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Blood Bank Single
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But as word spread about "Emma" and Bon Iver played more and more live shows (even turning up on late night TV on rare ocassions) his fan base grew, and an increasing number of online reviews labeled "Emma" an emotional masterpiece.
If you're new to this artist, you should probably begin with "Emma" to get a sense of his unique style. Fans of that record, however, will find much to love on "Blood Bank," which contains several tunes written and/or recorded around the same time period. The title cut is especially strong, with sharp lyrics and strong guitar work.
The first three songs could easily be outtakes from "Emma," and all are easily the equal of anything found on that record. It's the final cut, "Woods" that is the wild card, and the one that is likely to sharply divide dedicated Bon Iver fans. Making use of the Auto-tune technology currently in vogue among hip-hop artists like L'il Wayne and Kanye West, Vernon electronically distorts his vocals to the point where he sounds almost machine-like.Read more ›
There is also experimentation. "Blood Bank," is recognizably written for a full band. "Beach Baby," uses a slide guitar solo. "Babys" uses piano, one note repeated for tension. He uses a similar technique with his voice and guitar, but the piano adds a new tone. But these are small experiments.
The big surprise comes with "Woods," when he uses vocoder. This song needed to go last, because I don't know what you could put after it. In the beginning the vocals are high in the mix, but as the song progresses the same repeated lines are sung in different ways and recorded differently, some with harmony, some distantly reverbed; it all creates a huge emotional space. My favorite part is when he strains the heights of his register. Amazing.
Often a fear for both artists and labels is the sophomore effort. Will the fans be as receptive? Does the artist have another glittering prize in their pocket? It's called the sophmore slump for a reason. Fortunately, Bon Iver's Blood Bath EP picks up where For Emma, Forever Ago left off and takes small paddles into a bigger sea.
Track by Track:
"Blood Bank" (4:45)
It sounds like a track that could have easily been on For Emma but with a bit more polish. Don't fear, is still simple and beautiful. It's just slightly cleaner in sound. Vernon also drags out his "Iiiiiiiiiiiiii...know it well" to the point of striking a Coldplay pose. Don't let it deter you, Vernon has a lovely voice and the softness of these lines underscore a great song.
"Beach Baby" (2:40)
This is a short song starting with just Vernon and his acoustic guitar. He quickly paints the picture of lost love's despair and even borders on sarcasm. The first line says it all with "When you're out, tell your lucky one...to know that you'll leave." After his brief acoustic reflection, the song closes with a haunting slide guitar.
"Babys" is broken into thirds. The first 1:25 of this song is repetitive piano chords that evoke mental imagery of a snowfall and sounds like a cross between a George Winston track and Animal Collective's "My Girls".Read more ›
The fascinating thing about Bon Iver is that he doesn't "write" songs as much as let songs write themselves. He starts by humming sounds that feel right and only later does he try to fit words to those sounds. ("Don't you lock when you're fleeing / I'd like not to hear keys / only hold til your coffee warms") The result is often mildly psychedelic and even that awful word "experimental," but it doesn't collapse under abstraction and randomness like most experimental music because it's grounded in the great progenitor of great music: feeling. It even magnifies or more directly channels feeling because it skips that whole part about trying to make sense.
Rather than putting music on paper through brute force, Bon Iver puts himself at the service of music. Rather than listening to Bon Iver, we're listening to sadness and longing themselves. To understand why this matters, you've got to close your eyes and press play.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fantastic album, although its really short i really do love all the songs. Even if you have never heard of Bon Iver I HIGHLY recommend it!!Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
To start, I will say that I am in the camp that just about anything Justin Vernon touches turns to gold. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Todd King
Justin Vernon and Bon Iver are one of the few bands of this day that can produce a great full album - which makes the vinyl experience worth every turn. Read morePublished 11 months ago by BlueBear
The record came in poor condition which the sticker in the middle flaking everywhere. Very disappointed in it. I still love the songs thoughPublished 12 months ago by fun!!