloooo! Shut up!
Captain SKAmerica: Just because you prefer a band’s older material, you are automatically referred to as a hipster. Also that one girl at every punk and ska show that stands at the front in the mosh pit and gets mad when people run into her. If you’re in the pit, you’re gonna get hit. Get it through your head.
Adam Kincaid: Bands, especially local bands, who think they are “too popular” for our station. F**k you. If we can have half of the national touring acts we do come in for interviews you can drag your ass five minutes down the road for a chat once a year. Especially if you owe your local popularity to WKNC’s programming. Our LOCAL listeners want to hear from their favorite popular LOCAL acts because they feel a sense of ownership and pride in making your music as well known as it is. I also can’t believe no one has mentioned people talking during shows. Shut the hell up about your ex-boyfriends cousins best friend who glared at you at a coffee shop 2 weeks ago and remember she was the one who was wearing that super expensive shirt like she was hot shit and like, OMG, that mole on her arm is sooooooo gross. I’m trying to enjoy myself without hearing your coffee talk. If you have to scream over a concert to have a conversation you are in the wrong place.
Chocolate Rice: iTunes.
DJ C.E.O: When people decide that they want to sing along with me! I quickly tell them that this is not a duet. When people are skimming through their iPod looking for a song and skips all the good songs! Just pause it until you’re ready to play something instead of teasing me! When people (mainly my mom) play the same song over, and over, and over again. When I go see an artist live and they let the audience sing a full song. Especially if it’s one of my favorites. When I go to a show and the sound system is POOR. When I go to a party and the DJ takes me on an emotional roller coaster by playing really fast songs followed by really slow ones. Like WTH?
Sarahnade: The chord progression GCD in recorded music. When someone wants to show me a song then talks over it. Quiet music when loud music is equally/more appropriate people at a show who are are completely stoic.
It: I really dislike it when I’m driving in the car and someone can’t just listen to one song all the way though and changes it right when I’m getting into it. Also, people who try to talk to me during concerts; I can’t hear you, I didn’t come to the venue to hear you and unless something crazy is going on you are just hurting my ears by yelling in them.
Chuck: My biggest musical pet peeve is people talking at quiet shows. Story time: July 22, 2009. XX Merge at Cat’s Cradle. The Magnetic Fields begin their (wonderful) set. Live, the band tends to go all acoustic, so it’s pretty quiet. The bands starts, yet above the music everyone can hear lots of loud chatter at the bar in the back. The entire crowd then shushes them and the venue becomes completely silent, allowing for the music to be the only thing anyone heard. It was great.
DJ Ones: My biggest pet peeve comes from my time in the music director world. It irks me so much when someone sends an album to the station that is in terrible packaging. Instead of a proper CD case with clear listings of the track, artist, and album name, they send you this thin slit that hugs the CD. When that thing goes into our library it disappears beside properly packaged CDs. The labels and artists that get the most spins are usually those with the best packaging.
by DJ Ones on Aug.27, 2011, under Specialty
July 2012 would mark the 100th birthday of one of music’s greatest and most influential artists, Woodie Guthrie. Unfortunately, Guthrie would not be able to mark this occasion himself, as he passed away in 1967. However, the Guthrie estate has some big things planned for the would-be 100 year birthday of the artist. 429 Records will be publishing “Note of Hope: A Celebration of Woodie Guthrie.” Featuring artists from Tom Morello to Lou Reed to Jackson Browne, the compilation will feature songs which have been interpreted from archival writings of Guthrie. It will be released September 27. For a full track listing look below.
Al0ngside all of this Mermaid Avenue will be released as a box-set featuring outtakes and a documentary showcasing the making of the album. Mermaid Avenue was a collaboration where artists including Wilco’s Billy Bragg. This is set for a release some time next year.
