I’ve been waiting for an eternity for some new Bon Iver, and finally, we get our first taste of new material with the release of the first single off the band’s doubly self-titled sophomore LP–Bon Iver, Bon Iver (due out June 21 via Jagjaguwar).
As usual, the lyrics are cryptic as all hell, but Justin Vernon’s vocals weave themselves into a harmonic tapestry that I want to envelop myself in for days. It’s still the barebones Bon Iver we’ve all come to love, but this time the soundscape is fuller, more vast, and eclectic. The addition of synthesizers and electronic elements embedded into the the backdrop create a heavier, rounded experience.
Sure it’s supposed to be spring, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still have a “good winter,” right? I mean, the weather isn’t exactly warm and sunny, and my hands are effectively ice blocks as I type this.
Plus it doesn’t hurt that it’s about a Canadian city, either. Canadian pride and wintery wonderland both check off!
Bon Iver, warm me up.
*Tour dates after the jump! (more…)
I’ll just come right out and say it now: the Bon Iver comparisons are kind of inevitable with James Vincent McMorrow. Some have already dubbed him Dublin’s answer to the wispy-voiced Justin Vernon.
From the opening notes of “If I Had A Boat,” the familiar sounds are there. And I’m not going to lie…Justin Vernon was the first thing that came to my mind. Regardless, it is a beautiful track that had me right from the beginning.
Yes, if you were to simply judge McMorrow based on this song and nothing more, the echos of Justin Vernon are quite evident–glaring even. But if you were to delve further and really listen to his music–like his recently released debut, Early In the Morning–you’d find that he is a different artist with a little bit more of a folk lean.
Sure, they both have impossibly luscious and husky voices and have a penchant for layers of falsetto harmonies–but the similarities pretty much end there. His voice is also reminiscent of James Morrison’s at times (“We Don’t Eat”), if we were to be so keen on comparisons.
[MP3]: James Vincent McMorrow – “We Don’t Eat” (right-click, save as)
After going through a bit more of his catalogue, I find the main difference between the two artists to be in the instrumentation. Both sing from emotional depths, but Bon Iver creates more sparse, yet sweeping, atmospheric experiences, while McMorrow relies more on the devices of the singer-songwriter.
Still, if you like Bon Iver, it’s a pretty good bet you’ll dig James Vincent McMorrow.
WHO: Lia Ices
WHERE: Brooklyn, NY
CONNECT THE DOTS: Friends w/ Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon (who sings on “Daphne”); currently touring with The Besnard Lakes, The Cave Singers
CLAIM TO FAME: When Jagjaguwar snatched her up last year
YOU WILL LIKE HER IF YOU LIKE: Going for walks in forests, daydreaming, cloud-watching, fairies
FOR FANS OF: Bon Iver, Bat for Lashes, Glasser, Lykke Li, Cat Power
This one’s been sitting around in my drafted posts for a while, and with her album, Grown Unknown, coming out Jan. 25, I figured now would be as good a time as any to pull it off the shelve. Truth be told, I had never even heard of Lia Ices until it had been announced that she had been courted and wooed by consistently spot-on major indie label, Jagjaguwar in August 2010. She has already has one record under her belt: 2008′s Necima (out on Rare Book Room Records), which you can hear in its entirety over here.
Labels (or at least indie labels) are finally starting to catch on by offering up free “samplers”–legal downloads from artists–so that people are able to get a little taste before taking the plunge and buying the album (if anyone still does that anymore). Jagjaguwar has done a good job of this, by releasing lead single “Grown Unknown” for free legal download, and now, “Daphne” (which features Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon).
[MP3]: Lia Ices – “Grown Unknown” (right-click, save as)
Hand-claps and reverb-drenched vocals in “Grown Unknown” create a sea and cave-like atmosphere, like a siren singing her song, beckoning the sailors.
[MP3]: Lia Ices – “Daphne” (feat. Bon Iver) (right-click, save as)
“Daphne,” on the other hand, sees her as a woodland fairy, nimbly peeking from behind the moss-covered trunks of towering thousand-year-old trees. With the urgent shift around the 2:40 minute mark, Lia Ices and Justin Vernon’s (Bon Iver) vocals blend together seamlessly, intertwining, accompanied by piano and electric guitar; the turnaround is stunning. I’m an incredibly visual person, so these are just the images that flutter through my mind as I listen to her music.
Ultimately, it’s her voice that draws the you in. Lia Ices has a voice that is a quivering and lilting, timid wisp, with a certain mystic transparency about it. Her vocals flutter constantly, fading in and out, like the wavering remnants of something that was once there and now is no longer–like a hand reaching out to grab on to something that has already gone. Haunting and ethereal, it begs a closer listen and invites curiosity. And even after the song has ended, its ghost still lingers in the crevices of your mind, unseen and unheard, yet still present.
Too pretentious/convoluted/ambiguous a description? Oh well. My schedule is lacking in creative writing courses this semester, so you’ll just have to bear with me. Nevertheless, Lia Ices is one to watch in 2011, so keep an eye (and ear) out for her!
Also, if you like what you hear, show your appreciation by buying the record and supporting the musicians whose songs you listen to on repeat so that they can in turn make more music for you to love. I mean, that’s the least you can do, really.
[WATCH]: Lia Ices – “Half Life” (from Necima)
**Damn. Brooklyn really is a breeding ground for artistic talent (Sharon Van Etten, Oh Land, and Holly Miranda, just to name a few). New York, I can hear you calling my name. I’ll be there. I’ll see you in a year or two.
Every Tuesday I will be featuring an album or two that are being released that very day. These are my “must listen to” recommendations! See my picks this week + FULL ALBUM STREAM after the jump!