Justin Vernon is back - but not in a Bon Iver sort of way. Nope - if you're looking for ethereal earthy minimalist folk tunes, this is not the Vernon for you. But for those looking to rock... allow me to introduce you.
Part early Black Keys, part Wilco's Sky Blue Sky record, and part Southern roots rock and roll, Grownass Man, the debut album from Vernon's newest endeavor The Shouting Matches, is guitar laden and gritty. The record gives us a handful of tunes slathered with harmonica, hammond organ, and blues guitar. Vernon's signature falsetto is practically unrecognizable on tracks like "Heaven Knows" where he almonst groans the lyrics.
Vernon has reinvented himself, and it's a good thing. Grownass Man is 36 minutes of fun-loving rock and roll music. From the instrumental "Milkman" to "Three Dollar Bill" and its barely comprehensible lyrics - this isn't a record that's deep or opining. This, my friends, is beer drinking music- Southern rock and roots at its finest.
Vernon stepped away from Bon Iver last fall. "I look at it like a faucet. I have to turn it off and walk away from it because so much of how that music comes together is subconscious or discovering. There's so much attention on the band, it can be distracting at times. I really feel the need to walk away from it while I still care about it. And then if I come back to it - if at all - I'll feel better about it and be renewed or something to do that."
The Shouting Matches has Vernon as part of a three piece ensemble - along side Phil Cook and Brian Moen. The band played Cochella over the weekend and what a difference a year makes. Last year Vernon was on the main stage with a cast of over a dozen other musicians with him...including a full horn section. This year, it was Vernon as part of a stark and seemingly green three piece playing a side stage at the festival.
Grownass Man was released last week via iTunes, and is available in full release tomorrow (April 16, 2013). I highly recommend picking up a copy, opening a cold one, and soaking in some great new music.