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on 26 January 2014
Having seen Justin Vernon play won of the most brilliant and mesmerising sets of my entire life, on the main stage at Green Man 2009, I have come to expect a lot from the great man and his ever expanding live ensemble.
The problem is that surrounding yourself with no amount of very fine and talented musicians, will not help or improve the quality of the songs, if none of those musicians are gifted songwriters. Collections of colonies of Bees, may well be good musicians, but top drawer songwriters they most certainly are not. The alarm bells started to ring when I first heard Beth / Rest and wondered whether I was listening to Bon Iver or Toto ( who actually could write and arrange high quality MOR songs ). Where Unmap stumbled around, experimenting with a lot of different ideas actually created some magical moments. Repave delivers a mediocre album made by an artist struggling for direction and inspiration. There is nothing on this record that even comes close to matching the magic of "For Emma, Forever Ago" and sadly this falls a long way short of the very fine fine " Bon Iver" follow up.
Volcano Choirs debut album Unmap was an interesting experiment and credit to the man for exploring new territory, but, Repave suggest limitations in Justin Vernons song writing abilities and he should perhaps chose his collaborators more carefully or stick to the more simplistic acoustic "folk" of his debut album. If you send me your address, I will happily forward the CD to you FOC as it simply doesn't cut the mustard for me, and is an over rated disappointment.
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VINE VOICETOP 50 REVIEWERon 9 September 2013
If the name Bon Iver conjures up a musical image of high falsetto over gentile melancholy then "Repave" the new album by Volcano Choir will come as a surprise. This band are a mix of both the songwriting skills of Justin Vernon and members of the indie folk outfit Collections of Colonies of Bees and now sound less like a side project and more of a fully formed rock unit. The album has Vernon trading crunching riffs and singing in deep tones but for those of you who loved the Bon Iver project and particularly his more expansive second album there is nothing on "Repave" which will grate or irritate. Indeed there are some mighty good songs contained therein and with the "Bon Iver" project essentially on hold or even drawing to a close this is a very worthy new direction and a considerable step up from 2009s more experimental "Unmap".

Check out the brilliant opener "Tiderays" builds from a church like organ to gentle acoustics followed by biting guitars giving a firm foundation to its rich choruses. You could of course pick the vocals out of a line up, however it is a deeper timbre that Vernon uses on "Acetate" which is considerably assisted by the massed voices of his colleagues guitarist Chris Rosenau and drummer Jon Mueller where they all declare "But I won't beg for you on acetate/I won't crawl on you to validate". The song "Batpack" is the first single off the album although it is "Alaskans" which steals the show as the albums centre-point. Here Vernon alternates between baritone and his smallest falsetto. The song appears to touch all bases of human emotion not least concluding with a sample of Charles Bukowski reading a poem from a documentary shown on French television. The most un Bon Iver moment here is "Dancepack" rooted with the lyric "Take note/there is still a hole in your heart" it is powerful and would not be out of kilter on a Arcade Fire album. Finally the big closer to the album is the six minute plus "Almanac" which shift shapes all over the musical map and is meaty multi layered anthem well deserving of the download button.

On the evidence of "Repave" Volcano Choir are no mere footnote to another more well known musical collective. Vernon himself has openly stated that he only played one guitar riff on the whole album and the presence of an experienced and expert band of musicians has allowed him to concentrate on lyrics and vocals. The result is a lush layered album with echoes of that expansive Canadian Rock of bands like Broken Social Scene but with enough of Vernon's distinctive musical trademarks to demand that you watch in awe as the volcano erupts.
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on 4 December 2013
I had heard of Justin Vernon, like most people, because of Bon Iver, but despite following other post rock bands, hadn't come across Collections of Colonies of Bees before. This album melds the two styles together to deliver a mature sound that stands up to repeated listening. I jumped at the chance to see them perform in Bristol as soon as they announced their November 2013 tour dates, and I was not disappointed. They played a couple of new songs which suggests further releases are in the works.

From what I hear, Justin is not in any hurry to revive Bon Iver now that he has this new outlet for his work. It's been fascinating to trace his career and those of the people he's been working with (such as Sean Carey) and the many different projects they contribute to. The "norm" when I was a lad was for bands to form, release a few albums and then for the singer to go solo; these guys prove that it's possible to follow a different path (and paths) which comes across as much less marketing and record company led, but, instead, authentic and personal.
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on 4 September 2013
A good album to buy while you wait for the next Bon Iver record, very nice indeed so much better than the first album much and more accessable. Try Acetate; Comrade; Byegone or the highlight the excellent Almanac....but there is not a bad track on this record. So a must for Bon Iver fans or even Midlake for that matter, recommended.
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on 11 July 2017
I got this as I love Bon Iver and as Justin Vernon is the creative force behind this band too I thought it's worth a go. His characteristic vocals and harmonies are ever present in this album too. There is more of a band behind the vocals on this record and I think that helps flesh out the sound well. If you're a fan of Bon Iver this is very much worth a listen.
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on 19 October 2014
This album was definitely the album of the year for me and has gone straight into my top 1. I have listened to it many many a time and I'm still not tired of it. The beauty of Vernon's voice with the epic expanse of sound in the background from the band - I think it's a wonderful creation. This album is filled with intrique, huge choruses and moments that are just sublime. It's been brilliantly worked and mixed. Some reviewers have said about the lyrics being poor, but to be honest, I like them and have never bothered to look too deep into them. And directionless?? No way - this album is strong from start to finish, and it flows beautifully from song to song. In my eye, it's a very well structured, focused album. In comparison to Unmap, it's very different. The same sounds have been brought through, but put into more traditional, less experimental, rockier songs. Think of Still on Unmap - that's the sort of sound on this album. But better. :)
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on 26 January 2014
Another group I fell into by accident and really kinda difficult to pigeon hole because they follow a single path. These guys are off on weird and wonderful journeys of their own but seriously do remind me very heavily of 80's bands such as Japan and Bauhaus for example.
I completely dig the 80's vibe something rotten so for me a real catch.
If you buy this, take it with an open mind and listen to them a few times to get their vibe in yer bones. But no matter what, enjoy my friends.
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on 14 February 2016
My all-time favourite album (and trust me I'm picky)
Sound quality not as good on vinyl obviously but this was bought for aesthetic reasons!
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on 30 March 2015
I love Bon Iver , but this is ...... difficult.
It is ambitious but does not draw you in.
The songs did not connect with me at all.
Interesting but not one to seek out.
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on 20 November 2015
much prefer bon iver
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