justin vernon

Straight Talk: Breaking Down January 2019’s Spotify Playlist

This month’s playlist is about energy.

2018 was a tough year for me; I’ve been eager for 2019 to come around. I’m hoping to start the year with some new energy. And apparently that was no secret. I heard from some people that this playlist immediately sounded different.

It’s about balance.

Energy with calmness. Light with dark. Male with female. Lost with found. Remembering with forgetting. Equality with inequality. Love with hate. New with old. Hope with fear. Strong with delicate. You can listen for the metaphorical meanings and make your own interpretations. But this was also about the most literal forms of balance. Hip hop, Baroque guitar. New finds, old favorites. New Justin Vernon, old Justin Vernon. (Really though, Justin Vernon appears 5 times.)

It’s about a prayer.

Because I heard somebody say that the best prayer sounds like ‘Godspeed’ by Frank Ocean. And the world today gives a lot to pray for. Many of those emotions can be heard in these songs. This prayer’s for you. For me. For all of us.

Here’s to 2019.

Note: if the playlist displayed is no longer of the current month, find the appropriate month at the link below.

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Krrum – Morphine


Krrum hails from England’s Dark Peak regino, which is a fitting place of origin for the broody, mysterious singer-producer. The 20-year-old musician cites Justin Vernon and Jai Paul as influences, and there’s definitely a murky indie R&B quality to “Morphine,” his intoxicating debut single.

Over a backbone of warm synths and clean guitar, Krrum shines both technically behind the booth and inside of it. His soulful, raspy voice is a fantastic tool, as he pitch bends and distorts it to give “Morphine” even more drama and darkness.

The song and Krrum’s overall style are reminiscent of fellow U.K. boundary pushers like Royce Wood Junior or Jamie Woon, and there’s a pleasing confidence to the newcomer’s soulful sound.

With a debut EP dropping in 2016, expect Krrum to be among the next crop of English artists overtaking the blog world.

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Bon Iver – Heavenly Father [Audio Stream + Lyrics]

Everybody knows that Garden State featured one of the best soundtracks ever compiled. When I think back on my senior year in high school (yep, I’m that old), every single one of those songs comes to mind. I went to a wedding this past weekend that ended with the bride and groom walking down the aisle to a live string version of “Such Great Heights” and as I sat there in excitement for the bride and groom and marveling at the beauty of the music, I was also immediately taken back to my Garden State days.

What does this have to do with anything? One decade after Garden State, Zack Braff is back with a new movie called Wish I Was Here that is rumored to have a soundtrack that may be on the same level as Garden State. The Shins released a track called “So Now What” two weeks ago that was made exclusively for the film. Now Bon Iver has released their creation for the film, titled “Heavenly Father.” Others to be featured on the soundtrack include Cat Power and Coldplay.

“Heavenly Father” features Bon Iver’s frontman Justin Vernon using electronic tools to loop his vocals into a choral backdrop that lie beneath a powerful presentation of lyrics that metaphorically compare finding love to finding faith in a “heavenly father.” It’s another stunning performance by Bon Iver, and it’s a welcome reminder of the simple beauty of his complex writing.

Hit the jump for the full lyrics.


Stream Heavenly Father on NPR

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Bon Iver Live at AIR Studios

Justin Vernon of Bon Iver

If you ever doubted the natural talent of Justin Vernon, or all of Bon Iver for that matter, stop now and watch this video. Justin Vernon and Bon Iver’s Sean Carey got in a studio with little more than two grand pianos and some microphones to create this beautiful version of some of their songs from the latest album, some from the Blood Bank EP, and another take of the stunning cover of Bonnie Raitt’s I Can’t Make You Love Me. My heart melts at the moment when Justin starts belting out the chorus of I Can’t Make You Love Me.

Being that I’m a huge sucker for pianos, I am absolutely love-stricken at the sight of this video. Thank you, Justin and Sean. And a thank you to 4AD and Jagjaguwar for putting this together.

Also a thank you to Disco Naivete for making this downloadable. Download a .zip file of this recording here.

And if you knew some of those people who watched The Grammys this year and wondered afterwards who ‘Bonny Bear’ was, show them this video. Guarantee you they’ll never ask that silly question again.

Arjun’s Edit: Also, show them this video, and they’ll be scared of Bonny Bear forever.


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[Video] Justin Vernon and The Roots – Perth

More live Bon Iver? Yes.

This absolutely blew my mind.

Justin Vernon of Bon Iver recently dropped by Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to perform ?uestlove’s favorite Bon Iver “jawn” with the frontman.

