2008 releases artists artists to watch for in 2010 digital downloads guitar music music videos

So happy I just heard: Ben Howard

The music blogging gig is a weird thing… you can go months without hearing anything that inspires you, and then all of a sudden a whole host of tunes reach out and smack you across the face in a course of a week.
This has been one of those weeks.

Today, following a link posted in Jason Mraz’s twitter account (not actually run by Jason, but you know what I mean), I headed across to listen to some of Ben Howard‘s tunes… and immediately spent 20 minutes clicking “play”, again and again.

Ben hails from Devon, in the United Kingdom, and considering his style of playing and musical influences (John Martyn, Jeff Buckley, Joni Mitchell, Ray Lamontagne, Damien Rice, Jose Gonsalez, Bon Iver), I was surprised I hadn’t stumbled across his stuff before… as really, that sounds like a typical afternoon on my iPod.

Ben has that percussive style of guitar playing that’s seen in some of my favourite guitarists mentioned on here before, such as Andy McKee, Guy Buttery, Xavier Rudd and Kaki King. After a bit of surfing, I came across a video – which I’ve embedded below – of Ben playing a live set featuring the song, “Empty Corridors”, that is simply amazing…


Quite frankly, I’m putting Ben Howard on my “Surely Going To Make It” list. And that brings me to the real reason for this post: I’m sending you towards his myspace page to listen to the opening track there, entitled “The Wolves”. If “The Wolves” isn’t enough to convince you of this kid’s future, then I’m not sure what will. From that opening “Ooooh”, it’s sheer perfection.

Listen. Love. Support.

2007 Releases artists artists to watch for in 2008 digital downloads guitar music music videos

Bon Iver – The Wolves (Act I & II)

There’s a new Bon Iver video out, and it’s story is – quite frankly – inspiring. First, I think I should note that my love for all things Justin Vernon (aka Bon Iver) related is no secret. The guy’s voice, phrasing, and touching lyrics were some of the best that I heard in 2007. So it was with much excitement that I heard about a new video being released, for the outstanding song, “The Wolves (Act I & II). What I wasn’t prepared for, however, was the backstory to it.

The video for the song (which can be found on the album, “For Emma, Forever Ago“) was directed by Matt Amato, and filmed on location in Fall Creek, Wisconsin. I think the video description says it best, so I’ll let those words to the talking:

This is by any description, a project that almost never happened. Rushing to get to Wisconsin for fresh snows and still frozen air, Director Matt Amato arrived in Eau Claire, hometown of Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, in late January. In the midst of warming up after a long journey and excitedly telling Justin about all the projects he had on the horizon, Matt received a phone call. One of his best friends had suddenly and tragically passed away. All logic and reason were thrown out. Nobody knew what to do. Matt didn’t know whether to stay or go, or how he would even manage to get back to the airport in his state of shock. Justin just tried to stay calm. Between a flurry of phone calls and attempting to contact some of Matt’s family to accompany him home, night fell. Almost by default, Matt remained in Eau Claire in the company of his newest acquaintance. Something about it was safe, and that was enough. The next morning, Matt read the lyrics to “The Wolves” and felt as if those were the exact words he needed to hear from his departed friend. That pretty much sealed it. Matt would stay and work, even as the thought of making a video became the last thing on their minds. They built a bonfire and just let it burn all day and into the night, and Matt filmed. The weight of the circumstances propelled the collaboration to a place these sort of projects don’t often go. The cathartic spirit of Bon Iver’s music had found its kindred spirit in imagery.

Now, let me be clear here: the video itself is amazing, and would stand as a great piece on it’s own, regardless of the story behind it’s creation. That said, the history behind it communicates the power that Bon Iver’s music has; it truly is a cathartic experience, and one that becomes shockingly personal to each person who listens to it.

The songs may become a different experience in your head than it is in mine, but to each person who hears it, it’s a unique, beautiful, fragile – and still, conversely – strong, masterpiece.

It’s music. And it’s beautiful.

Below the video, and below that, the song in audio format.

Listen. Love. Support. And stay strong.

Listen: Bon Iver – The Wolves (Act I & II)