Monday, December 7, 2015

Rediscovered Albums - Bon Iver / Bon Iver

I was never really fond of Bon Iver.  I gave their first album a spin but it was sort of voiceless for me.  I did kinds of like "Blood Bank" but I chalked that up to the mood I was in.  So when their second album was considered a musical departure from the first I didn't even pay it much mind.  That seems to be the running thread for Rediscovered Albums.

Most of my music friends are unhappy with the state of music streaming.  We grew up on Lala, Mog and Rdio.  All had a major social element to their existence.   A way to discover music through your friends.  Now all of them are gone.  What we have now are pre-generated playlists based on your listening trends (hopefully).  My friends do not like that.  I kind of  do.  I tend to buck the trends.  My favorite Stone Roses album is Second Coming so that should tell you something.  Apple Music has a knack of packaging a bunch of songs I love with a couple gems that I do not know.  In the right setting these songs stick out.  Such was "Holocene" by Bon Iver.

The playlist was 'Inspired by Talk Talk'.  Not the "It's My Life" Talk Talk.  It is more the Laughing Stock Talk Talk.  I could totally see the relation.  That led me to stopping the playlist and going right to the album.  Listening to it through different ears I quickly realized that the whole album was an homage to the 80's.  Much in the way Paul's Boutique was an homage to the 70's.

It was't obvious at first.  Then listen after listen I could hear the influences.  Little by little.  80's metal.  80's synth pop.  80's country-folk.  80's adult contemporary.  There was a hint of 10,000 Maniacs.  "Hinnom, TX" has the aura of Supertramp.  "Minnesota, WI" has the feel of Peter Gabriel.

Some songs ramble like Bruce Hornsby, and some songs scream of Toto ("I'll Be Over You" is a sentimental favorite) "Beth/Rest" could have been played at my prom.

It has the feel of the Mid-West in the 80's.  Exactly where Justin Vernon was as a kid in the 80's.  I almost envision buying cassettes at the thrift shop like Napoleon Dynamite.

Justin Vernon has said the he brought in performers to change the voice of the band.  Maybe to make it something that he did not know how to do on his own. It you are able to accept it for what it is than you can appreciate what it accomplishes.  A new creation made out of something old. It fits just like an old pair of acid wash jeans.

Appreciating this album has forced me to go back to their debut.  Yes, I do like it now.  I have a new appreciation for the band musically.  This move was fearless.  Making Bon Iver was fearless. Taking a sound that was loved and transforming it into something new.  Stretching it in a direction that could be mocked, yet pulling it off as sincere.  Sometimes you have to go backward to go forward.

See you when the needle drops!




  1. Nice post. I've never listened to Bon Iver, but with my love of 80s, I'm gonna hafta take a listen to this album as my intro. Thx for sharing <3

    1. Knowing your musical tastes I would definitely recommend this one. Give it at least two listens! :)


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