Justin Vernon
Hazeltons


4.0
excellent

Review

by Tom Stephenson USER (15 Reviews)
September 28th, 2009 | 79 replies | 24,676 views


Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Better than For Emma, Forever Ago? That's for you to find out.

6 of 8 thought this review was well written

Date: 28/9/09
Time: 12:54pm
Subject: Justin Vernon – Hazeltons

The following eight points are essential; read and memorise them carefully before proceeding to listen to this album or extreme confusion and/or disappointed may ensue. Please be aware that it is best – though not compulsory - to read the subsequent statements in order of presentation.

1. In terms of Vernon’s discography, this record fits between DeYarmond Edison’s Silent Signs, released in ‘05, and Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago in late ’07. DeYarmond Edison was a folk quartet in which Justin played guitar; after his departure they went on to form the freak folk trio Megafaun.

2. Hazeltons was only ever pressed for a hundred copies; these were sold in Wisconsin’s local music store, packaged and adorned with Vernon’s own personal wildlife photography. The songs themselves still remain somewhat of a rarity and can be difficult to find, even through the use of the internet.

3. The production of this album is exceptional given the circumstances it was recorded. Crafted in Vernon’s own amateur studio, the record boasts a crisp, bright sound that lends itself to the joyful, upbeat feel of the first half whilst accentuating the more melancholy, cathartic feel of the last two songs. Unlike the material released under the Bon Iver moniker, Hazeltons sounds very organic and clean.

4. Stylistically, Hazeltons closes the gap between Vernon’s traditional folk beginning with DeYarmond Edison and the soulful, experimental leanings explored within Bon Iver. The open guitar chords and bright, folksy vocal melodies can still be found here, but are more often than not exchanged in favour of the more subdued, sorrowful approach that characterized For Emma, Forever Ago.

5. When comparing Hazeltons with his most recent work, the most obvious difference can be found in the delivery of the vocals. The gorgeous falsetto that Vernon would develop in later years is utilized much less frequently and is replaced by his soulful, full baritone voice, giving many of the songs brighter, more focused characteristic. The same is true for the gospel-like harmonies that would become a distinguishable trait for Bon Iver; instead, much more minimal – yet equally effective – two or three piece harmonies tend to be used.

6. Although most tracks on Hazeltons are unique and refreshing in context, the two standout songs can be found at the beginning and the end of the record. The title track begins with a wonderfully finger picked introduction before introducing Vernon’s powerful, uplifting vocals. The song ends triumphantly with soaring harmonies and several layers of guitar - the complete opposite to the closer. On the other end of the spectrum, “Hanna, My Ophelia” is a terribly mournful tale reliving a burial of a lover. Littered with only a few plucked chords and harmonics, Vernon’s melancholy crooning is incredibly honest and meaningful enough to hit home.

7. Tears fall on my muddy feet / I quiver as the pulleys squeak / As they lower you so slowly in the ground / Your niece she sang an angel's song / and, Love, I hope it won't be long / Hanna, I hope it won't be long…

8. The only qualm to be made with Hazeltons is the amount of seemingly useless filler. The dissonant ending to “Liner” and the whole of “Game Night” (a redundant interlude reminiscent of Bon Iver’s “Team”) subtract from the flow of the whole record and form an unnecessary contrast between them and the rest of the track list. Many songs also could have been condensed significantly; although part of the attraction for “A Song For A Lover of Long Ago” is its lost, meandering feel, shaving a couple of minutes off the end would have been more than justified.

Now that you have read through the information, you are equipped with the prior knowledge necessary to make your listening experience a pleasurable one. You will still have one resounding question: is this album better than For Emma, Forever Ago? Well that, my friend, is for you to find out.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Tits McGee
September 28th 2009



1876 Comments


shit I didn't even know this existed

excellent concept for a review, and well executed

Douglas
September 28th 2009



8984 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Yeah, interesting read.

I now have to find this!

tombits
September 28th 2009



3463 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I remember this style of review was done for an Adabisi Shank review, and I thought it was an interesting and fun way to condense a lot of information. It's my first review in ages so there will be lots of spelling and grammar mistakes!

As for the album, it's super good. It's different from For Emma, but you can still hear the beginnings of some of the characteristics that developed into Bon Iver. His other solo record, Self Record, is also good, but a bit too long.

tombits
September 28th 2009



3463 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Ruins + Dougie: Thank you! Use blogsearch, it is out there.

Also, one of my favourites off the record: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rFHmXsE5IU

Mordecai.
September 28th 2009



8257 Comments


Awesome review. I need to check this out, and that Volcano Choir record as well.

Douglas
September 28th 2009



8984 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Got his now, love this now.

Douglas
September 28th 2009



8984 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

God, this is probs one of the best albums Ive heard in a couple of months.

Spare
September 28th 2009



5223 Comments


glad to be of assistance

Douglas
September 28th 2009



8984 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Thanks a heap man, I am enj-fuck-oying it immensely

Spare
September 28th 2009



5223 Comments


lol

LiquidVelvet
September 28th 2009



628 Comments


question: Is Self Record an actual album, or just some self recorded stuff that some kid on the internet threw together and called "Self Record"? I saw it in a discog download along with this, but didnt nab it cuz i figured it wasn't legit.

Douglas
September 28th 2009



8984 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Im pretty sure it's legit

thebhoy
Emeritus
September 28th 2009



4459 Comments


wow, this sounds cool. Nice review Tombits, interesting read. I had wondered where you were at.

tombits
September 28th 2009



3463 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

@ LiquidVelvet,

yep, 'Self Record' is completely legit. he recorded it under similar circumstances to this so the production is pretty much the same. it's a strange album, it's super long and has heaps of atmospheric tracks and interludes that don't go anywhere, but there are some real gems in between them.

this is probably the best on that record, it's really really awesome: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6iV-PxIf2uY

@ bhoy,

thanks man, yeah i've been lurking and checking out new albums, but i didn't really have the time to review with school and life. we had a power surge the other day and i lost everything on our computer, but i was able to get all my music off of my ipod, so that was okay haha.

LiquidVelvet
September 30th 2009



628 Comments


got Self Record like, right after I posted that comment. Sides is amazing.
Still can't find his Mount Vernon or JD Vernon albums, though.
DeYarmond Edison rule too.

YouAreMySilence
October 1st 2009



3727 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Hanna and Emma?
Man this guy has been taking a beating.

This is incredible.

tombits
October 1st 2009



3463 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"Hanna, My Ophelia" is probably the single most depressing song ever.

MrCalum
October 4th 2009



371 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

fuckfuckfuck i have to hear this!

MrCalum
October 5th 2009



371 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Beautiful.

Skimaskcheck
October 8th 2009



2360 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

thanks to the man above for this one, he's not wrong either ^
Song For a Lover of Long Ago is really moving.



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