Taking a listen

by Ryan Snyder


Bon Iver — Blood Bank After escaping Raleigh to a snowy cabin in Wisconsin following the break-up of his band DeYarmond Edison, Justin Vernon spent three months crafting one of the most highly praised albums of 2008 in For Emma, Forever Ago. Released under the name Bon Iver (, the album was a solo effort with Vernon providing all vocals and instrumentation. Now that his band has evolved into a trio, Vernon looks to ease his fans into the new set up with a four-track EP entitled Blood Bank due out Jan. 20. Though the sound hasn’t changed much, it’s missing some of the lo-fi and postrock aesthetic that was found all over Emma. The creaky white space created by that lonely cabin has been filled in by a more cohesive, somewhat prurient radiance of rising crescendos and warm chord progressions. “Babys” is amazingly sparse in arrangement with only two piano keys making up the greater part of the instrumentation, yet Vernon’s overdubbed vocals create a rich harmony that pulls in the listener. Despite most of popular music gorging itself on AutoTune, Vernon incorporates it quite tastefully on “Woods.” There’s barely any music, other than the multiple layers of his voice repeating the mantra “I’m up in the woods/I’m down on my mind/I’m building a still/to slow down the time.” Blood Bank in all its brevity is enough to satiate the hunger for more created by his dynamic debut, but it certainly won’t be long before fans are clamoring for more.

Killwhitneydead — Stocking Stuffher Alright, so the holidays are mercifully over and done with for one more year. But surely, there’s room in your musical gullet for one more sickly-sweet holiday treat. All of the good little boys and girls no doubt received candy and Matchbox racers, but the naughty ones might have found a treat from Killwhitneydead in their Christmas stockings. The Greensboro death-core quintet and their metal-media mishmash have offered up a short appetizer of their usual, only with a distinctly Christmas-y flavor. By now you know what to expect from Killwhitneydead: fast, hard and loud pit music interwoven with samples from television and movies, both popular and obscure. Rapid fire clips of “Family Guy,” “The Simpsons,” Jack Frost (the scary one), Elf and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation serve to provide giggles, while the band spews forth raging guitar licks and pounding double bass beats. Yes, it is a little gimmicky and it’s tough to bear repeated listens over time. But take it for what it is and it can easily become quite a guilty pleasure. Isn’t indulgence in such what the holidays are all about?