What Charles Manson and Bon Iver Have in Common

Categories: Bon Iver

Justin Vernon aka Bon Iver is a mild-mannered hipster heartthrob who crafts his rustic, emotionally fragile-seeming folk-rock in a secluded Wisconsin cabin. Charles Manson is a babbling former cult leader rotting away in a California state prison for an infamous murder spree. According to Pandora Internet Radio, they're a lot alike.

See also: Live: Bon Iver and Frank Ocean Are Trying to Break Your Heart

More »

The Ten Best Concerts in New York This Weekend, 9/21/12

Frank Ocean goes on at 11:45 p.m. Friday on Stage 1 at Pier 36.
In no particular order, here are ten can't-miss shows in New York this weekend. For the Voice's full rundown of New York concerts, hit up villagevoice.com/concerts.

See Also:
- All Tomorrow's Parties Preview: Founder Barry Hogan on the Festival's Move to New York City
- Fear of a Talibam! Planet
- Three Reasons Why Old Records Are Bigger Than Ever

More »

Oddsmaking: Will Mumford & Sons Upset "Rolling In The Deep" In The Grammys' Record Of The Year Race?

Every year, when I get involved in Grammy debates with my cooler friends, I tell them the problem with the awards isn't that they reward mass-appeal schlock. If the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences is doing its job right, it should be rewarding popular, undeniable, and somewhat unhip records. The problem is that NARAS can't even reward the popular stuff right.

Nowhere is this more in evidence than in the Record of the Year category, which, next to the coveted, show-closing Album of the Year prize, should be the marquee award of the night. If NARAS were on its game, it would nominate five high-gloss, career-defining singles that crushed at Top 40, R&B/hip-hop, country or rock radio and then give the big prize to a title that makes everyone say, Yeah, okay, love it or hate it, that record dominated.

Instead, Record of the Year has largely become a head-scratching nonevent, in which NARAS, like a middlebrow missile, homes in on a song that's neither hip enough to be a critics' favorite nor undeniable enough to appeal to the casual TV viewership. Just in the last decade, NARAS has given you such Records of the Year as the Dixie Chicks' most atonal and bile-filled single; two little-heard "event" duets by Ray Charles with Norah Jones, and Robert Plant and Allison Krauss; and a U2 song some like to call a "9/11 anthem," ignoring the fact that anthems are usually widely known and this song came out a year before the tragedy and missed the Hot 100, not even charting after 9/11. Even some of the better RotY picks have been wrongheaded—I happen to like Coldplay's "Clocks," winner in 2004, but over OutKast's "Hey Ya!" and Beyoncé's "Crazy in Love"? Way to miss the plot, NARAS. (I wish YouTube had a clip from the '04 show of presenter and friend-of-OutKast Mary J. Blige, visibly deflating when she opened the envelope and read "Clocks," like the word was "broccoli.")

More »

Oddsmaking: Is Bon Iver Or Foster The People Alt-But-Not-Too-Alt Enough To Win At This Year's Grammys?

The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences introduced the Best Alternative Music Performance category in 1991 in anticipation of punk breaking later that year (and permanently renamed the award in 2000). Over the past two decades, the changing demographics of the nominees have reflected the ever shifting and hotly debated definition of the word "alternative." The Foo Fighters' debut was nominated for in 1996, but without changing their sound much at all they've since migrated to—and dominated—the Best Rock Album category. This year, the award continues to struggle with its identity with a field that's more unpredictable than usual: There's no lock like Beck or The White Stripes present and no big commercial breakthrough for a long-running band like the last two winners, Phoenix and The Black Keys.

More »

Oddsmaking: Will Adele Go "Rolling" Over Her Song Of The Year Competition?

The Grammys have a determinedly behind-the-times history, and Song of the Year is one of the ceremony's most reliably old-fashioned categories. It's given to the songwriter—even though what constitutes a "song" today is a lot different than when the Grammys began in 1959, back when sheet music was still a major music-biz income source. Usually the nominations overlap heavily with Record of the Year (which is given to artist and producer), with a couple of differences, sometimes confusing ones. (Take 2010—since when was Beyoncé's "Halo" more of a "record" and "Single Ladies" more of a "song"?) This year, the category seems like as much of a straight shot as the other Big 3 (Album and Record). But as with everything the Grammys do, from picking the nominees to putting on a show, there's always the possibility of surprise—last year looked like it belonged to Eminem, and he got shut out. It's highly doubtful that'll happen to Adele, whose "Rolling In The Deep" is nominated here, but with Grammy, you truly never know.

More »

Oddsmaking: Who Will Win This Year's Best New Artist Trophy At The Grammys?

