Even though he announced the extended hiatus of Bon Iver last year, Justin Vernon has remained quite the busy little indie-rocker. Good thing Wisconsin deer-hunting season only lasts a couple weeks. He already guested on the new Poliça single, “Tiff,” now in steady rotation at the Current. Here’s a rundown of the Eau Claire bard’s other new projects.
Kanye West’s “Yeezus” album: Reprising his sidekick role from 2010's "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy," Vernon unmistakably sings in three of the tracks on the abrasive and wild new Ye disc, which will undoubtedly debut at No. 1 in Billboard next week. His AutoTuned voice kicks off the sordid “Hold My Liquor,” and he also delivers moody vocal bits in “I’m In It” and “I Am a God.” Click here to hear the “Liquor” part (and be forewarned that the song is as profane as the rest of the record).
The Shouting Matches: He reteamed with his former DeYarmond Edison mate and fellow Gayngs member Phil Cook of Megafaun indie fame for this surprisingly straight-up, rootsy, semi-bluesy new rock trio, which also features innovative Minneapolis drummer Brian Moen of Peter Wolf Crier. The three pals apparently first played together under that name when they were all living in Eau Claire in the mid-'00s. Vernon wore a Hawaiian shirt for their coming-out sets at the Coachella festivals in April, indicative of the loose, laid-back vibe heard on their humorously titled new album, “Grownass Men.” They’re playing First Avenue on Aug. 2. Here’s one of the tracks from the record below.
Volcano Choir: Seemingly the most ambitious of Vernon’s non-Bon Iver projects, this is the experimental ensemble he formed a few years back with members of Milwaukee art-punk band Collections of Colonies of Bees. Their second record, “Repave,” is due out Sept. 3 on the Jagjaguwar label and already sounds more accessible and fully realized than their odd and mostly boring 2009 debut, “Unmap.” Here’s a video for the first single, “Byegone,” below. Vernon is scheduled to perform another First Ave gig with VC on Oct. 18.