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Sufjan Stevens?!? (update: interesting review)

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opus   
He's in concert tonight here in Chicago, but i'm home studying. I feel so grown up! tongue.gif

eek.gif

Oh sure, go ahead and gloat about it. I don't mind, not one bit. Nope. Not at all.

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opus   

Relevant just posted an interview. Which reminded me of another interview at Delusions Of Adequacy.

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Finally heard this one. I like it quite a bit. Very, very pretty. Nice to find a musician who understands the power of hushed, restrained, quiet songs-- it seems like most bands have forgotten about that.

I don't think "Sister" is particularly out of place musically, though I'm not quite sure what to make of the lyrics at this point. What's up with the bit about the fish stone and the jar full of his teeth and all that? Talk about an odd lyric... just who does this guy think he is? Michael Stipe?

"The Dress Looks Nice on You" seems thematically out of place, but maybe I just don't get it.

But, complaints aside, this is a very beautiful album. "To Be Alone With You" and "In the Devil's Territory" will probably pop up on every mix CD I make this year.

Great stuff.

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What in the world does "lake or lamb" refer to in "Abraham"?

What lake?

It really bugs me that that line always sounds like he's singing "leg o'lamb..."

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opus   

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opus   

Pitchfork just released their Top 50 Albums of 2004 and Seven Swans is #17.

In 2003, Sufjan Stevens got everybody riled thanks to the release of Greetings from Michigan: The Great Lakes State, a record tenuously built around his conflicted relationship to his home state, and the first in a purported series of 50 state-themed concept albums. But instead of leaping straight into Illinois, Stevens followed-up Michigan with the comparably quiet Seven Swans, a soft, lulling meditation on faith, friendship, and love. In a year where Christianity is becoming unfortunately (and inextricably) linked to horrifying right-wing fundamentalism, Seven Swans gingerly reaffirms the thoughtful tenets of faith-based living, without ever delving too far into dangerously didactic waters. Endearingly scrappy-- and without the swelling orchestral flourishes of Michigan-- Seven Swans is a sparse, intimate meditation, all banjo and whispers, promises, and fears. --Amanda Petrusich

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Seven Swans was also named one of the 25 best albums of the year by Mojo and Uncut, one of the 50 best albums of the year by New Musical Express and Q, along with making the top ten by one of the critics at The Onion. Assuming Sounds Familyre is a Christian label -- and I'm not sure it is -- Seven Swans is probably the most secularly acclaimed album on a Christian label ever.

Dale

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opus   
Seven Swans was also named one of the 25 best albums of the year by Mojo and Uncut, one of the 50 best albums of the year by New Musical Express and Q, along with making the top ten by one of the critics at The Onion.  Assuming Sounds Familyre is a Christian label -- and I'm not sure it is -- Seven Swans is probably the most secularly acclaimed album on a Christian label ever.

I think you could consider Sounds Familyre a "Christian" label. A quick perusal of their catalog includes Stevens, Woven Hand, Danielson, Soul-Junk, Half-Handed Cloud, etc. All of whom are pretty upfront about their beliefs.

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opus   

A friend just sent me a copy of his first two Christmas EPs. Haven't finished them yet, but his version of "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" is wonderful.

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: You mean he's talented AND beautiful to boot?

Don't love him because he's beautiful. Love him because he writes bunches of songs in 5/4 time.

Oh, and for those looking for 30 more top ten lists that Seven Swans is on, here.

Dale

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gigi   

Oh I do already. This is just the icing on the already too-sweet-for-my-own-good cake.

A girl has the right to fawn occasionally wub.gif

Edited by gigi

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Ah, Sufjan Stevens. I thought I loved "Michigan" until I finally

got a copy of "Seven Swans" last week. I can't get enough

of this guy. Intelligent lyrics, creative songwriting, incredible

musicianship. His albums melt into my inner being and won't

let me go.

I think we can love him both for his beauty AND his writing

in 5/4 time.

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opus   

Someone just e-mailed this link to me yesterday, which has a number of MP3s from his Christmas recordings. Excellent, excellent stuff. His versions of "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" are simply amazing.

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opus   
What about Year of the Rabbit? Anybody like that?

I do. Quite a bit, actually. Probably one of the more intriguing "electronica" albums I have, right up there with Tujiko Noriko's stuff.

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opus   

From Pitchfork...

When it comes to Sufjan Stevens' proposed 50 States project, incredulous smirks seem to be commonplace. Seriously, how could any one man release an album dedicated to each state in the union? That remains to be seen, but for now word is trickling in about Stevens' next 50 States record. Stevens' record label, Asthmatic Kitty, has announced that he will release an as yet untitled collection of songs about Illinois on July 5. The album isn't quite finished, so a tracklist would be premature, but there will be one song entitled "Chicago" and, in total, the record will feature 15 to 20 songs touching on such subjects as the Lincoln/Douglass debates, the Chicago Fire, the World's Columbian Exposition, and Wrigley's chewing gum. A few historical figures/characters that may end up being thrown into the blender of Stevens' imagination include poet Carl Sandburg, Black Hawk, Superman, and John Wayne Gacy.

Described as Sufjan's most ambitious record yet, the album implements more than 30 instruments and musicians, from the usual guitar and banjo to horns, string quartets, and a small choir. The album will feature several guests, such as James McAlister of Ester Drang, Shara Worden of AwRY and My Brightest Diamond, Craig Monturo of Volcano, I'm Still Excited!, and some production help from old cohort Daniel Smith of the Danielson Famile. However, the record was mostly self-produced in a Queens, N.Y. studio. Stevens will also more than likely continue his string of quality visual design by enlisting the assistance of Waking Life illustrator Divya Srinivasan.

As for the sound of the album, PR man Daniel Gill reports that, "One person I've talked to said, 'It's like the music at the Hall of Presidents at Disneyland, like really big and kind of patriotic sounding.' Sufjan really wanted to make it sound a little bit more polished and professional, but it's definitely more in the vein of Michigan than anything else."

Stevens will apparently mirror this folkish complexity by including two sets of tracklistings (which, again, we don't have on hand): The first will be included on the back of the album, while the second will be listed on the inside and will contain track titles stretching as far as three sentences long.

After the Illinois album, Sufjan will hit the road with labelmate Liz Janes in late July. And Gill predicts the Illinois record will not be the sum of Steven's recorded 2005 output, claiming that "by the end of this year" there will "probably" be another state album that will double as a christmas album. Seemingly relentless, Stevens is also bouncing around the idea of recording an EP for a smaller state. His PR went on to say they think the state records will continue to be produced for the indefinite future.

If all that artistic production wasn't enough, Stevens' label Asthmatic Kitty has already had a fairly busy year. San Diego favorites Bunky just released their debut Born to Be a Motorcycle, while once and future Stevens' road warrior John Ringhofer has just released his third album under the Half-Handed Cloud moniker, entitled Thy Is a Word and Feet Need Lamps. These two outfits will be joined by labelmates the Castanets on March 20 at SXSW opening up for Ariel Pink and Daniel Johnston. Unorthodox Christians and wacky lo-fi workhorses all under one roof.

Whee!!!

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