Bon Iver's new album, 22, A Million, is frontrunner for album of the year for me. This lyric video for one of my favorite tracks, "8 (circle)," is all it needs to be. Provoking and confounding and grappling for something. Will he find it?
One of the best New Music Tuesday's in quite a while. Three albums I'd like my readers to check out.
Okkervil River: The Silver Gymnasium | One of my favorite lyric-centered bands playing.
Neko Case: The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You | One of my favorite voices and songwriters going. Her other albums are on sale too! Check out Fox Confessor Brings the Flood & Middle Cyclone ($5.99 each).
Volcano Choir: Repave | Creative. Imaginative.
I should mention, though many have had it for a couple of weeks, that Derek Webb's new album, I Was Wrong, I'm Sorry & I Love You is officially out today and available at Amazon. I've been enjoying it.
Iron & Wine: Ghost on Ghost | Whoa. A whole different sound. Interested in your feedback.
The Flaming Lips: The Terror | "Sounding almost post-apocalyptic in its scabrous, searching bleakness — Coyne himself describes the album as "disturbing"..." Yikes.
The Shouting Matches: Grownass Man | Includes Justin Vernon of Bon Iver playing mostly falsetto-less blues-rock. I hear Wilco, Black Keys, & other flavors here. This isn't your hipsters' Justin Vernon. And it may be impossible for this to have been recorded in a rural cabin. Check it out.
The Knife: Shaking the Habitual | One of my favorite, creepy, beat-centric bands. Get ready for quirk.
- Joe Thorn has a post up about what might be my favorite song of the year so far, "Precious Puritans" by Propaganda. Wow.
- Justin Vernon speaks of a Bon Iver (permanent?) hiatus. Boo.
- Sera Cahoone: Deer Creek Canyon
- Beth Orton: Sugaring Season (Over the Rhine-ish)
- Wickerbird: The Crow Mother (Intriguing! Out tomorrow)
BURNING UP MY iPOD
I watched The Grammys last night. Yeah, the entire thing. Didn't plan to or expect to. Honestly, I didn't want to. But somehow I did. I think it was the opening set with Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band and a fantastic number from Bruno Mars that kinda hooked me. Plus my wife was begging to see Jennifer Hudson's tribute to Whitney, and that was way into the night.
I enjoyed it, generally. Foo Fighters sounded annoyingly pitchy (& I like them), Chris Brown was mostly a bore, Nicki Minaj was trying to be creative and provocative, but ended up trying too hard & failing. Otherwise, I enjoyed the Best New Artist win by Bon Iver and the awkward "acceptance" speech (also winning Best Alt Music Album). The brief version of "Barton Hollow" by The Civil Wars was some of the best music played all night and they pulled in a couple of Grammys.
Adele was wonderful, and post-surgery victorious with a powerful performance and arms loaded with awards. Colplay + Rihanna was a match made in purgatory (as was Tony Bennett & Carrie Underwood), but Coldplay's anthemic "Paradise" was excellent and my kids loved it (buy the song for $0.59 if you don't want the entire Mylo Xyloto). Mumford & Sons went home empty-handed, but you don't have to: Sigh No More is only $3.99 today. The Beach Boys big tribute thingy with Levine & Foster the People? Meh.
There was a bunch of other stuff too, but I'm not doing a big recap. Just wanted to share a few thoughts on what they want us to believe is "music's biggest night." It was bigger and better than usual, but still, most the best stuff out there isn't on pop radio or at The Grammys. But it's still worth talking about.
Oh dear, this is good. Bon Iver plays "Perth" with The Roots. Gorgeous. For haters of the abuse of autotune (like me), this is how you take someone with a really good voice and use autotune to tweak the feel of a voice/song for the art of it, rather than to use it to make people think you are a better singer than you are. This is also how you take the already-awesome of a song and make it more awesome...play with The Roots. After watching, go buy Bon Iver, Bon Iver. I'm not sure how you can resist!
I love to find new, unique, or renewed sounds in new music: Bon Iver's bearded outdoorsman falsetto, Beirut's use of traditional instruments and foreign sounds, Antony & The Johnsons's trembling vocals, Animal Collective's layers and layers of electronic music, and Andrew Bird's lyrical torsion. Sometimes there are new sounds that just don't work for me, and other times they draw me in and stretch me in a new direction. Even when they don't work, I think it's good for us to be stretched. It keeps us from mere consumption and towards understanding it as art.
Let's be honest, some of you just love everything from U2 but don't realize you are stuck in a moment and can't get out of it. Time for something new. Here are two places to stretch.
2. tUnE-yArDs. I don't really know what to say about this, but the critics are crazy about it. The new album from tUnE-yArDs: W H O K I L L is only $5 right now. If listening to this doesn't stretch you a bit, you may have deeper issues.
New song from Bon Iver, "Calgary"...
...on June 21, Bon Iver will finally return when Jagjaguwar releases their self-titled sophomore album.
Vernon and brother Nate recorded and mixed the album over a three-year period at a former veterinarian's clinic in Wisconsin. Regular Vernon collaborators Sean Carey, Mike Noyce, and Matt McCaughan play, sing, and contributed production to the album. Volcano Choir members Jim Schoenecker and Tom Wincek helped out with processing, and Rob Moose, who has worked with the National and Antony and the Johnsons, helped arrange strings. The LP also features pedal steel player Greg Leisz and a horn section that includes Mike Lewis, C.J. Camerieri, and free-jazz monster Colin Stetson. The lush cover art, from Minnesota artist Gregory Euclide, is above.
02 Minnesota, WI
06 Hinnom, TX
09 Lisbon, OH
In the three years since Bon Iver released its critically beloved 2007 debut For Emma, Forever Ago, frontman Justin Vernon earned thousands of new fans – including Kanye West, who invited the sensitive singer-songwriter to appear on six songs of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
But when Vernon sat down to work on Bon Iver’s follow-up album, he discovered a problem. “Somewhere along the line, I forgot how to write songs,” he tells Rolling Stone. “I couldn’t do it anymore with a guitar. It wasn’t happening.”
So Vernon – who wrote For Emma while holed up by himself in rural Wisconsin – changed gears, working with studio musicians, trying to build sounds rather than songs. “I brought in a lot of people to change my voice — not my singing voice, but my role as the author of this band, this project,” says Vernon, who hired well-known players like sax man Colin Stetson, who plays with Tom Waits and Arcade Fire, and pedal-steel guitarist Greg Leisz, who recorded with Bill Frissell and Linda Rondstadt. “I built the record myself, but I allowed those people to come in and change the scene.” The album, which is still untitled, is scheduled to come out sometime in June.
If you don't have Bon Iver's two albums, For Emma, Forever Ago (only $6.99) & Blood Bank EP, it's time to catch up and get ready for June. Also check out his stuff with Volcano Choir and Gayngs (though neither compare to the greatness of Bon Iver. Now, when does Beirut's new album come out?