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 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Bon Iver
Blood Bank
Jagjaguwar

Rating: 7.3/10 ?


March 4, 2009
At just nine songs in length, Bon Iver's For Emma Forever Ago, widely lauded as one of the strongest releases of 2008, was barely an album in its own right. As such, it would seem a logical conclusion to release a few more songs to keep the Bon Iver bonfire stoked during mastermind Justin Vernon's interim hibernation, which will undoubtedly produce another modest classic of an album. The leap from self-released word-of-mouth affair to conventionally distributed slow-burning success (and subsequent endless touring) in the wake of For Emma made Vernon into an unlikely star of sorts; a literal north woods recluse quietly composing one of those rare and poignant releases that indie-rock circles and mainstream music fans alike can get behind and root for.

For Emma Forever Ago was also a debut, and so many follow-ups to fragile and unassuming debuts like Vernon's either loudly disappoint or quietly slip between the cracks and disappear into that pile of pensive singer songwriters we've all forgotten about over the years. For many reasons, the strategy to keep Bon Iver fresh in our collective minds while Vernon steals away to conjure up another full length is a sound one, even though Blood Bank, the vehicle for the plant, seems more like a morning-after-crash, an afterthought, rather than a great idea. For the first two songs, that is.

Being only four songs, Blood Bank is nearly an accusation, that we've heard all the tricks in Vernon's bag. The continuity with its precursor makes it tough to gage as to whether the EP is merely a wholesaling of the leftovers from For Emma or a statement of purpose (This is what Bon Iver sounds like. This is what Bon Iver sounds like). But, after two more-of-the-same acoustic dirges--the opening title track and the following "Beach Baby" are admittedly lovely in their own right, but hardly revelatory--something happens in the final two little ditties: we hear something new.

"Babys" moves with a spry pulse of keys and layered voice tracks, an atmospheric uplift of abstract vocal pop that compliments everything that came before it, but somehow pushes in a new direction. The refrain of "Summer comes to multiply" buoys "Babys," carrying a badge of hope with its ambient tone of not-quite-joy. Vernon is still Bon Iver, but here he certainly isn't as crushed sounding as on For Emma.

After the moment of great reveal at the 3/4 mark, the closer "Woods" is even more arresting; a two-minute a cappella cut comprised entirely of auto-tuned vocals, it is the albums most divisive moment. But it's also the moment that hints the most at the future, toward the notion that the next Bon Iver LP will be a moment, a miniature event in the music world, if you will.

Although it teases at the contrary for its first half, the idea that we really have no idea quite what to expect from the future of Bon Iver is the greatest gift this four-song breath gives us. Let's face it, if there is anything great but set-in-their-ways artists or groups have taught us, it is that predictability is a terrible attribute. Granted, we are likely only in the warm-up paces of Vernon's tenure as Bon Iver, but he already carries the weight of indie establishment. Blood Bank certainly must be considered a success, if for nothing else then because the mystery as to how the forthcoming album will sound is certainly going to keep the faithful waiting, breath baited.

Reviewed by Cory Tendering
No biographical information is currently available.

See other reviews by Cory Tendering

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