Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Fitter, Happier, More Productive: Bon Iver, "Blood Bank"

Posted By on Tue, Jan 13, 2009 at 4:47 PM

(Tuesdays can be a trying day here in Club Land at the RFT. It's deadline day for the show/concert listings, and this fact hangs over my head just like all of those foreboding elementary school (and high school and college) homework assignments that I would inevitably put off to the last minute. But Tuesdays always go off without a hitch, and it's all because the right music always seems to present itself. Each week I'll talk about what induces the trance-like state I need to become one with the listings.)

This week I was fortunate enough to receive a high quality MP3 of the title track to Bon Iver's soon-to-be-released EP, Blood Bank

MP3: Bon Iver, "Blood Bank"

Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago was my favorite album of last year. Its solemn, wintry harmonies and quiet, windswept falsetto laments make it perfect cold weather music, much like Mark Kozelek or Belle and Sebastian. So I knew that the arrival of this MP3 link in my inbox was definitely going to be my big excitement for the week. (I don't get out much.)

Upon first listen "Blood Bank" doesn't seem like much of a departure for Justin Vernon (the guy most people know as Bon Iver). It's built on the familiar broken-down acoustic strum and barebones production style used on Ago. But whereas most of the material on that album was staunchly introspective, "Blood Bank" is more of a story-song. The premise is this: A couple is sitting in a parked car eating snacks and trying to get their blood sugar to recover after donating blood. They end up making out.

Even though its a song about blood, it's really quite romantic. As is his forte, Vernon word-paints a vivid image of a snowy day, a slushy parking lot and a toasty warm car. The atmospheric vocal intro recalls the melody of James' "Dream Thrum" (from its album Laid) and the minor-key harmonies set the mood for the entire song. Although he never really gets to a proper hook, Vernon alternates between describing the scene in the car during the verses and possibly what's going through his head on the choruses: "That secret that you know/That you don't know how to tell/It fucks with your honor/And it teases your head."

It's a perfect description of how it feels to be in the midst of a very intimate moment with someone and still be lost inside one's self or to be in a really perfect situation and still be scared to death. Blood Bank will be released on Jagjaguwar on January 20. For video from his Billiken Club show last year, go here.

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