Tag Archive for 'Bon Iver'

April 2013

April 2013 from almostaghost on 8tracks Radio.

New music. This mix was tough actually, hard to find a good order for it. Strange songs in there, but also some super terrific ones. 2013 has had a lot of great new music!

- almostaghost

AlmostAGhost’s Top Albums Of 2012: #18. Kathleen Edwards – Voyageur

Voyageur

love is a stockpile of broken wills

Initially, I checked this album because Justin Vernon of Bon Iver produced it. Fortunately, I was immediately impressed by Edwards’ voice and songwriting, which is why I it is one of my favorite albums of the year.

The Bon Iver angle is one of the last things I think of when I listen to this. Sure, there are some definite Bon Iver aspects–the drum builds in “A Soft Place To Land,” unique touches of slide guitars or harmony, the overall gorgeousness. But Voyageur though is Edwards’ command, and her clever, emotional songs make for a stand-out record.

I guess her fame/rep is as a country singer, but I don’t hear much of that on Voyageur. Instead of telling stories like country music, she tells emotions and impressions. Because of that it feels much more modern, but also much more personal. No two songs sound alike here. From soft stuff like “House Full Of Empty Rooms,” to rockers like “Sidecars,” to haunting melodies like “For The Record,” Voyageur impresses.

Kathleen Edwards “House Full Of Empty Rooms”

Kathleen Edwards “Chameleon/Comedian”

- almostaghost

Life In Mixtape Form #74

Life In Mixtape Form #74 from almostaghost on 8tracks Radio.

Life rolls on, as do songs and days and mixtapes.

- almostaghost

Life In Mixtape Form #69

Life In Mixtape Form #69 from almostaghost on 8tracks Radio.

Back on track, on the 8-day schedule again, all caught up after my Iceland trip.

- almostaghost

Life In Mixtape Form #54

Life In Mixtape Form #54 from almostaghost on 8tracks.

Life rolls on, a mixtape of days, one after the other, after the other. And as I continue with this unending mix series, I mean that both literally and figuratively.

- almostaghost

Coachella 2012 – Weekend 2 recap

So now I’ve had a week of recovery and letting things settle post-Coachella, I thought I could finally feel up to solidifying some of my thoughts. I’ve seen a lot of “recaps” of the weekend(s), almost all of which could have been written beforehand–hot! so many diverse artists! so many bros in the rave tent!–so I’ll try to avoid those. (It was damned hot, though, that’s for sure.)

I told a friend before the weekend that I was looking forward to Coachella, because I can just zone out and listen to music. And that’s how the weekend plays for me. I’m not bothered by the crowds, I don’t socialize in the camps/hotels, I just float from stage to stage to stage to stage, doing and hearing what I want. It’s great.

Instead of recapping moment-by-moment everything I did, I wanted to mention a few each day.

FRIDAY:

After starting off with a few forgettable sets early on Friday (including my only two stops into the aforementioned rave Sahara tent), I headed out to the wide open Main stage to catch Hello Seahorse!, a dynamic and cool Mexican band.

Hello Seahorse!

Denise Gutiérrez, lead singer of Hello Seahorse!

Hello Seahorse! impressed greatly, their singer was engaging, and has a beautiful, operatic voice. I don’t make comparisons to Radiohead lightly, but Hello Seahorse! reminded me of their mix of musical dynamics, ethereal on top of rock/electronics. She only sings in Spanish, and barely said any words in English between songs, so for all I know, the lyrics are garbage. But still, I’m now a big fan. One underrated aspect of Coachella every year is their Latin American lineups, though this year I think Hello Seahorse! was their only one.

After a pretty cool set by EMA, I waited for Gary Clark Jr., who proceeded to blow the whole tent away. Sometimes a hot crowded tent needs some hot steamy blues, and that’s what we got. There is a lot of snobbiness to the Sahara rave tent sometimes, how the electro house DJs just play beats until the bass drops and everyone goes YEA! Gark Clark Jr., however, brings that same excitement with his guitar. The feeling when he drops into the riff after his hot solos had people raving. It was really fun, and shows — maybe the blues can be the next dubstep. Haha. Anyway, this was a breakthrough gig, and Clark should be a star soon (if not already). His sound reminds of The Black Keys, but with more soul mixed in (and Jimi Hendrix licks).

After watching Pulp–the explosion of “Common People” was amazing and one of the highlights of the weekend, I high-tailed it right over to the Outdoor Stage for, hell yes, Mazzy Star. The contrast between Jarvis Cocker, a real cool rock star, and Hope Sandoval could not have been more striking.

Hope Sandoval kindly requested the lights stay off, and she and the newly-reunited Mazzy Star played their seductive songs to near-darkness. It was perfect. The band, by the end, found their groove and it was quite a phenomenal performance. Perhaps a relatively-rowdy festival was not the ideal situation for Mazzy Star music (more on that later) but still, they sounded GREAT.

