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Hot Stuff: Bon Iver Approaches Transcendence

The new Bon Iver album is jaw-dropping. The new Bon Iver album is jaw-dropping.

This week, we’ve got some of the best records of the year to share with you. Bon Iver has absolutely blown us away here in the Rosebud Magazine office, while Fucked Up are redefining a musical genre (or two) with another amazing full-length. We Pedro the Lion fans are also psyched on the new David Bazan record. And of course, no online edition of Hot Stuff would really be complete without some metal, which we bring to you this time in the form of Swedish ‘80s revivalists, Portrait. And there's still more music to highlight your summer growing season, so let’s get to it:

Bon Iver – Bon Iver

There are moments on the new Bon Iver record that make you have to stop what you’re doing and just let your jaw hang. The self-titled album achieves moments of beautiful and haunting brilliance. Technically the solo project of American songwriter Justin Vernon, Bon Iver sounds very much like the work of an ensemble on this latest record. The most stunning moments here are achieved by combining accessible musical elements with more challenging out-of-the-box touches. It’s a precarious balancing act, deftly executed. Artists that find that perfect pitch, those who build a structure in their own distinct voice on a somehow familiar musical foundation, have always been the most impressive and arresting. Bon Iver is exactly that.

 

Fucked Up – David Comes To Life

Toronto’s Fucked Up might be one of the most critically acclaimed hardcore punk bands of all time. And with good reason. Actually, “hardcore punk” is a bit of a misnomer. Fucked Up sounds like an indie-rock band fronted by a hardcore vocalist, but there’s not currently a genre to describe that mash-up. Quibbling over labels aside, David Comes To Life is an ambitious concept-album about a man who loses the love of his life, and has to come to grips with his loss and himself. As usual, the sonic attack of the band is one of a kind – a glorious blend of melody and screaming angst – done to perfection over 18 raw tracks.

 

David Bazan – Strange Negotiations

Pedro the Lion was one of the only “Christian” indie rock bands who crossed over successfully to a secular audience. These days, the band’s primary creative force, David Bazan, comes across as more of an agnostic. Bazan was never really explicit in terms of evangelizing, and that was one of the key factors making him so well-loved - he still seemed like a guy you could relate to, who struggled with the same stuff we all do. On Strange Negotiations, he still sounds like that. There remains something almost painfully intimate about listening to the songcraft and singing of Bazan, and that’s exactly what makes him as compelling an artist as ever.

 

Portrait - Crimen Laesae Majestatis Divinae

On the other end of the spiritual spectrum, we have Portrait. It's good news for Mercyful Fate fans – Scandinavia has produced the second coming of the legendary Danish band, this time with a group of leather-clad and upsidedown cross-bedecked lads from Sweden. Seriously, these dudes spared nothing in recreating one of the greatest sounds of the ‘80s. But even better is that this is far from a Mercyful Fate tribute act. It’s clear who Portrait’s prime influence is, but the band still has enough of its own musical identity to make taking a rip through Crimen Laesae Majestatis Divinae a pleasure. not just a novelty. And for those of you who were never able to get past King Diamond’s voice, you should have no such trouble listening to Portrait. Their wailing vocalist veers more towards the conventional metal howler rather than trying to strictly recreate one of the most unique and polarizing voices in the history of metal. Get this record!

 

Dawes – Nothing Is Wrong

There’s nothing spectacular about the latest offering from Dawes, but that’s exactly what makes it worth listening to – there are no frills. This is pretty straight up Americana. On Nothing Is Wrong you get solid, traditional songwriting that you can easily imagine sounds the same in the studio as it does live, whether in a coffee house, theatre, or stadium. It’s refreshing to have something timeless like this one come down the pike.

 

Goes Cube – In Tides and Drifts

Metal has become so diversified that it’s getting harder and harder to nail down what’s what, especially something like Goes Cube. The Brooklyn trio has a post-metal vibe in the vein of Isis, but at the same time adheres to some more traditional elements. You get tastes of melody, healthy doses of sludge, and a little mish-mash of other genres along the way. Ultimately, In Tides and Drifts delivers power, which is the essential ingredient in any metal concoction. 

 

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Mercyful Fate was one of the most unique and influential metal bands of the '80s.
Last modified on Thursday, 09 August 2012 17:44

Happy is a regular contributor to RosebudMag.com and has written for various other publications, including Black Belt, Inside Hockey, and FoxSports.com. He transitioned to life as a writer following a decade-long career as a touring musician. He lives with his son in Vancouver, British Columbia

Website: www.rosebudmag.com/hkreter

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