Album Remarks & Appraisals:
"After the closeness and austerity of For Emma, Vernon has given us a knotty record that resists easy interpretation but is no less warm or welcoming. You can feel it even as you don't completely understand it-- a testament to its careful construction and Vernon's belief in the power of music to convey deeper meaning. It's a rare thing for an album to have such a strong sense of what it wants to be. Bon Iver is about flow, from one scene and arrangement and song and memory and word into the next-- each distinct but connected-- all leading to "Beth/Rest". On the way there, the music moves like a river, every bend both unpredictable and inevitable as it carves sound and emotion out of silence." -Pitchfork
"Most startling about the new tracks is the band's refined ensemble sound. Ditching the acoustic solitude, Vernon has marshaled a considerable company of musicians (his summer tour is featuring an eight-piece band) to add texture to his familiar sounds of isolation, accenting his contemplation with an array of horns, strings, organs and soaring electric guitars. A first spin through the songs, carefully curated to create an emotional progression, reveals the poignant peaks and troughs — the bombastic horns of "Perth," the delicate howls of "Holocene," the electronic pulses of "Hinnom, TX" and the delicate piano-and-strings requiem of "Wash." But much like For Emma, the more you listen, the deeper and broader the songs become." -Time Magazine
Rolling Stone (p.82) - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "'Hinnom, TX' sets off brass and static bursts like distant fireworks; 'Minnesota, WI' blends what sounds like banjos with gnarly brass swells and R&B horns..."
Rolling Stone (p.70) - Ranked #21 in Rolling Stone's '50 Best Albums Of 2011' -- "Vernon's private world is a soft-rock heaven of the mind."
Spin (p.69) - "Once again, he cultivates an enchanted atmosphere, with gorgeous melodies, unique textures, and beautiful singing..."
Spin (p.49) - Ranked #14 in Spin's 'The Top 40 Albums Of 2011' -- "[I]magine a nice, cozy room full of ambitious friends boldly molding an inscrutable art-folk masterpiece."
Entertainment Weekly (p.73) - "[A]n emboldened Vernon achieves a beautiful fantasy all his own, backed by a full band and buoyed with horns and pedal steel." -- Grade: A-
Entertainment Weekly (p.100) - Ranked #4 in Entertainment Weekly's 'The Top 10 Albums Of 2011' -- "[H]is passion for gentle synth jams comes through so clearly, he makes Auto-Tune sound sincere."
Alternative Press (p.122) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[B]eautiful and heartrending. It's something far too busy and layered to be labeled as mere indie folk..."
Magnet (p.39) - Ranked #13 in Magnet's '20 Best Albums Of 2011' -- "It manages to be both sweeping and widescreen, yet intimate and inviting..."
CMJ - "This is the sound of a man awake in the world and reaching outward, and it'll make you want to wrap your arms around the entire human race."
Paste (magazine) - "It retains the beautiful melancholy of FOR EMMA, but in nearly every way, it's just more. More layered, more diverse, more interesting."
Clash (magazine) - "[W]hile 'Holocene' and 'Calgary', for example, retain the same spectral beauty of the first album, they're multi-dimensional compositions rather than songs."
Record Collector (magazine) (p.88) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[A] glorious celebration of -- and experimentation with -- sound....This is a luxurious record, with Vernon's simple songs filtered and engorged at every turn."
Uncut (magazine) (p.34) - Ranked #9 in Uncut's '50 Best Albums Of 2011' -- "BON IVER was ambitious, fanatically detailed, but still warm and poignant..."
Personnel: Justin Vernon, Carmen Camerieri, Mike Lewis , Colin Stetson.
Audio Mixers: Justin Vernon; Brian Joseph.
After making his debut with a collection of hushed, intimate folk songs recorded in a cabin, Bon Iver stretched his artistic legs by collaborating with Kanye West and experimenting with Auto-Tune on a 2009 EP. Released two years later, this sophomore album continues those changes by turning its back on the hushed sound of For Emma, Forever Ago. In its place are dense arrangements and orchestral instruments.
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Mahler: Symphony no 8 / Solti, Chicago Symphony, et al
Bon Iver: For Emma, Forever Ago
Jason Mraz: We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things. [Digipak]
Haydn: Sinfonia in D major, etc
Tommy Emmanuel: Little By Little
Mahler: Das Lied von der Erde; Songs of a Wayfarer, arr. for chamber ens. by Schoenberg / Guillory, Curtis, Stout
Ben Howard: Every Kingdom
Jason Mraz: Love Is a Four Letter Word [Digipak]
Donald Fagen: Sunken Condos [Digipak]