The version they came up with is a strong diversion from the original opener to Bon Iver, Bon Iver and boy, does it sound beautiful. It’s much longer than the original, which allows for a lot of improvisation both on Vernon’s part and on the part of the “most legendary band in late night television.”

Vernon’s voice sounds as good as it’s ever sounded, and I think their use of autotune adds a really interesting element to the song–there was some of it in the original, but nowhere near as much as there is in this version.

Anyone else think it would be downright criminal to not hop in the studio and get an official recording of this? It’s too beautiful not to record.

Really, really love the way Vernon and The Roots compliment each other here–of course Quest is unbelievable and his drums always add another level to anything he touches, but the whole group here really meshes in an awesome way, allowing for a lot of creativity. Vernon seems to be genuinely stimulated by those around him here. Really awesome.


Dream Big

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Bon Iver on SNL

Justin D.E. Vernon and co. made an appearance on Saturday Night Live this past weekend, playing their songs “Holocene” and “Beth/Rest” for the crowd assembled in New York City. A great performance, as can be expected by this crew–if you ever find yourself lucky enough to have the opportunity to see Bon Iver live, you’d be foolish not to take that offer. I don’t know if it’s the horns or Vernon’s angelic pipes that do it, but boy do they do it.

They were asked to perform with an unnamed other band at the Grammy’s and refused, saying that only those with “guitars on their backs” should decide who they want to play with. Kind of hoighty-toighty and douche-like, but if anyone can say something like that and get away with it it’s them. I guess.

PS— A little word to the wise: don’t listen to Bon Iver with someone you have romantic feelings for.  If it’s a fleeting love, the effects of Justin Vernon’s voice are soul-crippling after the fact. Truuuust that.


Dream Big

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Bon Iver on The Colbert Report

There is no doubt that Bon Iver is an extremely powerful, moving artist: I would not hesitate to say that he makes some of the most moving music I have ever listened to.

He will be at Chicago’s Chicago Theater on July 24th and I am lucky enough to have third row tickets. I have never seen him live before but I have not been this excited to see a live act in quite some time.

I was out tonight and got tweeted at, and while I checked twitter on my phone I saw Bon Iver’s tweet about performing “Calgary” on the Colbert Report.

I called my lil sis and told her to record it, and I have to say that it was far better live than I had even expected it.

This is a video of Bon Iver performing “Skinny Love” off of For Emma, Forever Ago. A truly incredible performance, Justin Vernon’s voice is as unique, amazing, and atypical as Neil Young’s.

His guitar is nuts too, really cool. Looks like a steel frame but sounds acoustic.




Bon Iver || Facebook || Twitter

D Prep || Twitter

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Bon Iver Live on Jimmy Fallon

Justin Vernon of Bon Iver performed live on Jimmy Fallon last night. He sang a beautiful rendition of Bonnie Raitt’s classic “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” mixing in a bit of “A Song For You” by Leon Russell via Donny Hathaway. His falsetto is absolutely breathtaking, as is his general demeanor, if you ask me. But all these things aside, what I loved the most about this was seeing local musical talent Phil Cook on the piano. That’s Durham, North Carolina right there! Phil is a member of local band Megafaun and is Justin’s best friend and former bandmate in a group that was called DeYarmond Edison. Beautiful instrumentation by Phil as well.

I have listened to the upcoming album by Bon Iver, self-titled Bon Iver, which will be released on June 21st, and let me just tell you that it is one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard. 100 Word Review forthcoming.

Hit the jump to see the video.

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Bon Iver Announces New Album

If you ask me to list an album that I can put on at any moment in time and expect to gracefully slip into another world, one of my answers would, without a doubt, be Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago. Named by many music critics and bloggers as the most breakthrough album of the past couple years, For Emma, Forever Ago has maintained status in my collection as an epic collection of songs that make any feelings of loneliness or despair that seem less daunting.

It’s easy to say that when I found out the other day that Justin Vernon, aka Bon Iver, is releasing another album, my heart skipped a beat.  It’s said that the new album will feature “silky electric guitars, beautifully intricate keys, and subtle horn and string sections.” Other artists included in the compilation will be bass saxophonist Colin Stetson, Michael Lewis, Rob Moose, and CJ Camerieri.

It seems that the album will be named Bon Iver.

Tracklisting is as follows:

1. “Perth”
2. “Minnesota, WI”
3. “Holocene”
4. “Towers”
5. “Michicant”
6. “Hinnom, TX”
7. “Wash.”
8. “Calgary”
9. “Lisbon, OH”
10. “Beth/Rest”

Download For Emma, Forever Ago:

For Emma, Forever Ago - Bon Iver

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