The Album Swap
Bon Iver | 27 February 2017

'Holocene' was the first song I listened to on the album Bon Iver and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with its atmospheric guitar, but especially with Justin Vernon's high notes. I'm convinced that even Aerosmith would have to respect those! 'Towers' was up next with a gentle guitar intro, some enjoyable bass and beautiful vocal layering, which made the track an easy listen. The transition into the folk section is a refreshing variation and its light, jazzy chords work well.

 

Continuing on a positive note, if you ignore the repetitive clean guitar part in the background of 'Michicant', it gives way to a set of beautiful lyrics and, with the accompaniment of a mix of bicycle bells and what sounds like a can opening, it's a decent song. 'Hinnom, TX' gives the impression that it's going to add some variety with its interesting intro and lower tone of vocals. However, Justin Vernon comes back in with a much higher register, as per usual. But, to give credit to him, it works incredibly well in this song, when layered with the much lower vocal part.

 

A piano piece falls in nicely to 'Wash', and I have always been a bit of a sucker for a good piano intro. The song takes a turn for the classical when the violins come in, but the minimalistic approach taken later in the tune doesn't become as monotonous as you'd expect. I was happily proved wrong for thinking 'here's another song for teenage girls to feel sorry for themselves to'. As well as this, the funky/electro middle section of 'Calgary' sounds quite original and, although it shouldn't really work with its mix of sounds, it creates an enjoyable atmosphere. The final song I listened to, 'Beth, Rest', is a passionate song from the outset, with a beautiful compilation of old rock guitar fills, powerful lyrics, atmospheric synth and a strong, metallic background sound throughout.

 

Bon Iver, in my opinion, is a little bit of a gem. The album is perfect for sitting and thinking about life too, so I thank you, Charlotte, for adding a bit more soul to my musical diet.

 

'What Separates Me From You' by A Day To Remember

Written By Charlotte Paradise

Knowing that Jack is into his heavy rock, I was mentally preparing myself for screaming and, well, general loudness. Needless to say, that is exactly what I got when he handed me What Separates Me From You by A Day To Remember, despite everyone telling me it is reasonably 'soft' for the genre. I must admit, when I saw the album cover, I was scared. Not a good start, I know. The man trapped in an hourglass, the empty coffin, the hospital bed, the broken glass... rather uninviting, don't you think? After pulling myself together, I decided that it was time to grow a studded choker and get on with the task ahead.

 

I made it as far as twenty-five seconds into the first song, '2nd Sucks', before I started to wince. The prolonged instrumental beginning almost made me feel safe, as its familiar soft rock sound wasn't too intrusive, but at precisely the twenty-sixth second, my ears were assaulted by the horrible, growling noise of the lead singer's opening howl. It still puzzles me why they put one of the darkest and most terrifying songs (alongside 'Sticks & Bricks') first on the album. Do they really want to scare all the new listeners off? Both '2nd Sucks' and 'Sticks & Bricks' solely consist of Jeremy McKinnon screaming at you as if you'd just killed his mother and he doesn't sound pleased at all. So, in my opinion, the titles give off the right impression: the song 'sucks' and you feel as if a million 'bricks' have been thrown over your head. But, I must admit, without McKinnon blasting words like 'devil'- that was the only one I could make out - the music is actually pretty good. On top of this, when I made it into the fifth song alive, 'Out Of Time', I couldn't believe my ears: McKinnon is actually singing and he's not bad! I would even go as far to say that he's got a soft voice.

 

Anyway, once you get past the screaming, like I said, the music is quite impressive. Alex Shelnutt's drumming is particularly exciting. His continuous smash cymbal hits give the whole album a consistent rockish feel and his accomplished fills add variety to the album as a whole. He even had me tapping my feet along with him.

 

Surprisingly, I have found another positive to the album: the short instrumental breaks, especially towards the end of 'You Be Tails, I'll Be Sonic'. The way it breaks down the song is effective and compelling; some may even say that the guitar is 'wicked', but I'll stick with 'I really liked it'.

 

Even though A Day To Remember is definitely not my cup of tea, I will commend their consistent level of energy throughout the album and I guess I can see why people appreciate them. Kind of.

 

James Routledge 2016