24 May, 2011

Bon Iver - Bon Iver, a most Geek Furious and Illegal Review

Bon Iver's latest dropped in my lap today, through magical means, and I can't help but write about it!  This won't be a thorough review since I am super lazy.  So here are my quick impressions of each song AS I LISTEN TO THEM.  A nice way to kick off this site:

1. Perth - I want to find an American Idol producer and punch him in his face! God muthafrakofadamn! Is it derivative of Bon Iver's originally release?  Only at first (which is a good thing, since I want more of "For Emma" gods dammit!) but then the thrash metal percussions kick in and I suddenly ordered Dominos.  I don't know why but I did.  It made me hungry.

2. Minnesota, WI - This thing is better than McDonalds french fries.  There is a very natural opening vocal that moves easily to falsetto and back out and then right back into it and so on.  At this point my ears are in musical nirvana.  I don't want to punch anyone.  I cancel the Dominos order.

3. Holocene - Right from the start of the opening guitar my pucker factor has increased.  It is like a sixth sense for genius.  I know I am about to get kicked in the ears with brilliance and this thing doesn't disappoint.  Oh lordy lordy lordy so few things live up to expectations but this album is already raping my negativity and I am in love with my victimizer.

4. Towers - Hey! It is Toad the Wet Sprocket! Or some country song? Oh nos! It is Bon Iver! The opening is surprisingly safe for this band and the whole of the song feels to me like Arcade Fire and Bon Iver collaborated for at least half of it.  It is a pretty song and I wouldn't be surprised if it becomes a radio hit.  It isn't moving me like the first three but that is like complaining that I got McDonalds fries instead of Dominos.  Come on.  Both are 5 star cuisines.

5. Michicant - Worst song on the album if you hate beauty.  If you love the pretty, then this is like the 5th song you have listened to on the album and you are crying because life sucks and everything disappoints us but Bon Iver didn't.  This baby is soothing and warm and it lubed up its fingers before penetrating deep into my soul, with a later half jingle bellzy thingy followed by subtle percussions.  I wouldn't be shocked if this one becomes a favorite live song.

6. Hinnom, TX - I am getting sick and tired of this album not having one bad song on it!  Who the hell do these clowns think they are?  I also don't like the tickling feeling I get in my manties (man panties,come on)  listening to the vocals.  What does that say 'bout me?!  I am glad CHUCK is going to have new Bon Iver to use during its 5th and final season, Fridays at 8/7c on NBC.  Sorry, I need time to get over the constant promotion of that show.  Back to this song, it is very soothing and purty and geniusy.  Dig it.

7. Wash. - Appropriately named.  I need to wash the sexy off me after this one, the best so far on the album.  The opening piano note for some reason reminded me of Starbuck playing the piano in that awesome season 4 sequence as the cylons realize she is playing their song.  Oh, spoiler warning.  Anyway, I so love this song I have to listen to it again.  I have this euphoric feeling of falling in love deep inside my freshly sated with McDonalds nuggets belly.  I think this is going to be my favorite song of the year.

8. Calgary - This is the single so I have already heard it 50 times.  Just like Canadians, when compared to the parts south of it, it just doesn't compare as well.  At least at this point in the writing of this review, or whatever you want to call it, it is the worst song on the album!  But that could be because I have heard it so many times already.  Shrug.

9. Lisbon, OH - There comes a moment on every new album where you get to the last few songs and figure that this is where the duds must be.  I remember feeling that way as I listened to Master of Puppets and then Orion slowly built up and I was floored.  Yeah, well that didn't happen this time.  This is just a build-up to the next track and a total waste of time to review.  Thanks!  Though, to be fair, I am sure there is a conceptual reason for it and blahblahblah but I am not here to review the psychology of genius.  I just love great songs.

10. Beth Rest - The apparent final song (at least for this review) is a fine close-out that made me think of the end of PURPLE RAIN (the movie... well, so... the song of the same title).  It has a very 80s movie music feel to it.  It would have fit right into a quiet moment in LETHAL WEAPON 2.


The first 7 (or 8) songs are wonderful and beautiful and brilliant and this and that and whatever.  Is it as great as the band's original release?  I don't know.  I think it is hard to top perfection.  I will need to listen to it a few hundred times to know for sure.  But if I were to compare it, I would say For Emma, Forever Ago was their Master of Puppets and that this one is their Ride the Lightning (thrash metal fans will understand).  Both are great.  One is more memorable to the masses.

So, on the initial listen, on a rating scale that goes from ZERO to ONE HUNDRED, where their first was a 100 for me, this one is:

96 out of 100
And now I go to listen to Wash. 500 times in a row.


  1. Magnus,

    First, congratulations on the launch of the site. May I say you picked a hell of a kickoff post as well.

    You got me salivating to listen to it as well. Hopefully, I will make it "magically appear" in my hands soon :). There is nothing like listening to new release for the first time. Your review got me to recall all the memories and the emotions I have felt listening to albums from my favorite artists for the very first time. The anticipation, the excitement (the pucker factor, lol!). The newness of it all.

    What is interesting to me is how much of the initial reaction holds up over the years. Tracks that immediately leave an impression as well as tracks that grow over time. Not to mention the beauty of rediscovering them over the years.

    You brought up Metallica so forgive me for indulging. I remember popping Justice into my friend's cassette deck in his car back in Sept 88 and feeling goosebumps as Blackened began. Or hearing the Black Album at the MSG listening party! The album played the Garden before the band did! I could go on..so I'll stop.

    Enjoy the album man. Let it be your OCD addiction. It doesn't matter. When you love something especially music it becomes yours. Regardless of what other people feel or say. The experience of listening to music you love is deeply personal. But I am sure about one thing it makes life all the better.

