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Bon Iver is the solo project of Justin Vernon and he makes dreamy, intimate music. Hugely critically acclaimed, Bon Iver is best known for songs such as Skinny Love and Re:Stacks, which have reached a wide audience due to being featured in TV soundtracks. For example Re: Stacks was used during a highly emotional scene of the TV show House when a character died.
Although some of Bon Iver's music is very well known, this particular CD is not at all, and I would say it is more one for "completists".
Blood Bank is an EP which was released by in 2009, following the very successful (and in my opinion brilliant) 2008 album For Emma, Forever Ago. I had been listening to For Emma a lot at that time and was really eager to get my hands on some new material from Bon Iver so I was really pleased to hear about the release of Blood Bank. However, I then saw that it would only have four songs! Obviously EPs are shorter than full length albums but even for an EP four songs seems quite short rations in my view. Still, quality over quantity... so was it any good?
=== The Songs ===
1. Blood Bank
2. Beach Baby
The song Blood Bank is my favourite of these four but I like all of them.
Blood Bank starts with a beautiful and brooding atmosphere with Justin singing "well I met you at the blood bank..." The lyrics are simple but poetic, with everything being described in a way which you can really picture, such as bags of blood stacked up and labelled in the blood bank, being stuck in the car on a snowy night. Justin Vernon has introduced this song during a concert as "a song about meeting someone because of the colour of their blood" but I have read loads of various theories from Bon Iver fans about what they think this song is really about. Although it is simple, there is a lot of room for interpretation there and some are reluctant to believe it really is just about a new encounter. Listen for yourself and see what you think. Regardless of what it is about, musically it is gorgeous.
Beach Baby is also a beautiful, subtle song which is quite simple and stripped back with a soft and comforting melody with guitar. It is a short song at just 2 minutes and 40 seconds. I like it nearly as much as Blood Bank.
The start of the song Babys is not as relaxing sounding as the same note is repeated many times in a somewhat urgent and menacing fashion. By Bon Iver standards it sounds quite frantic. When the vocals come, these are simple and quite repetitive with Justin singing "summer comes to multiply". I quite like the song but it is my least favourite as it is not as intricate as some of the better ones.
Woods has a slightly different vibe to the other songs as it is a bit repetitive and abstract sounding. It is quite hypnotic and I find it relaxing as it is mostly laid bad and chilled out.
Overall I would say if you like Bon Iver it is worth listening to this EP and I do still play it every now and again, but unless you are a massive fan it is probably enough to get the albums rather than this or just download the songs Blood Bank and Beach Baby rather than the whole EP.
The latest release from Bon Iver, released in 2009.
**Who are Bon Iver?**
Bon Iver are an indie band from America founded and fronted by Justin Vernon whose vocals can be heard in their songs, other members of the band are Sean Carey, Michael Noyce and Matthew McCaughan. Bon Iver started working together in 2006 and released their first album "For Emma, Forever Ago" in 2008 from which the most famous song is "Skinny Love".
Bon Iver sing folk type songs using a mixture of guitar, piano and vocals.
**So what about this new album?**
It's hard to say whether Blood Bank is an album. It contains just four songs;
1. Blood Bank
2. Beach Baby
Although each song is undoubtedly beautiful in it's own way. Vernon's voice in these songs is so gentle and almost haunting. These aren't songs that will get stuck in your head, as in they are not catchy, but they are definitely relaxing and for want of a better word-deep.
The best song, in my opinion, is Woods. It uses unusual vocals and it really is different to anything I have heard before. It almost has a techno feel to it whilst still being relaxing and soft. A hard experience to describe but take my word that it is definitely a song worth listening to.
I prefer this album, short as it is to the first album "For Emma, Forever Ago" I think that the songs on Blood Bank are much more enjoyable to listen to and more memorable.
I am not one for over analysing lyrics but they are fitting with the sounds of the songs in this case.
Unfortunately I do not think that this album nor any of the songs on it will receive the recognition that they deserve. A lot of work has gone into this pproduction and what Bon Iver has created is more a piece of art, a sensual experience that really has to be heard to be believed.
**How much is it?**
As it is shorter than your average album you also pay less. Amazon is selling it for around £4, and it is well wort it. Each song is a decent length approx 3-5 minutes each.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Blood Bank
2 Beach Baby