Enigmatic songwriter Justin Vernon, aka Bon Iver, is trying out a few new directions on his new four track EP ‘Blood Bank’. A touch of Grunge and a taste of lap steel guitar ring in a meatier sound.
Bon Iver’s recent album ‘For Emma, Forever’ was a runaway success in Ireland with its introspective songs recorded solo by Vernon in a cabin in the woods. Recorded while Vernon was trying to get over two split-ups, girlfriend and band, ‘For Emma’ is a very tentative and quiet affair.
‘Blood Bank’ on the other hand comes across more self-assured. The title song rocks in subdued Grunge fashion with its loud-quiet-loud changes. Listen to the full version on Bon Iver’s MySpace page to get a proper impression. Vernon’s grown up in the Northwest of the US, the spiritual home of Grunge, so that move is maybe not much of a surprise.
Neither is the lap steel guitar solo that kicks in after 1:38 minutes on ‘Beach Baby’, a mellow slice of Country Rock. ‘For Emma’ had its Country touches, not as overt as this, but nevertheless.
What really surprised me is the piano on ‘Babys’. Aggressive, insistent, repetitive - It’s like avantgarde composers Steve Reich or Philipp Glass are jamming with Bon Iver here. ‘Babys’ starts with 2 minutes of piano, then Bon Iver drop a one minute accappella break before the piano riff starts up again.
I like this new Bon Iver better. ‘For Emma, Forever’ is a great album, but there’s only so many songs you can play in the same way. Justin just had to extend the formula.
Only once does the experiment go wrong. ‘Woods’ starts off with Justin’s giving his voice the Kanye West treatment by running it through Autotune software. After a painful two minutes, ‘Woods’ builds up into some eerie harmonies like a Basque male choir at dawn. That alone could send shivers down your back if it weren’t for the gimmicky Autotune effects dragging the whole song down.
Hey, Vernon, can we get a new version of ‘Woods’ with neat vocals?
US Readers - Buy Bon Iver’s ‘Blood Bank’ On CD Or MP3 Here!
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UK And Ireland Readers - Buy Bon Iver’s New EP On CD Or Vinyl Here!
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