In a revealing biography posted to Bon Iver’s official webpage proceeding the release of 22, A Million, Trever Hagen discussed an “inner storm, a mental sickness of anxiety” his friend and band frontman Justin Vernon experienced after the success of the band’s two previous seminal records. This uncertainty is central to the themes of the new album. Vernon is looking for something in the world, in himself, and it’s ambiguous whether he finds it or not.
22, A Million is another significant overhaul of Bon Iver’s sound towards a more abstract, elusive route. From the crazy song titles to the recurring glitchy electronics, the album is the most experimental to date. That said, the move isn’t unprecedented, as Vernon’s numerous other projects (Volcano Choir, collaborations with Kanye, etc.) add some context to the shift. Some songs also mirror previous releases; “715 - CR∑∑KS” calls back to “Woods” (from Blood Bank EP, 2009), and “8 (circle)” isn’t too far removed from “Calgary” (from 2011's Bon Iver, Bon Iver). Peter Gabriel, who has covered Bon Iver before (and vice versa), is an obvious influence throughout, especially on “33 “GOD””. The experimentation pays off, giving way to some of the band’s best work- “666 ʇ”, “8 (circle)” and “00000 Million”, though no song is without it's merits.
Vernon has always been a master of ambiguous, yet evocative lyrics. This trend is continued; for every relatively straightforward line like “It might be over soon”, there’s an abstract line like “A womb, an empty robe, enough.” Delving into the lyrics deeper, the album reveals often profound explorations of apprehension, nostalgia and spirituality. Some lines don’t quite work out (“I’d be happy as hell if you stayed for tea”), but these are forgivable slips given so many hit hard (“It harms me… I’ll let it in.”).
Overall, 22, A Million is another strong release from an exemplary creative force. Whether it exceeds the quality of previous releases is, of course, a matter of personal taste, but it puts in a strong case. There are boundless opportunities to meditate and get lost in its often bizarre but always beautiful soundscape, and for all its obscurity, it’s hard not to be moved in some way.
We got the opportunity to speak with Josh Pyke, one of the most influential and well-loved musicians in Australia, ahead of the release of his Best Of, B-Sides and Rarities album (out June 30) and national tour in July/August.
The best thing about "Meal Tickets" is that we're privy to a group of young, dumb, full-of-cum dreamers slowly acquiesce to being one of the millions who never got their big break; there's a raw poignancy to that, a unique quality which makes this 90 something minute documentary worth the price of a ticket.
Through the magic of Google Docs, Daniel Morey and Eemali McDonald were able to translate their post-viewing discussion of The Black Swan Theatre Company's The Eisteddfod into this review, for your enjoyment.
In Transformers: The Last Knight, the freak show has been toned down; there's precious little human bile forced down your throat this go around. Heck, there's even some attempts at respectability. Which is boring and nullifies the series' proudly nihilistic juvenile identity.
With a fervent belief that true commitment to bad-taste transforms it into something fashionable, fun and infectious, Kirin is a lot to take in.
Slowdive know how to play to their strengths, pulling from the best moments of their discography to present us with something that is at once familiar and refreshing.
I couldn’t think of anything more terrifying than playing a delicate set of acoustic jazzy music to room full of mostly black overcoat-clad, chin stroking, forty-something, ultra-discerning listeners. But for The Necks, that is the thesis for their completely improvised performances.
The Exes share a deep passion for vocal harmonies and heartbreakingly good songwriting. This killer combination has crystallised itself on their new album When We Fall. We caught up with the Exes ahead of their two gigs at Babushka and Fly By Night this weekend.
We caught up with Sydney singer-songwriter Montaigne to chat about making positive change, video games, life, death, and spirituality. Have a read, then do yourself a favour and purchase tickets for her performance at Capitol on the 29th of July.
From humble beginnings to a hefty, sold-out national tour, Winston Surfshirt has certainly transcended the mediocrities of the urban music scene and reminded us all what a little funk and R&B can do for the soul.