‘Blood Bank’ merits repeat withdrawls

By Gus Bode

Bon Iver

‘Blood Bank EP’

Release Date: 1/20/2009

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Record label: Jagjaguwar Records

Website: www.boniver.org

Rating: B+

Rarely are EPs so anticipated. But when Bon Iver (Justin Vernon) announced at the end of 2008 he would be releasing a four-song record, a whole mess of kids got their tight jeans in a knot and Chuck Taylor’s tapping in expectation.

Vernon owned the indie world and television drama soundtrack landscape last year, with the wide release of his debut, ‘For Emma, Forever Ago.’ Recorded in a secluded cabin in the woods of Wisconsin, Vernon crafted a cold, heartbreaking masterpiece.

‘Blood Bank’ adopts many of the same qualities, which made its predecessor a success, but gives them the shiny gloss of an actual studio. Thankfully, recording away from Wisconsin’s outer regions has not stripped Vernon’s tracks of any of their minimalist charm.

The title track tells of a romantic introduction while giving blood, which ends up in a makeout session in a car. It is a change of pace to hear Vernon sing of a relationship before it is over, but the sadness still remains. His falsetto is still breaking as an electric guitar shimmers over a faint wall of feedback.

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The most notable change-up in sound comes in the EP’s closer, ‘Woods.’ Vernon puts the autotuner to use, with surprisingly strong results. He won’t be appearing on the next T-Pain jam or Kanye remix, but it is refreshing to hear the vocal filter used out of the context of those two artists’ music (as opposed to never hearing it again, that’d be fine as well). The device raises Vernon’s falsetto to ambitious and accentuates its lows, making it that much more endearing.

‘Blood Bank’ serves as a fine teaser for fans between the recordings of full-length albums. However, this is not the starting point for listeners who want to give Bon Iver a chance. Grab the debut and let it soundtrack the remaining dire winter months.

Luke McCormick can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 275 or [email protected]

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