[Watch] Bon Iver – “Beth/Rest”

It’s been over a year since Bon Iver released his latest album Bon Iver, Bon Iver – but the video for the 80s-inspired album closer, “Beth/Rest”, is finally here. Justin Vernon directs and here’s what he had to say about the clip:

“[i]t’s kind of about two people who are truly meant for each other and what happens to their essence. How they connect is some other thing that we don’t know how to really talk about.”

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[Listen] James Blake and Bon Iver – “Fall Creek Boys Choir”

A few days ago James Blake and Bon Iver announced that they would collaborate on a track, which was pretty exciting news. And now it is finally here; “Fall Creek Boys Choir” is pretty much what you’d expect from the two, although I must admit it was slightly underwhelming. The song features Justin Vernon’s vocals while Blake takes care of the beat – but, is that a dog barking I hear somewhere on there? I don’t know, it just didn’t do it for me. Judge for yourselves.

[Mp3] James Blake and Bon Iver – “Fall Creek Boys Choir”

[Video] Bon Iver – “Holocene”

Watch Bon Iver’s new video for the gorgeous track, “Holocene”; it captures some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve seen in a while (I believe it was shot in Iceland), and the photography is absolutely stunning. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve listened to this song, it still gets me when Justin Vernon croons: “And at once I knew, I was not magnificent.” Watch below.

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Bon Iver – “Bon Iver”

Even before Bon Iver’s self-titled album was officially released (iTunes accidentally leaked it) it had already secured itself a top position among everyone’s “best of 2011” lists. And with good reason. This album is pretty extraordinary.

The much-anticipated sophomore album was not recorded in a secluded hunting cabin, as was the case with “For Emma, Forever Ago”. Instead, this time, he apparently chose to do so in a converted swimming pool attached to a veterinarian’s office. Can’t say Justin Vernon doesn’t have style.

“Bon Iver” has more range and is more elaborate and thoughtfully arranged than “For Emma, Forever Ago”, which in my opinion was a bit more intimate and personal. This time, he expanded his sound and experimented a bit more. While still retaining the elusive, melancholy sound from “For Emma”, the new album’s sound is just bigger. The opener track, “Perth” and “Calgary” are perfect examples of this. While still restrained, these songs just grow and grow, and transform themselves into something completely different, or at least into something you didn’t expect.

Listening to Bon Iver’s music is an experience in and of itself. The songs are deeply emotional and often devastating in their beauty. The lyrical meanings of the songs are wildly open for interpretation (in fact, it’s often extraordinarily difficult to understand them on a literal level), thus allowing us to make them our own in a thousand different ways, or else, find new meanings upon each listen. It’s damn near impossible to grow tired of Bon Iver.

After his brilliant, critically-acclaimed 2007 album, Justin Vernon had his work cut out for him, and yet he didn’t disappoint. Far from it. “Bon Iver” just further showcases his amazing talent and masterful vocal harmonies (that falsetto!). I don’t know if this is just his natural growth as an artist, or if his many collaborations (Volcano Choir, Gayngs, Kanye West) rubbed off on him – whatever it is, it’s a good thing. He didn’t lose his way while exploring new sounds, he just made the logical transition without missing a step, and still managed to keep his music’s soul intact.

Buy the album! Or, if you haven’t already, stream it via NPR.

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