Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s featured selection, chosen by Midday Show host Cheryl Waters, is “Blood Bank” by Bon Iver from the 2009 Blood Bank EP on Jagjaguwar.
Bon Iver (loosely translated to “good winter”) is the brainchild of folk guitarist and singer-songwriter Justin Vernon. Let’s just say Justin and Bon Iver had a good year in 2008. His 2007 album, For Emma Forever Ago, was an amazing bright spot that caught a lot of listeners off-guard and probably even surprised even himself in the process. Subsequently, the album landed on a lot of Top 10 lists for 2008. Recording in a secluded cabin in Northern Wisconsin (his father’s hunting cabin) using analog equipment and playing all the instruments himself, Vernon created a body of work that transcends genres and has the unique ability to take you somewhere else when you listen to it. You can definitely feel the fireplace, the wooden floor, and the rocking chair vibe. And his guitar and falsetto vocals are haunting. Even if you don’t like “folk” music, this is exceptionally good. When he’s playing live, Justin enlists the help of fellow Wisconsinites Sean Carey and Mike Noyce. The new EP Blood Bank is a lot of the same and should fit nicely into the Bon Iver collection both as an extension of the previous album, and as a way to warm it up, blood with snow.
A sign of Bon Iver’s rising popularity was their appearance on the Late Show last December. Here they are performing “Skinny Love”: