Calgary by Bon Iver – In Oklahoma we pronounce this bon (as in fire) iver (rhymes with diver). This is incorrect. Justin Vernon, holder of the nom de plume Bon Iver (and pretty much everyone else who knows anything about French), pronounces it bone ee-VAIR. I find this to be a bit pretentious. As such, I’m sticking with bon (as in fire) iver (rhymes with diver).
Calgary is the first single from his new self-titled second album. From what I’ve read so far, it’s pretty hot shit with the SMCs. I like it a lot, but the verdict’s still out for me. (N.B. I used to work with this gentlemen (I say “used to” and “gentlemen” because he’s since been appointed judge) who had a great tendency to screw up common sayings in such a way that when you heard them you understood what he was conveying but simultaneously you realized he’d somehow screwed it up. One of his classics was “the verdict is still out on that one.” Verdicts don’t go out or stay in, juries do. Juries return verdicts. But you knew what I hoped to convey, didn’t you? Some of my personal favorites (of which I kept log, given to him as a going away present) were: (1.) “She’s a tall glass of water” (drink of water); (2) “I’m just living my life under a telescope” (microscope)(additionally, “Life Under the Telescope” was the name I gave to log of his sayings); and (3) (personal favorite) “He’s a little behind the curve ball on that one.” (the brilliance in this one is the mash-up between “ahead of the curve” and “behind the 8-ball.” Presumably, these phrases have contradictory meanings (or at least antagonistic), but context would bear out what was actually meant. That doesn’t keep it from being a gorgeous mangling of the English language.)
The album flirts with Coldplay at times, but not in a good way (if there is a good way to flirt with Coldplay and I’m assuming it involves after-parties and drunken co-eds….whereareya?) and has some weird Richard Marx thingy at the end that I’m unsure how to address. It’s definately a full-album listen, because its best attribute is Vernon’s creepily and powerfully (two adverbs for the price of one) tragic voice. It’s this voice that I believe served him much better on Bon Iver’s first album For Emma, Forever Ago whose excellence was surpassed only by the story of its creation. As you might imagine, it’s about a chick that cut him up pretty good. Good enough, in fact that Vernon locked himself in a cabin over a northern Wisconsin winter and chewed himself up about it in album form. The result was fantastic. Skinny Love is one of the better songs I’ve heard in the last several years. I thought we really had something special. Then the next thing you know, Vernon’s singing backup on a fucking Kayne album. I shit you not. Enjoy.