For the past month or so, I’d been ignoring the blog-hype surrounding the self-released Forever Ago, For Emma. After all, blogs exist solely for hype, don’t they? I’m such a hypocrite, I know. Anyway, you may have heard that Justin Vernon (aka Bon Iver) recently signed to Jagjaguwar. Jagjaguwar is one of the few labels that I like to watch. They’re relatively small, at least compared to fellow indie-juggernauts Matador and Sub-Pop, but they tend to wield a similar, if not greater amount of influence than those two labels. Why? Simply put, they sign superior artists. Of the dozen or so Jagjaguwar releases I’ve heard this year, I can honestly say that I that I’ve liked every single one. Bon Iver is no exception. Considering the hyperbole that generally riddles blog press (I make no claims of innocence here), I’ve found that for Bon Iver, the bloggers are spot on. Forever Ago, For Emma is a modern folk near-masterpiece, filled with deeply intimate songs of the most skeletal sort. Justin Vernon’s ghostly falsetto resonates with melancholy and sincerity, something that’s sorely missed in these days of manufactured “indie” hits. If you’re tired of such artists, then please, turn your attention to Bon Iver. He deserves it.
[From Forever Ago, For Emma; self-release available now, out early 2008 on Jagjaguwar]
In case you didn’t already know (I didn’t until just a few moments ago), it was four years ago today that Elliott Smith passed away. Losing such a prominent young musician is always difficult, and the suddenness of his death only exacerbated the already tragic situation. It’s hard to overstate what a massive blow his death was to all of us, but Sweet Adeline has summed it up with all the brevity Smith would have wanted:
“elliott, you are still in are hearts, and sorely missed. xo”
[From XO, released 1998 on DreamWorks]
No, I’m not calling Beck an asshole; I’m referring to the song from his 1994 album, One Foot In The Grave. When I first listened to that album, about two years ago, I immediately pegged it as a straight folk album, and forgot about it until a few days ago. Now that I’ve spent some more time with it, I think it’s safe to say my original assumption was dead wrong. Sure, folk is it’s main influence, but there’s a hell of a lot more here than Beck attempting an impression of early Dylan. No, I’d say this is much closer to Blonde On Blonde-era Dylan, just a bit more drugged out. One Foot In The Grave is just 37 minutes long, but it feels like much more. It feels massive, like a sprawling exploration of a young artists abilities, examining folk-rock at it’s most all the disparate points he can find. While it would be hard to guess the artist here would go on to record Midnite Vultures, it’s clear the album is a distant relative of records like Mutations, Sea Change, and even Mellow Gold. At the very least, it’s an interesting excursion for a fan of Odelay-style Beck.
[From One Foot In The Grave, released 1994 on K Records]
Hardly Art is definitely my favorite new label. They’ve only signed two bands so far, but I’ve deemed both worthy for a (semi)permanent place on my ipod. Their newest signee, Le Loup, has particularly caught my attention. I heard one of their tracks about a month ago, but only recently had a chance to sample their debut LP. Think Sufjan Stevens’ upbeat instrumentation, Animal Collective’s oddball vocals, and Grizzly Bear’s codein-folk, and you have a pretty decent idea of what Le Loup sound like. Of course, an mp3’s worth a thousand words, so here ya go.
Le Loup – We Are Gods! We Are Wolves!.mp3
[From The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations’ Millennium General Assembly, out 9/11 on Hardly Art]
Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time with Scout Nibletts new album, This Fool Can Die Now. To say that it’s a step up from her previous works is a massive understatement. TFCDN is a sprawling work of artistic intent, practically bursting at he rim with ideas. With this album, Niblett has finally moved from emulating artists like Cat Power and PJ Harvey, to actually joining their ranks.
[From This Fool Can Die Now, out October 9th on Too Pure]