Friday, January 30, 2009

Jeff's Music Review: Bon Iver's Blood Bank EP

In the follow-up to his 2008 indie/folk hit, For Emma, Forever Ago, Bon Iver (aka: singer-songwriter Justin Vernon) recently released a four-song EP… Blood Bank.

Since Emma was one of my favorite albums of 2008 (“Skinny Love” ranked #4 on my top 40 songs post), let’s look at the new EP through Emma-colored goggles…

What’s changed:

  • Whereas Emma has a depressed overtone, Blood Bank is decidedly more hopeful. If you’ve listened to Emma, you know that Vernon’s breakup of a band, relationship and a bout of mononucleosis resulted in a heart-wrenching album. You may be surprised then to hear the title track, literally a narrative of two people finding love at a blood bank.
  • This is the first Bon Iver release to feature a full band.


  • What’s the same:
  • Despite the addition of accompaniment, it’s still a simple, nuts-and-bolts sound.
  • Blood Bank is still a wintry record: both in tone and appearance (there’s snow on the cover).

    Track Listing:
    1. Blood Bank
    2. Beach Baby
    3. Babys
    4. Woods

    Highlight: “Blood Bank”
    From the opening acoustic strums and hushed “oohs” to a slightly distorted finale, I really enjoyed this track. It’s my favorite song of the month.

    Worth a Listen: “Babys”
    “Babys” features a joyful chorus and Vernon musing on the promise of summer over a delicately tinkling piano.

    Lowlight: “Woods”
    The layered, a capella harmonies on “Woods” don’t do it for me. Though I can see samples of this meditative track being used in a movie soundtrack someday, I don’t anticipate racking up high play counts in iTunes.

    Verdict: B+
    I encourage all my loyal readers to check it out.
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