Note of Hope track listing:
1 “The Note Of Hope” – Van Dyke Parks
2 “Wild Card In The Hole” – Madeleine Peyroux
3 “Ease My Revolutionary Mind” – Tom Morello
4 “The Debt I Owe” – Lou Reed
5 “Union Love Juice” – Michael Franti
6 “Peace Pin Boogie” – Kurt Elling
7 “Voice” – Ani DiFranco
8 “I Heard A Man Talking” – Studs Terkel
9 “Old Folks” – Nellie Mckay
10 “On The High Lonesome” – Chris Whitley
11 “There’s A Feeling In Music” – Pete Seeger & Tony Trischka
12 “You Know The Night” – Jackson Browne
by DJ Ones on Aug.27, 2011, under Daytime
World Cafe has been broadcasting out of WXPN in Philadelphia for 20 years, and in commemoration of their two decades of bringing excellent music, World Cafe has announced plans of a compilation featuring some of the best live performances by many of the best in independent music over the years. In exchange for donations to WXPN listeners can receive Live at the World Cafe, 20th Anniversary Edition on either CD or vinyl. In addition to the compilation there will also be a weekend celebration concert from October 28-30 in Philadelphia.
The track listing is:
1 Vampire Weekend – “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa”
2 Beach House – “Zebra”
3 David Gray – “Babylon”
4 Fleet Foxes – “White Winter Hymnal”
5 Joseph Arthur – “Honey And The Moon”
6 Coldplay – “Shiver”
7 LCD Soundsystem – “All My Friends”
8 Brandi Carlile – “Dreams”
9 Ben Folds Five – “Brick”
10 Crash Test Dummies – “Superman Song”
11 Damien Rice – “Volcano”
12 Feist – “1234”
13 The National – “Start A War”
14 Patty Griffin – “Rain”
15 Erin McKeown – “Blackbirds”
16 Ray LaMontagne & The Pariah Dogs – “Trouble”
1 Dave Matthews Band – “Ants Marching”
2 Lucinda Williams – “Get Right With God”
3 Dr. Dog – “Shadow People”
4 Dawes – “When My Time Comes”
5 Adele – “Rolling In The Deep”
6 Gregg Allman – “Just Another Rider”
7 Amos Lee – “El Camino”
8 Dan Mangan – “Road Regrets”
9 Old 97’s – “Every Night Is Friday Night (Without You)”
10 The Decemberists – “This Is Why We Fight”
11 Bobby Long – “Who Have You Been Loving?”
12 Fitz & The Tantrums – “MoneyGrabber”
13 James – “Say Something”
14 Black Dub – “Surely”
15 Justin Townes Earle – “Christchurch Woman”
16 Bert Jansch – “BlackWaterSide”
For more information on the compilation or how to donate to WXPN you can visit their website here.
by DJ Ones on Aug.26, 2011, under Daytime
On August 17 James Blake’s Twitter (@jamesblake) sparked mentions of a collaboration between himself and Bon Iver. BBC Radio 1 had the pleasure of debuting the collaboration August 24. The song “Fall Creek Boys Choir” features the experimental electronica sense of both artists, as the vocals layer into a whirlwind of sultry electronica goodness. The vocals were performed on behalf of Bon Iver with James Blake backing the production aspect of the track. The song will be available for purchase on August 29. You can listen to the collaboration below.
by DJ Ones on Aug.25, 2011, under Daytime
Florence and the Machine are set to release their sophomore full length November 7 in the UK. No exact date has been announced for the rest of the world, but it is expected the album it will be released later in November. The currently untitled LP is set to follow-up the massively successful debut, Lungs, which was released in 2009. Alongside of this news, Florence and the Machine have released a new song titled “What the Water Gave Me.” The soulful new song is available to listen to below.
by DJ Ones on Aug.02, 2011, under Daytime
After some time apart it looks as if The Shins are back to making music once again. The Shins, who have been working on new material as of late, are set to release a new album sometime next year via Aural Apothecary/Columbia. Alongside of the news of signing to Columbia, The Shins have also announced a brief tour from August through early October.
Earlier this year, Hooray For Earth released their first proper LP “True Loves,” an album characterized by loud, sharp synths and poppy vocals. Prior to their performance at King’s Barcade for Deja Mi, the band was kind enough to stop by the WKNC studios for an interview.
