Justin Vernon has made a habit of drawing attention to lesser-known artists – covering their songs, collaborating, giving shout-outs, even remastering and releasing an 8-year-old unfinished album from a band whose members have long since moved on. Winning a couple of Grammy’s and getting impersonated by Justin Timberlake on SNL doesn’t seem to have slowed or changed him one bit.
His newly-formed Wisconsin-based record label Chigliak recently announced their first release will be Amateur Love’s one and only full-length album, “It’s All Aquatic” that was recorded in 2004. Vernon goes to great length to illustrate the significance that this group and this record had, both on him personally and on his community in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. On the bands bio (on Chigliak’s site), Vernon writes:
“It’s a difficult task to write about Amateur Love. The band was the singular catalyst in founding Chigliak. What Amateur Love means to the history of Eau Claire music is representative of everything we set out to illuminate with this record label. Our goal is to release records that hold weight in people’s hearts. For us, it’s notable to point out that one person’s favorite record of all time may have only existed in bedrooms that were within 100 miles of each other.”
As far as the music itself, it’s hard to listen to Amateur Love without considering the context and significance that it’s been given by Vernon. The process that Amateur Love’s music incited dramatically impacted not only Vernon, but also Brian Mowen (Peter Wolf Crier), Josh Scott and Phil Cook (Megafaun), and knowing that changes the way you listen.
The foundation of Amateur Love’s music is electro-poppy, rather than organo-folky. The beats are fast-paced and constant, with ambient and melodic hooks played on a keyboard or synth. To put it plainly, this doesn’t sound anything like the music that Justin Vernon, or any of the actual former-members, have since released.
I’m sure that Vernon and everyone else involved want listeners to let the work stand for itself, but it doesn’t need to. This record is worth getting excited about because of it’s context. What each of them have produced since Amatuer Love gives us enough reason to check it out.
You can find Chigliak’s first release of Amateur Love (pre-empting the album’s release in late May of 2012) below, “Con/A Sewer/Cat”.