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Bon Iver's daring debut

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Bon Iver
For Emma, Forever Ago
Self-released
Release Date: TBA

So this is the phoenix which has risen from the ashes of DeYarmond Edison's demise. Emma, Forever Ago plays as though it was excavated from the depths of front man Justin Vernon's emotional quarry. Although initially it was not intended for release, each song is as painstakingly crafted as the next. The raw, experimental approach (lo-fi percussion and clap-along resolves) to conventional bluegrass infused folk rock (jangly banjo and fiery acoustic progressions) is what makes these songs so groundbreaking. Bon Iver is raising the bar, slowly blurring the line drawn between experimental and conventional means of expression.

The album opener "Flume" spooks me. Reverberated acoustic guitar strings, ghostly arrangements and harmonics punctuate the melodious, hymn-like tune. There's a certain meditative presence imbued throughout the song that influences me to reexamine. Venon's full-bodied harmonies oscillate in a seiche-like manner over the seemingly minimal folk rock. Don't be fooled though. The vocal nuances, meticulously layered harmonies and the overall depth of melody is what is so unprecedented. The experimental, avant-garde facets provide a phantasmal, almost Grizzly Bear-esque ambience that is integral to this album.

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Bon Iver - "Skinny Love"