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Old 02-04-2012, 10:40 PM
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Default Bon Iver

Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that you never see Bon Iver's Justin Vernon and Coldplay's Chris Martin together in the same room? Just sayin'.....

Seriously, though, I don't get what all the fuss is about. I like the instrumentation, but Vernon's vocal style is affected and at times truly annoying. And I can't make out even half the lyrics--he's the mumbliest lead singer since Desmond Dekker ("The Israelite"). He makes Tom Waits sound like an elocution instructor.

The Civil Wars, The Decembrists I get---but why this guy is up for Best New Artist (even though he's been semi-famous for a couple of years), Record of the Year and Song of the Year mystifies me.

Or maybe I'm just feeling especially curmudgeonly tonight.
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Old 02-05-2012, 08:00 AM
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Seriously, though, I don't get what all the fuss is about. I like the instrumentation, but Vernon's vocal style is affected and at times truly annoying. And I can't make out even half the lyrics--he's the mumbliest lead singer since Desmond Dekker ("The Israelite"). He makes Tom Waits sound like an elocution instructor.

The Civil Wars, The Decembrists I get---but why this guy is up for Best New Artist (even though he's been semi-famous for a couple of years), Record of the Year and Song of the Year mystifies me.

Or maybe I'm just feeling especially curmudgeonly tonight.
My son turned me on to Bon Iver when we were in Paris. I like the group, but then with my hearing I rarely if ever can understand lyrics. (I can hear the singing, but just not understand what's being said.) So I can enjoy the music as a whole without worrying about how well the singer is enunciating.

(That helps a lot with singers like Dylan too . . . )
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Old 02-05-2012, 08:02 AM
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I'm proud to say I don't recognize a single name mentioned.
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Old 02-05-2012, 08:07 AM
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I never heard of Bon Iver before this past Friday when I watched a profile of Canadian folk/rocker Kathleen Edward, who I understand dates the lead singer. I still haven't heard any of BI's music.
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Old 02-05-2012, 08:17 AM
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I'm proud to say I don't recognize a single name mentioned.
Why? Music didn't quit being good when you were 21.
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Old 02-05-2012, 10:23 AM
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--he's the mumbliest lead singer since Desmond Dekker
You're forgetting John Mayer.
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Old 02-05-2012, 12:01 PM
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I can make out 3/4 of Mayer's lyrics; but Vernon sounds like he's merely yawning on pitch.
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Old 02-05-2012, 12:11 PM
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Why? Music didn't quit being good when you were 21.
good point! i hear some of my teenage nephew's music and really like some of it and don't like some of it! it is all subjective but you at least should try to listen as you never know who you are going to enjoy listening to.
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Old 02-05-2012, 12:41 PM
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good point! i hear some of my teenage nephew's music and really like some of it and don't like some of it! it is all subjective but you at least should try to listen as you never know who you are going to enjoy listening to.
Exactly! I'm always willing to listen to something new.
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Old 02-05-2012, 02:15 PM
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Why? Music didn't quit being good when you were 21.
Popular music? It sure did!
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Old 02-05-2012, 02:17 PM
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Why? Music didn't quit being good when you were 21.
I was listening to rubbish when I was 21. Similar to today's rubbish.
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Old 02-05-2012, 02:38 PM
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I was listening to rubbish when I was 21. Similar to today's rubbish.
I wouldn't put the music Sandy mentioned into the "today's rubbish" category. If you aren't familiar with any of the groups, I would recommend checking them all out. All very talented musicians, even by AGF standards.


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Old 02-05-2012, 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Chicago Sandy View Post
...but Vernon's vocal style is affected and at times truly annoying. And I can't make out even half the lyrics--he's the mumbliest lead singer since Desmond Dekker ("The Israelite"). He makes Tom Waits sound like an elocution instructor.
I love the Tom Waits comparison.

As for your contentions regarding Mr. Vernon, your first observation will help to explain your second. He's given many interviews (American Songwriter, et al.) in which he explains that he's not interested in writing traditional lyrics at all- what he's instead aiming for, particularly on this album and not so much on his first, is syllables that sound good together and help to emphasize the various moods of his songs.

It's all about "affected" nowadays, I think.
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Old 02-05-2012, 03:25 PM
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I'm not interested in hearing syllables smushed together--it's like an unrelenting onslaught of scat, only with a vocal tone that is less than pleasing. If I want to hear sonic textures and moods I'll listen to instrumental music of whatever genre (rock, folk, jazz, even electronic); if one has nothing to say, why bother singing it? I don't think Vernon's syllables "sound good together;" to me they sound like monotonous undifferentiated asyllabic mumblings.

I think there's also more than a little of the hipster ethos there, which is that cleanly sung lyrics that mean something and making eye contact with the audience are "commercial" and thus to be avoided at all costs lest one be seen as giving in to the Establishment. Same as the punk ethos back in the '70s (but there, any better than primitive musicianship) when the worst epithets one could hurl at a band were "tight" and (heaven forbid) "polished." I think a lot of punk musicians got tired of hiding their instrumental lights under a bushel, and New Wave evolved, which made barebones rock & pop safe for chops again. Maybe the current trend of "atmospheric" pseudo-folk will similarly morph when its singer-songwriters realize that they want their sentiments to be heard and pondered by their audiences.

Those who stopped listening to popular music since 1975, check out Kathleen Edwards, the Decembrists, the Civil Wars, Lucinda Williams, and the current crop of NON-navel-gazing acoustic singer-songwriters (including some who've thrown a bit of electric guitar into the mix) who write interesting lyrics that are neither marshmallow fluff nor soul-baring TMI.
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Last edited by Chicago Sandy; 02-05-2012 at 03:32 PM.
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Old 02-05-2012, 04:06 PM
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Those who stopped listening to popular music since 1975, check out Kathleen Edwards, the Decembrists, the Civil Wars, Lucinda Williams, and the current crop of NON-navel-gazing acoustic singer-songwriters (including some who've thrown a bit of electric guitar into the mix) who write interesting lyrics that are neither marshmallow fluff nor soul-baring TMI.
I can absolutely see where you're coming from in regards to Vernon's idea of syllabic structures rather than traditional lyrics and I agree, much of the problem with it is the delivery he chooses to use. By itself, that falsetto is borderline unlistenable. Still, there is something about it and his music that I find endlessly compelling- much in the same way that I find Sigur Ros' music, whose structures, moods and lyrical styles very similar.

That being said, there are few things that I love more than well-composed lyrics (I am, after all, an English teacher with a writing degree!) and love all of the artists that you mentioned, in addition to the classics (Townes Van Zandt, Carole King, etc.)...

So, agree to disagree, I suppose.
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