I have to admit, I’m one of those dudes that probably works too much on everything, any thing, for that matter. So lately, with the SXSW horizon and real life and all that, feeling a little stressed, so it’s good to find something gentle, like this Jordan Klassen tune. There’s some Bon Iver in the vocal tones, breathy and fragile. The music around the voice builds a steadying land where Klassen can take the spotlight. His album Javelin will be released on February 19th via Nevado Music…could help you steal away the Winter.
Eau Claire, Wisconsin is a long ways a way from Austin, but not too far away in terms of mindset: here, we call our city the Live Music Capital of the world, and in the Eau Claire is the Music Capital of the North. Nestled in the Chippewa Valley and overlooking the the river, we were treated to three days in the woods with 22,000 of our newly formed friends celebrating music, arts, and the spirit of the river valley. At the center of it all was the man who dreamed up such a festival: Justin Vernon, who, alongside Aaron Dessner, brought all of us together in essentially his backyard to experience something greater.
Read on for our recap of the inaugural Eaux Claires Music and Arts Festival and see some pictures from the fest.
**Feature Photo Courtesy of Graham Tolbert
Sometimes the ATH crew ventures beyond the Live Music Capital and gets to experience rad festivals. Last summer, I had the pleasure of traveling to Barcelona for Primavera Sound, and while Spain may not be on the horizon for me this summer, Wisconsin is. In a few short weeks, we’ll be hitting the grounds of the first ever Eaux Claires festival, the love child project of Justin Vernon (Bon Iver/Volcano Choir) and Aaron Dessner (The National). While we’ll give you updates live from the festival so you can live vicariously through us and figure out which acts you need to see when they make their way through our neck of the woods, you can read on for the top five things we’re looking forward to about the inaugural festival.
It doesn’t mean that many of us wouldn’t jump at the chance to see Bon Iver play a set for an Austin City Limits taping, especially if we got to bring the camera. It doesn’t mean that we no longer like his early material that put him square in the blogosphere’s hype zone four or so years back. Seems like such a long time ago, before the palling around with Kanye and constant mocking at Hipster Runoff, doesn’t it.
A few thoughts on the whole affair and plenty of pics after the break…
A few years back S. Carey released All We Grow, which I felt was a highly underrated, or unnoticed, album. It got some press for his participation with Bon Iver, but having seen him live since then, I think he definitely deserves some recognition on his own. Perhaps he’ll achieve that goal when he releases his Hoyas EP via JagJaguwar in May. Based on this first listen, he’s still building his own little soundscapes, often based around small loops and intricate instrumental flourishes. I suppose this could fall under the electronica spectrum, but you know Carey’s probably writing all these little elements himself. Regardless, sounds pretty solid.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/01-Two-Angles-1.mp3]
Download:S. Carey – Two Angles
If someone were to tell me that a band with falsetto, auto tuned on occasion vocals, and folk music backing was one of the most soothing and beautiful sounding groups they had ever heard, I would probably scoff at them and laugh. When describing Bon Iver, it seems as though this band should not fundamentally sound as lush and gorgeous as it does, but I’m not complaining. After their first album, For Emma, Forever Ago, was released back in 2008, Justin Vernon and company have been gaining praise, as well as attention, and this sophomore effort certainly seals their place as giants of the Indie world.
From their last album, there is certainly not that much immediately different to the sound of Bon Iver. You have the faded and distant sounding drums, the swells and builds in sound, the delicate ferocity in Vernon’s falsetto voice. It’s all there, but now it sounds a touch more refined and practiced than that of the previous release, as though the band went the extra mile to make these tunes sound polished and pristine. On “Holocene,” the third track, the intricacy in the layers of sound is especially noticeable. Gentle guitar floats upon subtle waves of synthesizer, the ever-graceful vocals leading the song at a meander. Such is the kind of song where you just want to close your eyes and let the music hit you like a gentle breeze; it’s simply beautiful.
One of the more noticeable changes of this group is the distancing of lyrics and the focus on the sound of their wispy music. The instruments do not overpower the songwriting, but they share the space coming out of your speakers rather than the words riding above. This does make it a bit more difficult to discern exactly what words Vernon utters, which is only a drawback if you don’t have the luxury of looking them up in the album booklet. If anything, this vagueness makes me want to listen to this collection of dramatic songs more, in attempts to ascertain the meaning behind them.
The bottom line is that this album is simply magnificent. Whatever you want to call it, folk, drifting soft rock, it is beautiful in every song, in every note, and capable of pushing you emotionally. It is the perfect anthem for anything: driving, walking the dog, bedroom listening, and I can see this becoming a staple in a large number of listening catalogs. Rightly so.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/08-Calgary.mp3]
Download: Bon Iver – Calgary [MP3]
Kanye West’s favorite folk rocker is about to make his triumphant return, which surely has the Internet abuzz today with the first single from the upcoming self-titled album, out on June 21st via our friends over at JagJaguwar. At first listen, this sounds much like his work from his previous Bon Iver releases, then it gradually begins to build. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t going to be an all out rocker of a tune, but it’s definitely got a more upbeat feeling towards the end, crafted with some beautiful soaring melodies, much as Vernon is want to create. With songs like these, we can only assume that this record’s going to be something special.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/08-Calgary.mp3]
Download: Bon Iver – Calgary [MP3]
Apparently the hottest ticket in town belonged to The Tallest Man on Earth, which is both surprising and deserved. Of course the quiet atmosphere was surely ruined by the constant chatter that is ever present at Antones, but it didn’t stop the beautiful music offered from TME and the opening band S. Carey. Read more
We here at ATH hope that all of you had fun over the past 3 months soaking up the Vitamin D, getting wasted, and subsequently wreaking havoc across our city, but now it’s time to get back into the dreaded educational mentality. One of the truly great things about going to school is the first day. You’ll be meeting new people and making a good first impression is all it takes sometimes to get an excellent shot at a get-together with that certain someone you’re sure to see that day. Well, if music has taught me anything, musicians usually know how to dress to impress. I’m sorry to say it, but summer is over. Get some style for the new school year after the jump.
JagJaguwar just announced that they will be releasing the debut album from S. Carey titled All We Grow on August 24th. You might no Sean from his gig as one of the percussionists for Bon Iver, and you’ll recognize a similar sound coming from the first single “In The Dirt.” It has a bedroom quality that’s soft and gentle, warranting repeated listens as you relax on those warm summer evenings. So far, there’s not a thing not to like, so enjoy.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/03-In-The-Dirt.-1.mp3]
Download: S. Carey – In The Dirt [MP3]