Frankie - Bon Iver - For Emma Forever Ago (2007)
Around this time of year, when the light outside is always kind of grey, and the wind has a bite to it, I start pulling blankets out from their summer hiding places and reflecting on the year. I imagine that was much that same feeling Justin Vernon had in 2006 when he stole himself away to a hunting cabin in northern Wisconsin where he would record For Emma, Forever Ago under the new moniker Bon Iver. From what I’ve read, Vernon had a hell of a year; following the breakup of his previous band and also his long-term girlfriend, he contracted mono and pneumonia. The vulnerable state he was left in lead to him creating an album that I will always turn to when I am feeling much the same. Vernon secluded himself for roughly three months, with minimum equipment. All the instruments and vocals have a sort of hollow, primitive feel to them, and for a good reason. Vernon has told many publications that it was never his intention when he isolated himself to write the songs, and then it was never his intention for the songs as they were recorded to become the album, but rather just a demo. Vernon has a lot to say on “intention” as this album was entirely unintentional, and because of that it is so pure and innocent. The album was the fruit of one man’s attempt to cleanse himself, inside and out.
Vernon has said that he recorded a lot of the actual instrumentation before any lyrics. He would listen to what he had recorded and decide on lyrics as he saw they fit with the tone of the music. From the opening track Flume, we are given the basic algorithm for what the rest of the album will sound like; his music ebbs and swells, usually coming to a great wave for the bridge before growing calm once again. Some of the tracks have as few as eight vocal tracks, all recorded by Vernon and spliced delicately together.
This album is also very special to me because of one very precious moment I shared with my boyfriend, who is a cinephile to the bone. I have been exposed to many brilliant movies because of him, and around this time last year, in my warm, red-lit bedroom in Athens, he showed me one of his favorite movies, A Place Beyond the Pines. At the closing, he told me the song that was playing was his favorite Bon Iver song, The Wolves (Act I and II). I jumped out of bed, animatedly slid to a stop in front of my small record collection, pulled For Emma, Forever Ago from its sleepy hiding place, and presented it to him. I can still remember the smile that broke out across his face. It had always been a favorite of mine, but that moment landed it permanently on my all time favorites list.
My favorite song on the album is “For Emma” which gives the album its name with its final lyrics. The song plays out as a short conversation between an unnamed man and women, as outlined by Vernon himself on a lyric sheet posted to his website. The lines that strike me the most are “go find another lover; to bring a... to string along!/ with all your lies, you’re still very loveable.” I picked up my pressing of For Emma, Forever Ago from Haffa’s Record store in Athens.
Michael - The Mammoths - Golden Spell (2017)
This week I chose Golden Spell from our band fam, The Mammoths! The Mammoths have not only been one of my favorite bands to cover since starting Alt Revue. They are also one of my favorite bands that I have discovered in the process. Their unique blend of roots rock and psychedelic music is just fantastic. They were also one of my very first interviews for the site. Their EP Golden Spell contains so many fantastic tracks, including "Moth to Flame" (which they graciously allow us to use for the podcast), "So Cold", and "Red Dress", all of which they absolutely nail playing live.
This copy of Golden Spell was a gift from The Mammoths that they gave me while I was doing a concert review of a show of theirs at The Executive Surf Club. Every time I play it, not only does it hold a cool place for me because of the music on it, but also for the symbolic meaning it has for all of us at Alt Revue. It will always have a special place in my vinyl vault.