Song of the Day: Volcano Choir – Byegone

photo by Cameron Wittig

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of 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 song, featured on the Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Byegone” by Volcano Choir from the 2013 album Repave on Jagjaguwar.

Volcano Choir – Byegone (MP3)

Formed in 2005, Wisconsin’s Volcano Choir’s atmospheric post rock-influenced songwriting evokes a sweeping, emotionally direct take on personal themes. Members of Collections of Colonies of Bees (Jon Mueller, Chris Rosenau, Daniel Spack, Thomas Wincek) and a then-unknown Justin Vernon first started work on the group’s first album in 2009, but a series of events led Vernon in a different direction before returning to the group in 2009 for their debut, Unmap. Adding bassist Matthew Skemp to the lineup after Unmap’s release, the band regrouped in late 2012 to finish their second LP, this year’s excellent Repave. (Read a full review of the album here.) “Byegone” packs at least three major dynamic shifts in its four-and-a-half minute runtime, and each one is stronger than the last. Vernon’s uniquely abstract lyrics are on full display here (“Tossin’ off your compliments, wow/ Sexing all your Parliaments”), but rather than detracting from the song’s shimmering bounce, they lead it. Like a less-stark version of Bon Iver, Bon Iver’s thundering opener “Perth”, not only do the band sound incredibly loose on “Byegone”, they sound like they’re having a hell of a good time, which is no small feat for a post-rock group led by a guy who was primarily known for having pneumonia in the woods that one time.

Volcano Choir embark on a West Coast tour in January, and they’ll be stopping in Seattle to play the Neptune Theatre on Saturday, January 25th. Get tickets and more information about that show here, keep up with the band on their website and Facebook, and watch the video for “Byegone” below.

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