I think sometimes what happens with End of the Year Lists is we all want to be different. I am not ashamed to say that I take a little pride in having records on my list that nobody else has. That's just part of the scavenger mentality of being a music fan in the digital age. This year that might not be as true as in the past, but it is something I certainly think about. But I guess at the end of it, the driving force behind these lists are things that we liked. And sometimes, the things we like, and the things that a lot of people like, are the same. When Bon Iver' first album became a hit, I was pretty shocked. Now, obviously, I'm not. It's kind of like how a band name is weird the first time you hear it. No matter what. But then you hear it and it's all like, oh yeah, of course they are called The Receiving End of Sirens. Duh!
Weird digressions aside, Bon Iver was perhaps the record I was most afraid would fail me (like that's somehow a thing). What I mean is that For Emma, Forever Ago kind of knocked me on my booty. I liked folk music a lot at that point, but this was something different. And so I also knew that once this guy was thrust into fame, his music would obviously be different. Maybe even disingenuous. But Bon Iver is very sincere and very relatable in many ways. "Perth" and "Holocene" and even "Beth/Rest" all carry very distinct viewpoints and slice-of-life-isms. But the way they are delivered, with build-ups and falsettos and sometimes even electronics/horns, make each song standalone yet crucial to the building blocks of Justin Vernon's always interesting worldview. Bon Iver made Justin Vernon a star for real, despite what people were calling him before. And I can't really wait to see how he continues onward and upward.
We've finally arrived at the end of my top 5. Sorry this wasn't with the last post, but I was busy watching my Cowboys receive the most embarrassing lost of the last 10 years. Pitiful. But on to happier things.
5.)Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago (One of my "controversial" reviews because some didn't dig the style, even likening it to Pitchfork. But I disagree in that assessment because my review was highly emotional and written on a much more subjective level, something that Pitchfork is adamant against. And for the record, I love this review and I think it is a very, very good summation of this record. Now on to the actual music... Also, another reason why I hate using numbers when describing music.)
My history with this album stretches back quite a long time. When I stumbled upon this last winter, well, I hated it. I couldn't get into it for whatever reason. It dragged and seemed to be happy just being slow and going nowhere. I deleted it. This was even before I had heard the whole thing. Such a shame since "RE: Stacks" was but two songs away. Fate found me downloading a playlist from one of my favorite blogs (myinlandempire.co.uk, which isn't updated very often anymore). The song blew me away. I had to know its origins, its meaning and its composer. I knew the name sounded familiar and soon enough I had the album for a second time. This time I prepared myself by starting from the back. I worked my way through it like a homework assignment. I learned the lyrics and appropriated them into my life. I tattooed my lower back with Justin Vernon's longing and heartache. And I haven't looked back sense. Why is it that I fought so hard against this? Who knows, but it's because of all this work that I now have such a strong attachment to the record. Now I'm destined to over-analyze everything this man puts out. I will be there every step of the way, and trust me when I say there is no harder man for Bon Iver to please than me. So we'll see how Blood Banks stacks up when I have more time with it. We'll see how my life is changed, if ever, again by the folk and moods of one extremely talented person.
So this concludes my in-depth reasoning for my top 5 albums of the year. My full list can be found HERE and all of the others will be posted soon enough, if not already. You all have been amazing to me, and as I near 20,000 views on this, I can't easily describe how thankful I am to you all. It takes a special kind of person to follow the dramatic, nerdy, self-loathing ramblings of a guy like me. But it's because of all you that I can write like this. I'm not one to easily change who I am just because a few people don't "get it" or "like it" or "want to see me naked." Back in the dark days before Junior Year when I thought I was doomed to a life of what if's and that-happens-to-other-people, I never thought so many of my dreams would come true. Now I sit on the cusp of yet another revolution in my life (I sent in my first portfolio school application today.) This time next year I will be in a new place, doing new things, and most likely around new people. And you know what? I can't wait. I absolutely cannot wait.