Bon Iver – Blood Bank EP
It seems like so long ago (last week) that Baked Beans bestowed upon Justin Vernon and pals the dubious honor of the top spot in our Best of 2008 list. Congrats and all, but it’s officially time to start getting down to business (looking at you Pres. Obama). And so, today Bon Iver releases their first effort since For Emma, Forever Ago–the return-to-the-woods Blood Bank EP. This is simply another beautiful album, start to finish. Title track “Blood Bank” tells the story of two people falling in love at a, what else, blood bank, and braving the cold together. Both “Beach Baby” and “Babys” provide a transition of sorts from Bon Iver’s past to what seems like a very bright future. The closer “Woods” is basically inexplicable. Typing out an explanation is very strange–Vernon belting an accapella, call-and-repeat gem, complete with heavy use of Autotuner. But it works, and you’re left feeling like you’ve experienced a new turn in the changing world of folk music. Perhaps that would be a good explanation for what Bon Iver has done thus far.
Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion
Animal Collective have for so long existed as an enigma to me, a band that I couldn’t really connect with and whose musical identities I found difficult to comprehend. And then last year I went back and sat down with their past couple releases Strawberry Jam and the Water Curses EP. Suddenly I could frame them within the context of past artists and somewhat understood what they were trying to accomplish. Animal Collective lives on making the simple song into something much bigger, much greater–but they lyrically never bring it into something that it’s not. Merriweather Post Pavilion has songs about buying houses (“My Girls”), fun in the summertime (“Summertime Clothes”), and the everyday routine of living (“Daily Routine”). See, I can’t even explain the songs without making it sound simple. Much like Sonic Youth, David Byrne, and others, Animal Collective is dedicated to tying their craft to modern art–and each new release is an anticipation of the ebb and flow of trends in modern art. Merriweather Post Pavilion is no different, and will surely go down as one of their best.