FULL LINEUP I SAW: Mea, Abe Vigoda, The Sheepdogs, Hello Seahorse!, EMA, Gary Clark Jr., GIRLS, Dawes, Pulp, Mazzy Star, M83, The Black Angels

IF I COULD DO IT OVER: I probably would go to The Black Keys or Explosions In The Sky instead of M83.

SATURDAY

Saturday was my epic day. The schedule was (almost too) killer. I sort of set it up to see all women, until the end when Bon Iver and Radiohead finished my day.

After an up-and-down afternoon of some failed sets (Dragonette), cool vibes (Keep Shelly In Athens), buzz rap (Azealia Banks), old farts (fIREHOSE & Buzzcocks), I headed out into the 105-degree Outdoor Stage to catch tUnE-yArDs. It was almost reckless to be out there like that, but the festival kept everyone well-misted and, well, when someone is as riveting a performer as tUnE-yArDs, you don’t think about it. She brought an interesting mix of intense and fun to her amazingly impressive live technique of loops and live samples and percussion. This was a really good set and I had a really good time. Her albums are good, but one must experience her live.

After tUnE-yArDs, I was getting into the heart of my lineup. Laura Marling and St. Vincent were back-to-back in one tent, meaning I’d have to miss Andrew Bird, Jeff Mangum, and The Shins. Not complaining! Marling played a beautiful set, but the noisy atmosphere seemed to get to her. She seemed to cut her set short (her guitar guy brought her a guitar for the last song, but she’d already walked off). She had more time, and hadn’t got to even her recent (amazing) singles (“Sophia”). Regardless, I do consider her one of the best songwriters going right now.

St. Vincent

St. Vincent on the rail on the edge of the crowd

St. Vincent had a post-sunset slot, and honed her set down to include nothing but high-intensity rock songs. Her energy was almost unbelievable. Her final song was sung while crowdsurfing, which only served to make the rowdy crowd rowdier. But, as usual, her stage diving wasn’t done in a reckless way, but in a more “this is badass” way. I dunno, it’s hard to explain. But Annie Clark’s stage presence and uber-coolness won everyone over. This was the set for me all weekend, and one I’ll always remember.

After that somewhat jawdropping performance, I wandered over to watch Feist for a bit, before Bon Iver and Radiohead closed things out. I did squeeze some Godspeed You! Black Emperor in between Bon Iver and Radiohead, which was crazy. The 30 min. of Godspeed I saw were dramatic, brilliant, menacing. I should have made more time for them.

FULL LINE-UP I SAW: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Keep Shelly In Athens, Dragonette, Azealia Banks, fIREHOSE, tUnE-yArDs, Buzzcocks, Laura Marling, St. Vincent, Feist, Bon Iver, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Radiohead

COOL STUFF I COULDN’T FIT IN: Miike Snow, SBTRKT, Jeff Mangum, Andrew Bird, Flying Lotus

IF I COULD DO IT OVER: leave Bon Iver a little earlier to see more Godspeed, skip Feist for Flying Lotus.

SUNDAY:

We all have heard about Sunday’s lineup, I’m sure: Hologram Tupac and Dr. Dre! I started out pretty early, taking it easy with some new bands like Gardens & Villa and Housse De Racket. First Aid Kit was next, who I’d discovered pre-Coachella and was really looking forward to. They sounded very nice, but some keyboard troubles seem to throw them off their game a bit. Also, like Laura Marling, a noisy festival is not necessarily the best vibe for their quiet clear folk sound.

First Aid Kit

First Aid Kit

Santigold was next, out on the main stage at 3:30pm in the DEAD of the sun. But again, her party vibes made you forget that. She played through her songs, with her cool band and it was quite a good time. She keeps growing into one of my favorites.

After this, I went to try to see Real Estate, and listened outside their tent. But it was PACKED, and I couldn’t get close. Around this time, I started thinking, maybe I should just go home. It was 105 degrees out, I’d seen a lot. It’s 4:30pm and I still have 7 hours left before Hologram Tupac. There was a couple of two hour blocks looming where I wasn’t overly interested in anyone playing. My mind was wandering. Not even physically, I felt fine, just mentally, I felt done. So, after Real Estate, I called it in and went home to watch Mad Men. 🙂

SUNDAY LINEUP I SAW: Tyler Uppercut, Gardens & Villa, Housse De Racket, Oberhofer, First Aid Kit, Santigold, Real Estate, Don Draper

IF I HAD STAYED LONGER THE LINEUP WOULD’VE INCLUDED: Thundercat, Gaslamp Killer, The Weeknd, Modeselektor, Dr. Dre/Tupac

REGRETS: OK so Thom Yorke came out and sang with Modeselektor at their half-filled tent. I like them, I would have been there. That’s what I missed by going home. 🙁 (He’s collaborated with them 3-4 times.)

