Home State Loyalty: A Review of Bon Iver

Murfie has an admitted love for all things Wisconsin, given our location and the fact that Madison really is an absolutely wonderful place. That being said, I certainly didn’t need any bias to appreciate Bon Iver’s 2011 album Bon Iver, created by the Eau Claire-based Justin Vernon. Although my hometown loyalty was what prompted me to listen to this album the first time, it certainly isn’t the reason for listens 2, 3, and 100.

This may mean that my attention span is stunted, but it’s rare for me to find an album that I consistently listen to all the way through. Bon Iver creates the perfect combination of hushed and complex, relaxing but not the least bit boring. It would be easy to dismiss the first few mellow notes as background music, but Vernon’s tracks feel more like escapism. He made the album alone in the woods, and it shows. His songs are deeply intimate, but yet not remotely limited by his low-key recording style.  Vernon may have retreated to his cabin in the woods to hash out his feelings, but he did so in a way that built a whole new, intricately layered sound.

Vernon’s voice alone could carry this album, with his incredibly earthy sound and beautiful upper registers. The biggest improvement from previous album For Emma, Forever Ago, however, is Vernon’s newfound emphasis on his band; he has taken Bon Iver from essentially a one-man project to the work of a group. The addition of instrumentation like strings, horns and electronic sounds makes this album that much more ambitious, and that much more of an accomplishment.

Even Vernon’s track listing is perfect, creating an experience that seamlessly unfolds. Opening with the quiet “Perth” and building to standout tracks like “Holocene” (Track 3) and “Michicant” (Track 5) before closing with the vintage-inspired “Beth/Rest”,  Vernon has supplied a record that has a strong sense of how it flows. That flow is what makes this album so fantastic—it transitions beautifully from one song to arrangement to story without so much as a stumble.

Get to Know a Murfie Staffer!

Here’s another chance to show off our great co-workers at Murfie! Ask anyone here, and they’ll tell you one of the best things about Murfie is the people.

This gal is not only great to work with, but she does a heck of a lotta important things that are essential to the daily functions of Murfie Operations—

GAO VANG

a765be64-d395-11e2-9dc3-de256bd96523Where are you from? > My parents are Hmong immigrants from Laos and I was born and raised in Eau Claire, WI.

How long have you been working at Murfie? What is your role? > It’ll be 2 years in August! I assist in customer support and managing operations. I handle everything about downloads.

What do you like about working at Murfie? > First, the people–I’ve made best friends working here. Second, the challenge of working in a startup–not everything has been done before. We have to create our own programs and our own standards. It’s fascinating and exciting to see what we can come up with.

What kind of music can be found in your Murfie collection? > Mostly Pop/Rock.

2066-largeWho are your favorite artists/bands of all time? > I’m a 90’s girl. I love Nirvana and Sublime. I will always sing along to Backstreet Boys and Mariah Carey.

If you could have coffee with any musician, from any time, who would it be and why? > Marilyn Manson. He’s incredibly intelligent and down-to-earth. I feel like we would have great conversations. The only topic I would avoid is my taste in music.

Are you a Beyoncé fan? > And a Destiny’s Child fan? Yes. Yes.

What album are you really digging right now? > I have Paramore on repeat at the moment. It’s fun to dance and sing with it.
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Do you have any pets? > Yes! Charlie, my dog, turned three last month. She’s still sassy as ever.

What is your favorite food? > Ian’s pizza. I’m trying everything on their menu.

What can people find you doing when you’re not at Murfie? > Chilling at the dog park with Charlie and DJ, my boyfriend.

Now you know more about Gao, our download expert extraordinare! We hope you enjoy seeing some behind-the-scenes stuff about us Murfieans, because some real cool peeps run this site!