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Blood Bank [Vinyl] Single

4.4 out of 5 stars 50 customer reviews

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Vinyl, Single, January 20, 2009
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$14.24 & FREE Shipping on orders over $49. Details Only 16 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com in easy-to-open packaging. Gift-wrap available.

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Editorial Reviews

This four-song collection continues down the path forged by 2008's critically acclaimed "For Emma, Forever Ago". Bon Iver's snow-blanketed harmonies live across the seasons. As much as "Emma" is about the cold, "Blood Bank" is about the warmth that gets you through it. Both expansive and intimate, these songs explore the darker and lighter natures of the seasons and what they signify, and offer a glimpse into the natural energy and refined craftsmanship that characterize Justin Vernon's music.
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1
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4:45
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2
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2:40
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4:43
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Product Details

  • Vinyl (January 20, 2009)
  • Original Release Date: January 1, 2009
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Single
  • Label: Jagjaguwar
  • ASIN: B001MDIA5G
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,070 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Russell Evansen on January 21, 2009
Format: Audio CD
Bon Iver (essentially Justin Vernon and a couple of bandmates) burst out of the frozen Wisconsin north woods in 2007 with "For Emma, Forever Ago" - a record of quiet, contemplative and deeply felt songs triggered by the ending of several relationships, both personal and professional. Vernon took advantage of his months of isolation to craft a set of emotionally direct songs that sometimes employed rather oblique lyrics, and his not-for-everybody falsetto singing was said to be either enchanting (most critics) or off-putting (many music fans).

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.
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Format: Audio CD
This EP is a good sign for people who liked Bon Iver's first album. The tunes are soulful and share similar aspects to the LP: the falsetto voice layered multiple times, the trance-like repetition that builds to an emotional release, the cryptic lyrics.

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.
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Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago was one of 2008's biggest critical darlings. On that album, Mr. Vernon kept things at their absolute most basic. He recorded in solitude on what he described as "a very light set-up" with the intent of distributing the recordings as demos to be shopped to the labels. In the end, he created a timeless piece that was driven by simplicity and emotion.

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" (4:43)
"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".
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Format: MP3 Music
These four songs are excellent in their own ways, but in particular I would like to call your attention to "Beach Baby," which is, simply put, heartbreaking. I don't have a clue what the lyrics are saying, nor do I even think Bon Iver has figured it out, but the slide guitar tells me everything I need to know.

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.
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