In this week's Voice I wrote about Skrillex, the emo-dude-gone-dubstep-auteur who's spawned a bunch of funny-Photoshop blogs and garnered five Grammy nominations. One of the categories he's nominated in is one of the Big Four—Best New Artist, which seems to have shaken off its "one-way ticket to obscurity" stigma (recent winners include Maroon 5 and probably Woman Of This Year Adele). But does he have any chance at all of winning this genre-spanning category on Sunday night, and introducing those American viewers who aren't familiar with the EDM circuit to his aesthetic? In the first of a series of oddsmaking posts on SOTC over the next few days, we handicap his odds against The Band Perry, Bon Iver, J. Cole, and Nicki Minaj.

More »

Live: Elijah Wood DJs While Bon Iver Stays In His Corner At The Woolworth Building

Diana Levine/Bushmills

Elijah Wood
The Wooly
Thursday, February 2

Better Than: Reading about Bon Iver on the internet today.

After attending a party called Macaulay Culkin's iPod two months ago, during which I watched the love of my kindergarten days supervise a six-hour playlist and the twenty-somethings that were confused by it, I joked that Elijah Wood, a fellow childhood love and Culkin's on-screen rival in The Good Son, might have better taste in music. Apparently the Internet has ears: Last night we were invited to a Bon Iver hosted party featuring a live DJ set by none other than Frodo himself. And what sane person passes up free drinks and the opportunity to tell Elijah Wood that we loved his work in North? Not us.

More »

The 11 Most Infuriating Songs Of 2011, No. 6: Bon Iver, "Holocene"

The Song: Bon Iver, "Holocene"
The Crimes: Shapelessness, "atmosphere," wondering if we're all just particles, man, invoking existential music-listening crises.

Many of this year's most risible songs had clear reasons for being as irritating as they were—self-impressed "punk"dom, grating whistling, Katy Perry. But there were some records that, when they hit my ear, drove me bonkers in such a way that they had me wondering about the nature of my brain chemistry, and whether it was so off the mark that I was actually a deficient listener and in need of some sort of surgery or, at least, pharmaceuticals. Bon Iver's "Holocene," from the Kanye-beloved outfit's acclaimed-by-many-corners second album Bon Iver, Bon Iver, was one of those tracks that had me questioning my very existence as a listener. A nearly-six-minute bit of "atmospheric" latticework and falsetto, a spin of it would inevitably lead to me tapping my feet, and not in an "along with the rhythm" sort of way. (Because there really isn't much of any to speak of.)

More »

Underwhelmed And Overstimulated, Part V: Who Is Bon Iver, Again?

D.L. Anderson
That's ee-vayr to you, Nicki Minaj.
Sound of the City's year-end roundtable, with contributions from Tom Ewing, Eric Harvey, Maura Johnston, Nick Murray, and Katherine St. Asaph, continues. Follow along here.

Greetings to you four from Bloomington, Indiana, a happening college town perhaps one or more of you have flown over at some point. It's the birthplace of Hoagy Carmichael and David Lee Roth, and the home of John Mellencamp and Jagjaguwar Records, a label which this year released an album called Bon Iver, Bon Iver that you may have heard of. Most critics liked it, some liked it a lot, Rosie O'Donnell wanted more, pop lovers and rockists alike united to sneer at the smoothness of his album's textures and its ostensibly outré signifiers (I prefer the first album, but am a sucker for the Bruce Hornsby vibes of "Beth/Rest"). At the time of writing, 317,375 music fans have purchased it—40,000 more than Fleet Foxes, 40,000 less than LMFAO. Yet once the album was nominated for several Grammys last month, lots of people microcasted their ignorance of this album on Twitter. Quickly, another person culled this proudly professed ignorance into a Tumblr called "Who Is Bon Iver?" A member of a long-dormant Australian DJ concern accused him of "selling out" for lending his increased profile to something so horrifying as a whiskey concern, even though the accuser's own group hypocritically endorses deadly mountain calamities.

So what happened? Did the Bro From Eau Claire break through, or is he still a secret? If you follow music on the internet with any regularity, you couldn't go a day without hearing about him, but if you don't, there's a good chance you don't have any idea how to pronounce the name, and wait, the white guy from Kanye's album made his own album and everyone loves it apparently? To Twitter! It's clear why Bon Iver in 2011, just like Arcade Fire in 2010, made ripples critically, popularly, and awardishly—they fit long-established rock tropes into a modern, gently hip, and well-executed form. And it's also clear that this is happening at a point when with very few exceptions, good weird rock music is the last thing you expect to hear released by a music label owned by a multinational corporation.

More »

20 Questions Brought Up By The Grammy Nominations

The Album of the Year nominees, as presented by Katy Perry.
Last night's Grammy nominations show was full of pomp, eyeliner, and people on Twitter becoming very confused. Here's the complete list of nominees; below, 20 questions that we're still wrestling with some 14 hours after the broadcast signed off.

1. "Super Bass": Robbed or totally robbed?

2. Now that Rihanna is officially an Album Artist thanks to her Album of the Year nod for Loud, are critics going to rush to reevaluate Talk That Talk before they file their Best Of '11 lists?

3. A song from freakin' Family Guy gets a nod in the Best Song Written For Visual Media category but the Lonely Island's "Jack Sparrow" doesn't? Come on.

More »