"Each and every person on earth deserves to live fully with dignity, equity, justice, and joy. Instead, our capitalistic societies have created a world that is most supportive of the wealthy and the elite, and the predatory corporations and policies that drive their disproportionate success."
Bon Iver has shared a surprise new song entitled "AUATC."
Produced by Justin Vernon, Jim-E Stack, and BJ Burton, and featuring contributions from Jenny Lewis, Bruce Springsteen, Wye Oak's Jenn Wasner, Phil Cook, and more, it's Bon Iver's second single of 2020.
The song dropped today along with a music video created by Aaron Anderson and Eric Timothy Carlson and starring Randall Riley. Filmed in New York, the video is mostly a montage of simple, beautiful footage of Riley dancing across bridges and through neighborhood scenes, all while wearing a mask. It's distinctly summer-in-the-time-of-COVID-core, from its DIY feel to its vaguely anticapitalist implications. (The video begins and ends with a few brightly colored cartoons depicting engorged, Monopoly Man-like men in suits all eating vast amounts of cake).
The song's acronymic title stands for "Ate Up All Their Cake," so its anticapitalist arguments aren't exactly covert.
Bon Iver - AUATC - Official Video www.youtube.com
Unlike Taylor Swift's recent folklore, in which Vernon was featured, the song isn't a product of COVID-19 isolation. It's actually been in progress since 2018, when Vernon shared a rough demo. His digital platform PEOPLE described the song as "a rough draft of a song Phil and Justin worked on last summer. We want to finish it but havent had time in the same space to do so. We're open to ideas."
Like Bon Iver's first release of 2020, "PDLIF"—which benefited first responders and patients through the humanitarian aid organization Direct Relief—"AUATC" comes with a call to action. This time, the message is even clearer than the first one's: Down with the corporations that are swallowing us all whole.
Bon Iver - PDLIF - Official Video www.youtube.com
Sonically, "AUTUC" is similar to Bon Iver's most recent LP, i,i, which is richly complex, warm, and joyous, like the sound of a raucous summer beach vacation mixed with a few drug-fueled escapades into parallel dimensions.
"AUTUC" begins with a bittersweet, jingly piano riff reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen's "Jungleland" era. It starts with Vernon's vocals, digitally processed into a surreal warble as usual, and then erupts into strings, harmonies, and euphoric, expertly mixed acoustic guitar and the odd whistling woodwind.
It's all a bit chaotic, and it definitely requires good headphones—if you listen to it in mono it can sound like a wall of sound—but a closer listen reveals Bon Iver's characteristically adept production skills, which resemble those of a particularly excellent chef. Electric strings race from one headphone to the other; drums kick things off to a sprint; the song ends with a wall of warm, ghostly "oohs" before collapsing back into a soulfully spare outro.
As usual, Bon Iver is on the cutting edge of culture with his releases, preserving a sense of mystery with each of his eras. After rocking the folk music world with For Emma and building a mythological legacy off his time in an isolated cabin, he's since completely thrown off any semblance of genre, and he's turned Bon Iver into a gigantic family-like collective, which now appears to be involving itself in the dismantling of capitalism.
Perhaps the progression of Bon Iver's career is a good blueprint for how we should all live: Take some time to process our trauma in isolation before finding our crew, trying some stuff, getting to know God and then dedicating ourselves to achieving equality for all the world's people.
The "AUTUC" release was accompanied by a distinctly anti-capitalist statement from the creators, as well as a call for donations to Minneapolis Sanctuary Movement, Red Letter Grant, Equal Justice Initiative, National Independent Venue Association, and 350.
The letter shows that Bon Iver's been using quarantine to do some self-reflecting—about his (or their—it's unclear who's exactly writing the letter) own privilege and complicity within capitalism and his own impetus to dismantle it, both within the music industry and in general.
Here's the band's statement:
Each and every person on earth deserves to live fully with dignity, equity, justice, and joy. Instead, our capitalistic societies have created a world that is most supportive of the wealthy and the elite, and the predatory corporations and policies that drive their disproportionate success.
The average person is cast aside and unheard; marginalized communities are further oppressed due to race, economic status, gender, sexual orientation, creed, criminal record, housing stability, education, ability, documentation status, and more. The pandemic further magnifies these grave inequities and this unchecked greed.
We must continue the fight to topple capitalism as we know it, and recognize our collective participation in its dominant institutions. Bon Iver acknowledges our own position within and use of capitalistic practices. It is with recognition of our privilege that we are fully committed to using our unique platform to challenge and change capitalism within our industry, and far beyond.
We must empower and embrace our vulnerable neighbors. We must fight racism and sexism and classism to build a stronger foundation for the home we all deserve. We must support the leaders and organizations working to change our world for the better. From providing safe and stable housing, to empowering women, to liberating incarcerated people, to celebrating art and music, to fighting climate change, these organizations work tirelessly to foster a world that celebrates our humanity on a local, national, and global level. Please explore, support, and take action:
(contact legislators / leadership; donate)
The trauma of repeated displacement cant be understated. Beyond being a cowardly act — an admission from Mpls gov t… https://t.co/i7Cva48yp2— Minneapolis Sanctuary Movement (@Minneapolis Sanctuary Movement)1596247459.0
"We all have an obligation, a mission, and a mandate to do what we can. We must speak up for those who have been le… https://t.co/iW2W3xK8ch— Equal Justice Initiative (@Equal Justice Initiative)1595184122.0
(contact legislators; support favorite venue)
"Without this community, we're not going to survive. None of us have ever seen something so existentially threateni… https://t.co/tVwTtKB77L— National Independent Talent Organization (@National Independent Talent Organization)1596309361.0
(join movement; participate in "Raise Your Voice for a #JustRecovery" campaign)
Compounding disasters further expose the reality of the #climatecrisis. As hurricane and wildfire season hits the U… https://t.co/oeGnB2yfxC— 350 dot org (@350 dot org)1596657216.0
As Bon Iver said: Down with corporate bastards. A better world is possible. Redistribute the wealth.
There's an entire genre of YouTube videos that consists of nothing but news bloopers, and they're equal parts hilarious and panic-inducing.
"Right after the break, we're going to interview Erik Weihenmayer, who climbed the highest mountain in the world, Mount Everest, but he's gay—I mean, he's gay, excuse me, he's blind."
Back in the early 2000's a young news anchor in New Mexico had a slip of the tongue on live TV that has enterred the annals of news blooper history.
Gay Mount Everest www.youtube.com
Cynthia Izaguirre had just gotten done reporting on a separate story discussing activism for gay rights, and was setting up a segment with the first blind man to climb Mount Everest, and her thoughts got twisted on the way to her mouth, resulting in a 14-second clip that would live on in infamy.
Here's what to listen to this weekend.
If you're anything like us, you're probably overwhelmed by the sheer number of albums being released on a weekly basis.
We're here to make your music discovery a little bit easier. Popdust's weekly Indie Roundup finds the five best albums coming out each week so that you don't have to. Every Friday, we'll tell you what's worth listening to that might not already be on your radar.