- almostaghost

Coachella 2012 Saturdays

As I continue to go through the Coachella lineup, I get even more stoked. The Saturday lineup is particularly intense and exciting, and I cannot wait. I touched on it a little in looking at the Friday lineup, but Saturday is an even more British day! I’ll have an accent by the end of the day. There’s literally no way I’ll be able to see everyone I like on the Saturday, conflicts will abound. This mix is a little long, my 23 favorites from the day.

UK: Radiohead, Laura Marling, SBTRKT, Buzzcocks, Kasabian, We Were Promised Jetpacks, Squeeze*, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds*, Kaiser Chiefs*, Sub Focus*, Jacques Lu Cont*, The Big Pink*, The Vaccines*

Canada!: Feist, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Dragonette, Destroyer*, Zeds Dead*,

I’m particularly excited for the women artists this day: St. Vincent, Laura Marling, Feist, Azealia Banks, tUnE-YaRdS, Grace Potter, Keep Shelly In Athens, Dragonette

Reasons I’m even going to Coachella this year: Radiohead, Bon Iver

Artists everyone else is a little more exicted to see than I: Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Jeff Mangum, tUnE-YaRdS, Childish Gambino*

Old bands/Coachella reunions: Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Buzzcocks, fIREHOSE, Squeeze*

Artists I now dig who I just learned about from doing this: Azealia Banks, Gary Clark Jr., tUnE-YaRdS, fIREHOSE, We Were Promised Jetpacks

* not on this mix

Coachella 2012 Saturdays from almostaghost on 8tracks.

- almostaghost

2011 – Wrap-up and Mix

^ first, a mix. It’s not ALL songs from my top 20 albums either. I do like other things too. 🙂

And had a couple of requests for an extended list, so here it is. A few that narrowly missed the top-20 just came out, and if I’d had them longer and given them more of a chance, they could’ve climbed up. Artists, next time, release your albums before November, kthxbye!

1. Gillian Welch – The Harrow & The Harvest
2. The Antlers – Burst Apart
3. Radiohead – The King Of Limbs
4. The Kills – Blood Pressures
5. Kate Bush – 50 Words For Snow
6. The War On Drugs – Slave Ambient
7. Lia Ices – Grown Unknown
8. Bon Iver – Bon Iver, Bon Iver
9. The Black Keys – El Camino
10. Shabazz Palaces – Black Up
11. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
12. Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes
13. St. Vincent – Strange Mercy
14. Thurston Moore – Demolished Thoughts
15. Eleanor Friedberger – Last Summer
16. Cut Copy – Zonoscope
17. Disappears – Guider
18. Youth Lagoon – The Year Of Hibernation
19. Vetiver – The Errant Charm
20. Bjork – Biophilia
21. Death Cab For Cutie – Codes And Keys
22. Sophie Zelmani – Soul
23. Little Dragon – Ritual Union
24. Gudrid Handottir – Beyond The Grey
25. My Morning Jacket – Circuital
26. Radical Face – The Family Tree: The Roots
27. Iron & Wine – Kiss Each Other Clean
28. Tom Waits – Bad As Me
29. Feist – Metals
30. Laura Marling – A Creature I Don’t Know
31. Anna Ternheim – The Night Visitor
32. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Hysterical
33. M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
34. R.E.M. – Collapse Into Now
35. Rachel Goodrich – Rachel Goodrich
36. Bell X1 – Bloodless Coup
37. Dum Dum Girls – Only In Dreams
38. Wilco – The Whole Love
39. Wire – Red Barked Tree
40. Marketa Irglova – Anar
41. Marissa Nadler – Marissa Nadler
42. Jay-Z & Kanye West – Watch The Throne
43. Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks – Mirror Traffic
44. Ghostpoet – Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam
45. Release The Sunbird – Come Back To Us
46. CANT – Dreams Come True
47. Babette Hayward – You Might Be Somebody
48. The Roots – Undun
49. Wild Flag – Wild Flag
50. Paul Simon – So Beautiful Or So What
51. Thea Gilmore – John Wesley Harding
52. PJ Harvey – Let England Shake
53. Blood Orange – Coastal Grooves
54. The Black Belles – The Black Belles
55. Alela Diane – Alela Diane & Wild Divine
56. Snoop Dogg – Doggumentary
57. Washed Out – Within And Without
58. Ringo DeathStarr – Colour Trip
59. Pterodactyl Plains – In The Air
60. Florence + The Machine – Ceremonials

that’s enough; all 60 of these I do like! You can listen to my 20 favorites on my Spotify playlist. Add me on there!

Thanks for reading. Thanks for following along. Thanks for talking about music, making recommendations, and sharing stuff with me. On to 2012!

