Spotify doesn’t do a great job with new music discovery. Their personalized “Discover Weekly” playlists were once groundbreaking - and while they’re still good, it seems like the technology hasn’t evolved in a long time. I’m ready for the next big thing in music discovery - and while I wait, I’ll be listening to a lot of Bon Iver.
Bon Iver (which is principally just a stage name for the front man, Justin Vernon) makes delightful music. It’s wild to hear how his music evolves and shifts from album to album, all while maintaining a consistent sonic quality rooted in sparse, patient, and emotional folk - even when the core sound diverges into rock and electronic.
If you haven’t listened to Bon Iver; if you’re interested in a musical journey; if you’re open to new and different sounds; and if you have a lot of time on your hands - then buckle up and turn it up. You’re in for a treat.
I’d definitely recommend listening in chronologic order starting with the first album, “For Emma, Forever Ago” (2008). Don’t skip the 2009 four track EP, “Blood Bank”. The self titled 2011 album “Bon Iver” is beautiful and has a warmer and more fully-developed sound than the rest of his music. Things start getting particularly challenging (and rewarding) in the 2016 album “22, A Million” where his well-established folk sound gets married with an aggressive, dark, esoteric electronic backdrop. It’s weird, it’s excellent, but it’s probably not good background music - at least not during your first listen.
I’m convinced that everything he touches turns to gold. Check out the last track on Taylor Swift’s latest album, Evermore. Swift spins her wheels on this tune for two and a half minutes until Vernon jumps in, changes up the melody, lays down some passionate poetry, knocks it out of the park, and then ducks out of the track after about 60 seconds. That’s a virtuoso.
Is there a line that I can just go cross?
Enjoy! And let me know if you have a good music discovery tool!
Please enjoy this memory from Christmas 2019!
It was Saturday December 7th. Jess and I were in Union Square in Somerville for a night out. Our friend Abby was DJing at a club called The Canopy Room - which Jess and I had never been to.
We got to Somerville a little early. It was a cold night, so we decided to head right to The Canopy Room. We were surprised to see that it was jam packed. We could hardly fit in the door, but we squeezed in anyways to get out of the cold.
As we passed through the door, I immediately noticed something unexpected. Instead of thumping dance music I heard a soft guitar. I peered around a curtain blocking off the doorway to see the club. It was crammed with people, all sitting down on little pillows on top of criss-crossing oriental rugs. The room was smaller than expected, with tapestries, paper lanterns, string lights, and potted plants lining the walls and ceiling. A trio of young women were playing guitar and singing a unplugged cover of Last Christmas by George Michael. It was the warmest coziest place. We overheard that it was a private show, but we justified staying for the rest of the song because leaving mid-song would cause a disturbance.
After a few minutes we were back into the cold. We found shelter at a nearby brewery, then looped back to The Canopy Room for Abby’s show. By then, the room had dimmed lights and dancing. But it still had remnants of cozy. I recall seeing a massive pile of jackets on a couch, and it made the club feel like a dorm party. It was a fun night.
Jess and I went to a Bob Moses concert at the Pier 17 venue in New York City. This was a fantastic concert. Bob Moses was on point, they put on a really great show. The venue was also great; it was basically on the rooftop of a pier in downtown New York right next to the Brooklyn Bridge. Plus, the weather couldn’t have been better. We also quite enjoyed the opening act, Broods.
Aside from the concert, we had a nice weekend in NYC. We stayed in SoHo and spent a lot of time walking through the Village. It was surprising how lively the parks were; I particularly liked Washington Square Park. If you ever find yourself in that area, I recommend Morgensterns Ice Cream and Third Rail Coffee.
We just got back from an excellent weekend at the Electric Forest music festival. Our friend convinced us to go to this festival for the first time in 2018, and it was an overwhelmingly positive experience. This year was terrific too! Please enjoy my photo album from Electric Forest 2019.
[Cover photo was taken from this Reddit post]
The Boston Calling music festival is always a great time, and this year was no exception. The festival was during Memorial Day weekend - so I’ve had some time to reflect on the experiences - and here are my takeaways:
On New Years Eve we went to a Twiddle concert at the House of Blues in Boston with our friends Abby and Amanda. Twiddle is a jam band from Vermont. As far as jam bands go, Twiddle’s music is often very upbeat and happy. Their lead singer is a very talented performer; his voice sorta reminds me of John Popper of Blues Traveler.
At midnight, they dropped a ton of balloons and confetti. It was a neat place to be!
This show helped me appreciate the audiences at the recent Zhu and Rufus concerts (also at the House of Blues), which were generally a little more laid-back and respectful. I think an abundance of alcohol consumption had this Twiddle crowd a little rowdy - but hey, that’s how it goes on New Year’s Eve.
Last night, Jess and I saw Rufus Du Sol at the House of Blues in Boston. Rufus Du Sol (commonly just called Rufus) is a dance/electronic band from Australia.
We saw Rufus earlier this year at Electric Forest and had a great time. Last night their show didn’t quite have the same level of energy, but it was very fun. I was happy to see that the vast majority of the vocals and instrumentals were performed live at this concert - which is not often the case in electronic shows. That being said, the music wasn’t as “tight” as it should have been.
As usual, the crowd was friendly and great. Jess and I have been liking House of Blues lately, particularly because they take the security screenings very seriously. We’re looking forward to going back for another show soon.
A special ‘thanks’ to Judy, Jess’s mom, for watching Violet during our night at this show.
Jess and I got engaged! To be more specific, we got engaged while at the Hulaween music festival in northern Florida. We had a great time.
Jess and I are going to Hulaween, a music festival in northern FL. In fact, we are on the plane as I write this!
This is a Halloween-themed music festival, and Jess and I rarely shy away from wearing a costume when given the opportunity. We wanted a good costume, but we didn’t want to be uncomfortable while dressed up; plus, we wanted a durable costume that wouldn’t break while traveling. So, we decided to buy black jeans and black shirts, and paint ourselves skeleton costumes.
This was a great little project. We were able to do the painting at night over a few days. Our strategy was to mark the locations of bones on the clothes (with masking tape) while we were wearing them, and then we took some artistic approximations while painting. We’re going to supplement our painted clothes with skeleton masks and gloves we bought online.
I’m optimistic about our costumes. But, it’s hard to get a sense for how they’ll look until we really put them into action!
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