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Volcano Choir’s Repave

Posted on the 18 September 2013 by Thewildhoneypie @thewildhoneypie

Volcano Choir Repave 620x620 VOLCANO CHOIRS REPAVE

What’s left to say about Justin Vernon? I think it’s a relatively safe bet to claim that he’s one of the most talented musicians we’ve seen in years (I mean, seriously, have you seen that cover of “I Can’t Make You Love Me / Nick of Time”?) It’s also safe to say that he surrounds himself with a bunch of equally talented musicians, like Sean Carey and Colin Stetson in Bon Iver, Kanye West and ,of course, Jon Mueller and the other Collections of Colonies of Bees guys in Volcano Choir.

After all the massive success of Bon Iver, catapulting the band from indie fame to having the kind of mainstream following large enough to play sold out shows across the world, I was wondering what would happen to Volcano Choir, Vernon’s theoretical side project (though the band is actually a couple years older than Bon Iver). Volcano Choir’s 2009 debut album Unmap had some stellar tracks on it, like “Island, IS” and “Husks and Shells”, which experimented with the same sort of electronic and epic elements that the 2011 Bon Iver album perfected.

Enter September 2013: Volcano Choir’s beautifully constructed second album, Repave, debuts, giving us amazing new music to digest as the summer comes to an end. My only criticism of Repave is that I wish there were more of it. The strongest tracks on the album, “Acetate”, “Byegone” and “Dancepack”, have quiet beginnings and build up into sweeping, epic arrangements with intense, attention-grabbing vocals.

“Dancepack” feels like the newest territory on the album, incorporating Ryan Gosling-esque “woah-ohs” from that 2009 Dead Man’s Bones album and really clean, rock-and-roll guitar work. The slower songs on Repave, like “Alaskans” and “Keel”, don’t necessarily succeed in the same way — they begin to feel like teasers compared to what Volcano Choir has demonstrated they can achieve on the rest of the album. Their purpose on the record is clear, though: without the quieter moments to reflect and absorb the epic-ness of the rest of the songs, the whole release would be overwhelming. If anyone’s an expert at controlling to power of a project, it’s Vernon and crew.

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