Bon Iver – Bon Iver

He has collaborated with Kanye West and made an ambitious EP that dabbled into new territory by experimenting with an auto tune effect on his voice. It appeared as though Bon Iver’s next album could go in any direction. Although his new self titled release is very different from his debut, For Emma, Forever Ago, Justin Vernon manages to evolve his sound while still staying firmly in the territory that got him his fan base. The album has interesting effects all over it, such an example of this can be found in “Minnesota, WI” with a distorted bass effect in the back end of the song, as well as in opener “Perth” that teeters on rock when the drums come into full swing. Each song comes off as a sort of living, breathing piece of art. Each track changes pace and builds on itself by constantly adding and removing elements, making each track more exciting as you listen. As an album, this is immaculate, the unique construction of the songs leads the album to not only flow well but also prevents any sort of redundancy from setting in. The strange “Hinnom, TX” and “Beth/Rest” are both very interesting, the latter sounding extremely cheesy upon first listen but somehow still catchy and a nice way to finish the album. (Jagjaguwar, Scott Wolfe

Lia Ices – Grown Unknown

Brooklyn’s Lia Ices is moving up in the world. Since she released her first album Necima in 2008 on relatively unknown label Rare Book Room, she’s been signed to Jagjaguwar and even coaxed indie’s hottest sensitive cabin-dweller, Justin Vernon, onto her album. So what’s all this, then? Who is Lia Ices and why should I care? Well, the short of the who is easy enough. She’s that sorta-weird singer-songwriter lady. You know the one, Kate Bush birthed her in the late eighties and she’s floated around since under various forms and aliases. Lia Ices is a pseudonym, and I suspect this might be that offspring’s latest incarnation. Mz. Ices certainly can’t be faulted for lack of trying – Grown Unknown is intricately crafted, and quite pleasant to listen to. She incorporates all sorts of instruments and styles, often in the same song, while always remaining in the comfortable singer-songwriter suit. The album plods along, and you might occasionally nod your head, or find yourself impressed at the unexpected stylistic flourishes, but it’s rarely enough to compel you into investing yourself in the album. In fact, it wasn’t until the eponymous fifth track that I was truly drawn in. It seems like she found some extra creative spark halfway through the album, and she fortunately runs with it. The creativity peaks with “Grown Unknown” and continues for the rest of the album, but tapers with each passing track. When she can muster enough of this energy to sustain an entire album, it might be a classic, but for now, all she’s mustered is an occasionally intriguing but generally sort of boring effort. (Jagjaguwar, David Nowacki