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Old 01-27-2009, 01:34 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Blood Bank EP - Bon Iver

Bon Iver, Blood Bank EP

No one said an EP was easy. They have the trouble of always being cast within the shadow of whatever came before it - and in the light of possibility of what will come out of it. With the same familiar imagery of cold weather and private conversations, this time – Bon Iver (the project of singer-songwriter Justin Vernon) journeys further out of the bitter isolation of For Emma, Forever Ago and moves into different, more defined soundscapes. The title track from the EP, makes donating blood seem like the perfect setting for romantic intermissions, and was originally written to go on For Emma; it’s Vernon at his best. There is something more hopeful in his voice as “Beach Baby” coos lines like, ‘When you’re out tell your lucky one, To know that you’ll leave. Don’t you lock when you’re fleeing, I’d like not to hear keys.’ Bon Iver has reconciled delicately. The piano-riddled “Babys” has a distant quality but it seems sharper and more tuned than anything off For Emma. Thankfully, it ends before it builds too big. The final track of “The Woods” explores the varying tones and pitches of Vernon’s vocal range. In fact, the creepy layering and electric alteration comes close to Imogen Heap’s a capella “Hide and Seek” – but with more ambition and a prettier sound. It’s a track that shows off production, maybe because Blood Bank wasn’t recorded in a remote cabin in Wisconsin, which might also be why it seems oddly lacking. It's a good EP nonetheless, as it hints at something further from frozen despair. Unfortunately, it was that sadness that gave For Emma its depth and brilliance. 7/10
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Old 01-27-2009, 02:16 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Great review, and awesome appraisal. Frankly I agree.
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Old 01-28-2009, 01:46 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I see you've forgotten to include a release year for the EP (2009), otherwise it's a fine review.
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Old 01-29-2009, 01:30 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Nice review. This guy has got a lot of potential and I can't wait to hear what he does next.
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Old 03-01-2009, 08:39 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Here's my review if anyone's interested.

Bon Iver - Blood Bank
January 20th, 2009
Jagjaguwar
Score: 8.1

What’s that noise up the stairs, babe?
Is that Christmas morning creaks?


Seasons. Each one symbolizes messages extending beyond simple meteorology. Winter is an avalanche of the frigid, the desolate, and the imprisoned whereas summer is an agreeable breeze of good company and joie de vivre. Autumn is a somber meditation on the passage of time while spring ushers in the prospect of love and life. Judging by Blood Bank, Bon Iver’s temperament changes in accordance with these divisions too.

By now, most everyone is familiar with the tale culminating in For Emma, Forever Ago. Discouraged and disenfranchised, one man heads to a remote Wisconsin cabin in an attempt to restore his peace of mind. He fends for himself, chopping the very wood that keeps him warm, executing menial tasks to stay busy. With instruments in tow and the past year plastering the walls of his father’s northern retreat, he ponders the events that led him there. “Whatever could it be that has brought me to this loss?”

Quite some time has elapsed since that fateful excavation and today is no longer Vernon’s Qumran. Death on a sunny snow is placed on the back burner, so it melts. The summer thaw prevails and it has come to multiply. This represents the essence of ‘Babys’, an ebullient ode to the joys of procreation. A twinkling, minimalist piano progression constitutes the base, fluctuating ever so steadily until finally bubbling over. When it does, keys give way to Vernon’s incomparable voice which utters a fresh ethos in “my woman and I know what we’re for”. Positively Reichian, the track fulfills its mission statement by breathing new life into the Bon Iver aesthetic on both the lyrical and musical planes. They’ve started a fleet with no apologies.

The title track for its part does little more than encapsulate this novel paradigm. The honeyed hum of a guitar in the opening moments serves as a glimmer of hope, a step beyond the cold to embrace the warm. Listeners are unsure where they are being transported, yet one thing is certain: this will not be a cabin elegy. It would be redundant and detract from the mystique established on Bon Iver’s debut. Vernon’s troubles did not vanish into thin air upon For Emma’s completion but they were vanquished when he decided to immerse himself in “the unlocking and the lift away”. As he rattles off a cryptic narrative involving nametags, moons waning to crescent, and candy bars, a puzzling air of optimism surfaces. The protagonist is snowed in with a stranger who constitutes a welcome respite. Numbers such as ‘The Wolves (Act I and II)’ demonstrate how cold our climate can truly be. So she proceeds to rub our hands for warmth. For some, life’s greatest plight is being trapped in the past. From the confines of her car, she jokingly asks “ain’t this just like the present to be showing up like this?”. She is the blessing you need the hardships to fully understand, the Blood Bank to our For Emma, Forever Ago. Everything that happens is indeed from now on.

Oddly enough, the centerpiece of this refreshing EP is most reminiscent of the full-length. The much maligned auto-tune technique is front and center here as ‘Woods’ manages to recount the entire cabin journey in a paltry albeit striking four lines. A quivery Vernon croons “I’m up in the woods/I’m down on my mind/I’m building a still/To slow down the time”. With every refrain, the tone intensifies to bolster this cavernous declaration of the wayward. Voice manipulation is employed to distort the song’s core, playing directly into the nebulous blueprints of past work. The vocals swirl and undulate, vaguely capturing a man at his wits’ end, sitting on the kitchen floor wailing into a steel pot. Lyrically, ‘Woods’ seems to predate anything on For Emma. He hasn’t yet paused to examine his predicament, he’s downright lost. Vernon does realize the importance of this therapeutic trip though, despite its less than inviting premise. Time decelerates to a near halt, allowing Vernon to be thorough in his recovery process. This will be as painful as it is necessary.

Countless singer-songwriter albums document the artist who is down and out. Blood Bank chronicles this same individual weathering the storm and being helped to his feet afterward. It’s that secret that you know, that you don’t know how to tell.

And I said I know it well…
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Old 03-03-2009, 07:52 AM   #6 (permalink)
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iamnotacamera, instead of posting your review in someone else's review thread, you should make a new one! I suggest you cut that review and paste it into your own thread.
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Old 03-03-2009, 10:05 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Sorry, I didn't want to clutter the forum with two threads regarding the same album.
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Old 03-03-2009, 10:07 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by toretorden View Post
iamnotacamera, instead of posting your review in someone else's review thread, you should make a new one! I suggest you cut that review and paste it into your own thread.
We don't want two sepearte threads on the same thing. Completely fine putting the review here.
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Old 03-04-2009, 07:14 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Ah, okay .. After collecting the links to the review albums, I can't remember seeing it done before, so I assumed separate threads was the way to go. Sorry for misleading.
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Old 03-04-2009, 02:00 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I loved "For Emma" and these reviews are making me go out and get the rest of his stuff
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