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Sufjan Stevens

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Darren H   

Since I've had most of the Christmas music for two years, I'd sworn I wouldn't buy it. But then I saw that pretty little box sitting at my local record store and I couldn't pass it up. I figured it was worth $17 for the packaging, the stickers, and the songbook alone. "Jupiter Winter" might be my favorite Sufjan chord change and arrangement ever. I can't stop listening to that song.

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opus   

There are so many good little gems just on the 5th EP alone. I love the piano arrangement of "Once in Royal David

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Kyle   

I'm with you on "Holy, Holy, Holy" - it is remarkable and a remarkable addition, but as a whole, the fifth disc is my least favorite. If the Avalanche were re-heated leftovers from Illinois, that would make disc five it twice re-heated leftovers. That being said, there isn't anything wrong with leftovers, plus if that leftover is a much fun as "Get Behind me Santa", it isn't a bad thing at all. Overall, I'm still liking this box set a great deal. Let it also be said that our four-month old daughter loves boogying to the elf dance!

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opus:

Enjoy Your Rabbit (the one Sufjan release [no one] seems to talk about...[)]

Even among Sufjan fans, EYR is generally considered eh-to-yeech, and while I'd argue the album has a few nice moments, overall I'd concur.

The correct SfC hierarchy, with descending greatness: 3, 4, 2, 5, 1.

Dale

Edited by M. Dale Prins

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yank_eh   

it's really funny Dale, I read your last sentence and totally misread the acronym. Rather than translating SfC to Songs for Christmas like any being with an IQ would, I figured it stood for Sufjan Fan Club. So, I accordingly translated the numbers as discs in his catalogue. And it's funny because it almost works with Michigan (3) and Illinois (4) topping the list. I was going to take you to task for either forgetting A Sun Came or ranking it lower than Enjoy Your Rabbit.

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I finally got this set for Christmas, and uploaded it to my iPod shortly...

And then I listened to it.

Um... I've grown into a fan of Illinoise... but I'm not quite sure what to make of this set.

For me, a great album is one which takes the words and brings them to life. And I don't care if it's done with the Boston pops or with a kazoo and an empty jar that once contained peanut butter.

But with this effort, it appears that SS is going "look at me! I'm creative! I'm an odd artist!" The telephone answering machine version of "Bring a Torch, Jeneatte Isabella" is _mind-numblingly awful_--but it appears that nobody wants to acknowledge this elephant in the room because it's intentional, so it must be good, albeit in a subversive way. It's almost like a dare; acknowledging the obvious and thus appear oh so unhip.

If a fan out there can direct me to the songs that were truly transformative, I'd truly appreciate it. Otherwise, eBay...

Nick

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opus   
If a fan out there can direct me to the songs that were truly transformative, I'd truly appreciate it. Otherwise, eBay...

I, for one, found his versions of "What Child Is This?" and "The Friendly Beasts" to be quite stirring and transformative, as well as several of the instrumental pieces (which I wrote about, at length, in my review).

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I finally got this set for Christmas, and uploaded it to my iPod shortly...

And then I listened to it.

Um... I've grown into a fan of Illinoise... but I'm not quite sure what to make of this set.

For me, a great album is one which takes the words and brings them to life. And I don't care if it's done with the Boston pops or with a kazoo and an empty jar that once contained peanut butter.

But with this effort, it appears that SS is going "look at me! I'm creative! I'm an odd artist!" The telephone answering machine version of "Bring a Torch, Jeneatte Isabella" is _mind-numblingly awful_--but it appears that nobody wants to acknowledge this elephant in the room because it's intentional, so it must be good, albeit in a subversive way. It's almost like a dare; acknowledging the obvious and thus appear oh so unhip.

If a fan out there can direct me to the songs that were truly transformative, I'd truly appreciate it. Otherwise, eBay...

Nick

Well, let me say that I sympathize, Nick, and that I still find enough to like about this album to win me over. Or close to it. About half of it ranges from dreadful to boring, and the other half sounds inspired and new, sad, contemplative, and just off kilter enough to allow me to hear these old, familiar songs in a different way, and to make me pay attention to them again. Here's what I wrote earlier, with a few nods to songs that were, if not transformative moments for me (sorry, no Sufjan song has yet resulted in a life-changing experience, although I like quite a few of them), at least somewhat redemptive moments.

Sufjan Stevens

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mrmando   

Hey Nick, save yourself the eBay listing fee and just sell it here. Whadya want for it?

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opus   

FYI, there's another Sufjan Christmas album: Vol. 8: Astral Inter Planet Space Captain Christmas Infinity Voyage.

One of the tracks -- "Good King Wenceslas" (which sounds like Sufjan has been listening to a lot of Joy Electric lately) -- is also featured on Sounds Familyre's second Christmas compilation, which you can listen to here.

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Kyle   
FYI, there's another Sufjan Christmas album: Vol. 8: Astral Inter Planet Space Captain Christmas Infinity Voyage.

