In his acceptance speech at this year's Grammy Awards—at which he took home the trophy for Best New Artist—Bon Iver's Justin Vernon spoke to the mixed feelings he had about accepting the award. "There's so much talent here on this stage," he said from the stage, "and there's a lot of talent that's not here tonight." It's an admirable stance, taking your big moment to point out that there are other artists at least as deserving that will never see that limelight. With his new Chigliak imprint, Vernon is using his power within the industry to expose some of those talents to the world.
The first gem Vernon has chosen to uncover is Amateur Love, a little-known electro-pop outfit that hailed from his hometown of Eau Claire, Wis. Chigliak will reissue the band's one and only LP, 2003's It's All Aquatic, on vinyl and digital formats May 22. The band, which featured Phil and Brad Cook (Megafaun) and Brian Moen (Peter Wolf Crier), was lead by area songwriter Josh Scott, whose writing had a big impact on Vernon.
"Josh Scott was the ambassador of my heart for many years," Vernon writes in an announcement of the reissue. "While both songwriters in Eau Claire, we were close friends and admired each other’s music."
The music, exemplified by the single "Con/A Sewer/Cat" (streaming below), is a low-key but nevertheless propulsive wash of sparkling synths, jaunty dance beats and strung-out effects. Scott's delivery and writing unite the lounge-y travails of late-night piano ballads with the abstract musings of '90s indie rock. Nights shift without warning from all-consuming revels to drunken sadness as Scott's high, nasally voice becomes more and more agitated. It's an intoxicating mix, one Phil Cook is glad to see get a second life.
"I'm excited to have it on vinyl," Phil said via email. "It's a fun record. It's the only record I can listen to as a bystander and enjoy the shit out of it every time. That's rare for an artist, but I think the music just came from a different place."