We’ve uploaded the audio in its entirety for you to listen to here! Hear what the band had to say about filming the music video for “True Loves,” their upcoming September concert with Cymbals Eat Guitars at Local 506, and the thrills of sleep exhaustion while on tour!
by DJ Ones on Jul.20, 2011, under Daytime
In commemoration of the 20-year anniversary of Nirvana’s famous album Nevermind, artists including Telekinesis, Surfer Blood, and Jeff the Brotherhood have each recorded an individual song off of the classic album. Starting Tuesday, July 19 Newermind will be available for free download on SPIN magazine’s Facebook page.
The track listing is
1. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Meat Puppets
2. “In Bloom” by Butch Walker
3. “Come As You Are” by Midnight Juggernauts
4. “Breed” by Titus Andronicus
5. “Lithium” by The Vaselines
6. “Polly” by Amanda Palmer
7. “Territorial Pissings” by Surfer Blood
8. “Drain You” by Foxy Shazam
9. “Lounge Act” Jessica Lea Mayfield
10. “Stay Away” by Charles Bradley and the Menahan Street Band
11. “On A Plain” by Telekinesis
12. “Something In The Way” by Jeff the Brotherhood
13. “Endless, Nameless” by EMA
Coming off of the success of his self-released debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago, Justin Vernon, lead singer of Bon Iver, had a lot to live up to. Where he could have relied solely on the success of his debut, Vernon decided to evolve out of the cold, isolated feelings of the debut, and move into a world of sound that is optimistic yet grounded in reality, and colorful in its production.
The execution of tracks is quintessentially different. While in For Emma, Forever Ago the instrumentals were consistent and to the point, Bon Iver have produced a sound that is complex and varies multiple times within any given track. “Perth,” the opener, starts with drums that drive the song forward. Then come along Vernon’s vocals that push the forward. Then both come together for what is an extremely powerful moment within the opening track.
Bon Iver’s self-titled album is muddled in its beautiful and tragic compositions—the mixture of sounds and paces transforms what could have come off as another tragic album into something that has hints of hope.
Although grounded in reality, the guitars are precise and add a level that compliments the lyrics in ways that introduce overall depth of the record overall. They are precise and the intensity of the guitars alongside the vocals helps dictate the overall feeling of the album.
It is the range within the vocals that also stands out within this work. In songs like Minnesota, WI, Vernon’s ability to go from a somewhat unexpected low sound to the normal higher pitch makes a stunning difference in the delivery, and his ability to transition between the two sounds works seamlessly within the emotion Bon Iver projects. While the deeper vocals accentuate this very blunt meaning, the higher vocals emphasize the vulnerability of the subjects in the tracks.
Timing and precision are some of this album’s greatest qualities. While in moments that feel similar to the dark and cold Bon Iver of before, Vernon and company construct these little moments that capture everything the listener needs to understand about the emotions that are being expressed, without weighing the listener down.
The perfect example of this comes in “Wash.” As the track begins with a very simple piano intro followed by Vernon’s vocals, it then picks up additional orchestral elements that fade in and out in a flash. Yet, as they seem to linger in the background, they provide for one of the most piercing moments in the album. The violins provide a brief, striking whirlwind that emotes all of the anxiety that builds up until Vernon sings with appropriate punctuation, “We finally cry.”
Even in moments that seem completely unexpected, Bon Iver is able to tap into the dreary themes that won over so many earlier. In the final track “Beth/Rest,” all the emotional sadness and intensity of any Bon Iver track are dominated by this 80s sound filled with vocal correction, saxophone and funky synth. However, they are all twisted brilliantly to work well within the arsenal of Bon Iver’s catalogue.
If there was one thing that could have potentially got in the way of Vernon and company with their sophomore release, it would have to be the immense hype and anticipation following the critically acclaimed debut. In using the tragic tones of previous works and in expanding the musical arsenal of Bon Iver, Vernon has not only met the benchmark set by his first, but also raised it to a whole new level.
Bon Iver will come to Raleigh July 29 to tour with local band The Rosebuds, at the Raleigh Amphitheater.