One of the tracks -- "Good King Wenceslas" (which sounds like Sufjan has been listening to a lot of Joy Electric lately) -- is also featured on Sounds Familyre's second Christmas compilation, which you can listen to here.

I think one of the comments described volume 8 as "for fans of A Sun Came". Good call. Maybe I was Christmas musiced out or maybe I've been in the mood for more traditional sounding Christmas albums, but Volume 8 didn't do much for me as far as Christmas album goes. It will be interesting to see how it fares in 2009 when I'm not done with Christmas music.

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mrrrty   

This certainly doesn't belong here, but seems like a good a place as any:

Stereogum's got a new Suf-jam, and it's epic. I'm sure that this isn't what the (mythical) next record will sound like, but one can only hope.

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opus   
This certainly doesn't belong here, but seems like a good a place as any:

Stereogum's got a new Suf-jam, and it's epic. I'm sure that this isn't what the (mythical) next record will sound like, but one can only hope.

Ahem.

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How can some of these even be considered "EPs"? Volume 7 has 22 songs on it. Volume 8 has 9 songs, one of which runs more than 15 minutes and another of which is almost 10 minutes. The common cliche in music is that an artist puts out a Christmas album when he/she has run out of ideas. What does it say that Sufjan has put out TEN of these things in the last decade or so? (I'm not suggesting Sufjan has run out of ideas... I haven't heard most of these Christmas releases.) But dang, with so much music at once, I'm sort of hesitant to take the plunge at all.

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I listened to 2 bands yesterday: GY!BE and Sufjan...how did they both announce new albums in less than 12 hours?

How can some of these even be considered "EPs"? Volume 7 has 22 songs on it. Volume 8 has 9 songs, one of which runs more than 15 minutes and another of which is almost 10 minutes. The common cliche in music is that an artist puts out a Christmas album when he/she has run out of ideas. What does it say that Sufjan has put out TEN of these things in the last decade or so? (I'm not suggesting Sufjan has run out of ideas... I haven't heard most of these Christmas releases.) But dang, with so much music at once, I'm sort of hesitant to take the plunge at all.

Well, he writes them every year. I've got 3 of these in rough forms. He distributes them to friends. So it's not as if he's made this all at once, they've been made over the past 6 years.

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opus   

As far as I care, Sufjan can pretty much do anything he wants at this point. Not all of his works are successes (The BQE) and some of them can be as maddening as they are satisfying (The Age of Adz), but they're all fascinating. More importantly, even in the midst of the numerous eccentricities and pretentiousness, I continue to find his music deeply heartfelt... especially when he turns his eye to the Christmas season.

Plus, anyone who can put a Joy Division lyric in a Christmas song and make it work is OK in my book.

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Tyler   

Christmas US Tour.

Sufjan Stevens will jingle-jangle his way across America, bringing yuletide cheer to your local music club, sharing reverent hymns and pop carols from his upcoming Christmas album Silver & Gold. “The Sirfjam Stephanapolous Christmas Sing-A-Long Seasonal Affective Disorder Spectacular Music Pageant Variety Show Distaster” will be a tragic-comedic feast for the ears and eyes. Sufjan will be joined by a 5-piece band (including Rosie Thomas, Nedelle Torrisi, Casey Foubert, James McAlister, and Ben Lanz) playing all the hits from both Christmas box sets. Send us your song requests!

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Tyler   

I've seen Sufjan once before (on the Illinoise tour) and liked the show a lot; Annie Clark (St. Vincent) was the lead guitarist, which didn't hurt anything. Wasn't a huge fan of his most recent stuff, but I like this Christmas songs.

And Rosie's Christmas concert was kind of life-changing, so I definitely want to go. The Indianapolis concert on Dec 14 is the best bet for me.

Edited by Tyler

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Christmas US Tour.

Sufjan Stevens will jingle-jangle his way across America, bringing yuletide cheer to your local music club, sharing reverent hymns and pop carols from his upcoming Christmas album Silver & Gold. “The Sirfjam Stephanapolous Christmas Sing-A-Long Seasonal Affective Disorder Spectacular Music Pageant Variety Show Distaster” will be a tragic-comedic feast for the ears and eyes. Sufjan will be joined by a 5-piece band (including Rosie Thomas, Nedelle Torrisi, Casey Foubert, James McAlister, and Ben Lanz) playing all the hits from both Christmas box sets. Send us your song requests!

That band is all-star center. Nearest concert is in Cleveland, though. Bah. Doing the late-night shuttle back to western PA is not a fun experience. (Thanks for posting this, Tyler.)

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Today's Washington City Paper ad for the 9:30 Club lists this event as "The Surfjohn Stevens Christmas Sing-A-Long Seasonal Affective Diosorder Yuletide Disaster Pageant On Ice."

"Surfjohn"? Also, "Stevens" instead of "Stephanapolous."

Shall I alert the authorities?

Edited by Christian

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