    BTW, totally get the Master vs. Ride analogy. Master doesn't have "Escape". :)


  2. I never got Hetfield's dislike for Escape. It is the precursor to the black album. Sure, it isn't as great as the other songs on the album but I find things about it I like.

    As for the MSG listening party, I didn't go but I do remember the event well.

    As for Bon Iver, I was nervous about this release since I expected to not be as impressed as I was. Sure, having low expectations can help elevate something from mediocre to enjoyable, but I doubt I will ever do anything but love this album. Granted, I never imagined they could come close to "For Emma" so I am an easy critic. I am sure some people will be upset that it is so derivative of the first one.

    I say, derive, baby! Derive!

  3. Funny, "Escape" was actually the first song I ever heard from the band. At the time it was clearly not representative of the sound of the band. I agree that the structure of the song matches that of the black album.

    In no way am I implying that Ride is an inferior album to Master. Track for track though Master is perfection. There isn't a weak track on the sucker. If forced to pick, I'd say Leper but it's weak in the sense that it's an A- in a room full of A's.

    As for being being derivative, haven't AC/DC been doing that for the last 35+ years and have been quite successful?

  4. There is no weak track on Master of Puppets.

    Lepper Messiah is an incredible song and you should be SET ON FIRE for slagging it!

    And yes, AC/DC (and Slayer for that matter) has made a career of the derivative. I don't mind it as long as the songs are great. In this case, Bon Iver has written an album that is... I guess you would call it a continuation of "For Emma" without borrowing from it. It feels very much like an album in the same headspace.

  5. Listening to the album right now. Great stuff. Standouts for me so far Perth, Towers and Wash.

    Please no immolation. Master is perfection and I happen to LOVE Leper. It was a Sophie's Choice moment. Which one of my perfect children would I have to sacrifice. I had no choice ;)

    BTW, your mother country has cornered the market on beautiful volcanic eruptions.


  6. I got to witness one of those eruptions when I was a kid. It is spectacular and scary.... at least if you are right next to the mountain (which I was).

    Ruhroh, posting under the wrong account! ;)

  7. Well, it doesn't get any more metal than that.

    Oh, and Happy Birthday to Star Wars (34) and Jedi (28). Today is the true day to celebrate.

  8. where can i get this? cant find it online. how did you get it?

  9. There you go, Vlad, I posted an article about it just for you.

    Anonymous, if that even is your name, you need to be super cool to have it early. Are you super cool?

  10. Halocene is quickly rising to the top for me.


  11. Dear Magnus,

    I am super cool; can I have the "how to get it early" secret?

    Warmest Regards,

  12. You may be cool but if you were super cool, you would already have it. :)

  13. Boooo. Well my cousin has it, I'll have to beg him.

  14. See, you are just one person away from super coolness!

  15. O.k. so I didn't get a chance to finally hear this until last week, and that was only when my little teenage cousin (different cousin than I mentioned before) posted the album stream on Facebook!! I think that is pretty much the definition of UNcool, but I will take what I can get haha. I only got to quickly skim a few of the songs when he first posted the link cause I was in a hurry, but now I am finally getting a chance to sit and fully listen to all of them for the first time. Here are my quick reactions:

    Perth - Yessss this album does kick off nicely.
    Minnesota, WI - Pretty good, this kinda reminds me of TV on the Radio, but a lot of Bon Iver's stuff reminds me of them.
    Holocene - Oh eff yessss I'm liking it ... "this album is already raping my negativity and I am in love with my victimizer." ... I am with you in that Stockholm Syndrome.
    Towers - It is poppy. But I don't mind ... I still think it's pretty good.
    Michicant - Yeah good good.
    Hinnom, TX - It seems to be all the low-singing songs where he's reminding me of TVOTR, because this one REALLY does from the first note he sings. This one is pretty o.k. Interestingly, it was all his highest-pitched singing on "For Emma" that reminded me of TVOTR.
    Wash - Ohhhh baby you're right this one had me from the first note. Yeeeeaaaah.
    Calgary - Yeah I'm with you on this one ... "it's just aiight for me, dog" as Randy Jackson would say. I'm not entirely sure why they picked this for the first single ... I'm betting that it's just cause it has a peppier beat.
    Lisbon, OH - Yeah I'm not a big fan of transition tracks like this.
    Beth Rest - Wait ... is this a Phil Collins song from the 80's? Maybe Peter Cetera? That's all I can think about as this song starts. WTF, saxophone too?? Wow they are REALLY going for an 80's theme here and I'm not sure it's a good one. Justin Vernon seems to love throwing in at least one song that throws everyone off and makes them say "WTF??" and this one is clearly it. I think I hear some of Kenny G's soprano sax in here too. And that guitar in the background ... yikes. If I was a teenager and hadn't lived through the 80's, I probably would be ignorant enough to not hate this so much.

    So yeah overall it seems pretty good but I'll need to listen to it a few times. One thing I'll say is that the last song on "For Emma" is probably my favorite song on the entire album ... and the last song on this album AIN'T no "Re: Stacks". That's a little disappointing.

  16. Having now listened to the album a few dozen upon a few dozen times, parts of it sit better with me now and parts do not. My score now is a bit lower than it was but not by too much. It is still a very good follow-up.

  17. Yeah so far it definitely doesn't even closely match up to "For Emma" for me but I always keep my hopes low on follow-up albums like this. The occurrences that a follow-up to a great album lives up to (or exceeds) that previous album are extremely rare. It seems like it's a nearly impossible thing to accomplish, even if I'm putting myself in the shoes of a genius songwriter. :)