- almostaghost

AlmostAGhost’s Best Albums Of 2011 – #7. Lia Ices – Grown Unknown

Grown Unknown

the quiet singing in the language that we don't know

Much of what I just wrote about Bon Iver, Bon Iver in my last review also applies to Lie Ices’ Grown Unknown. I guess I love this style! Like Bon Iver, Ices has made a patient, rich album that is also mysterious and intriguing. I usually try not to make random comparisons, but this one is apt, as Justin Vernon sings back-up on one of the songs. So, I like to think of these two albums as companions and complements.

Unlike Bon Iver, Lia Ices is a bit more mystical and mythical in her lyrics. “Love Is Won” appears to be about discovering forever/love as a “tiny jewel in the tiger mouth,” and strriving to “pounce so I can tame the cat / so I can find the myth and let forever out.” “Daphne” tells the story of the nymph Daphne who turned into a tree instead of surrendering herself to Apollo. A particularly amazing song, “Daphne” begins delicately, like you would imagine a Lia Ices song to be: her quiet and close voice over guitar and violins. Midway through, the song takes a turn, becoming heavier and more confident. The music parallels the story.

The more I listen to Grown Unknown, the more I am impressed with Ices’ voice. It never falls into cliched fragility or breathlessness, always maintaining strength. This makes these songs all the more memorable, as she keeps charge of their oft-changing nature. “Ice Wine,” as only her vocals and a string quartet, could have been insufferable with the wrong voice, but Lia Ices keeps it together, and fascinating. “I hate to leave you like the eyelash that flew,” is one of the few lines that can be distinguished: it is one of her more mysterious and dark songs. Other tracks also borrow a lot from classical music arranging, but always to add richness and texture (“New Myth” especially).

There were quite a few of these individual, creative, avant-garde female pop singers this year, from Anna Calvi to PJ Harvey to Kate Bush to name a few. Each were stunning in their own way, and Lia Ices was one of my favorites. Grown Unknown is bursting with musical ideas — folky songs, string quartet movements, seductive vocals, orchestrated stories — yet it is her voice that ties all these ideas together so brilliantly.

Lia Ices “Daphne”

Lia Ices “Bag of Wind”

- almostaghost

AlmostAGhost’s Best Albums Of 2011 – #8. Bon Iver – Bon Iver, Bon Iver

Bon Iver - Bon Iver, Bon Iver

at once I knew I was not magnificent

The story behind Bon Iver’s first album, For Emma, Forever Ago was relatively famous. Justin Vernon withdrew into a cabin in the Wisconsin woods and recorded a sparse, isolated acoustic record. His second album, Bon Iver, Bon Iver (the actual title), is an artistic reaction to that.

The album cover is a great representation. A house sits there in the center, but instead of it alone, the view expands, revealing the world around it. The titles (and the title) of Bon Iver, Bon Iver are all meant to refer to places, albeit sometimes unreal ones (“Perth,” “Minnesota, WI,” “Michicant,” “Wash.,” “Calgary,” etc.). There’s more to the Bon Iver world now than just a lonesome cabin.

And musically, too, not just thematically. Bon Iver, Bon Iver feels more worldly and full, while maintaining Bon Iver’s trademark shimmer: seductive melodies, abstract lyrics, falsettos. “Perth” is a surprisingly complex recording, using a military drumbeat and guitars to bury all sorts of sounds that just barely leak out.

“Perth” leads into “Minnesota, WI” and “Holocene” and by now it’s clear–this is a gorgeous album. These songs have a patient flow to them, as they take their time and go through different sections and back and forth. There is very little intensity on Bon Iver, Bon Iver, as they leisurely flow where they are headed. “Holocene” for example does not build anywhere, it strolls. “Jagged vacance thick with ice / And I can see for miles miles miles,” Vernon sings, and as is his genius, I have no idea what “jagged vacance” means, but it FITS. This is not unusual in his lyrics. He has that ability to string words together that may not mean anything technically, but overall, they do/must. As he sings on “Wash.” “we’re sewing up through the latchet greens / I unpeel keenness, honey, bean for bean / Same white pillar tone as with the bone street / Sand is thrown.”

The album closes with “Beth/Rest,” which also clearly indicates that Bon Iver is making some of the bravest music around. He fully embraces a normally-maligned ’80s soft rock sound, and somehow turns it into a moody reflection closing this masterpiece of an album.

I first saw Bon Iver live a few years back when he was just becoming more known after his debut record, and I thought, “with his voice, guitar-playing, songwriting, this guy should be a superstar!” Bon Iver, Bon Iver does nothing to change that; if you like your music beautiful and rich and with feeling, nobody does it better than Justin Vernon.

Bon Iver “Beth/Rest”

Bon Iver “Wash.”

- almostaghost