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20 Aug 2010 13:05


Music: Sufjan Stevens (finally!) back with a brand-new release

  • Hey, it’s sufjan, everybody!Five years after his last real studio album comes this EP, which you can stream right here. It’s 60 minutes long, and you can download the whole thing for a mere $5. It’s like Christmas and the Easter Bunny combined! source

11 Jun 2010 11:24


Music: Thank the Lord. Sufjan Stevens is finally working on his next album

  • We’ve played on some of the tracks and been listening to some of the stuff as he’s been working on it. … It’s going to be incredible. It’s going to probably blow people’s minds.
  • The National’s Bryce Dessner • Revealing that Sufjan Stevens finally got off his butt and decided to start recording that new album, a whole five years after “Illinois” (and a whole year after we scolded him for keeping fans waiting). It’s not like he’s been quiet, though. He still runs his Asthmatic Kitty label, he’s done Christmas music, he released his “The BQE” art project last year, and he’s been a little too frank in interviews. No word on whether this will be another “state” album. source

24 Oct 2009 12:20


Music: Our Saturday Mixtape: Atlas Sound and Ben Gibbard cohabitate

  • 1. Bradford Cox is really one of a kind. The Deerhunter lead singer, who moonlights as Atlas Sound, really does a great job synthesizing really interesting ideas into his stew. Especially if, as in the case of “Walkabout,” that idea is Noah Lennox (Panda Bear) of Animal Collective. It’s a very Panda Bearish-sound, but built on of of those simple-but-awesome Deerhunter song structures.
    2. We admit to having an affinity for this broken twee sound, which Pens does a pretty good job of replicating on “I Sing Just For You.” It doesn’t really hold up over a whole album, but it’s nice in single-bite form.
    3. Sufjan Stevens went from recording really awesome albums about states to doing his best impression of the compositions from Final Fantasy VI (or Final Fantasy III if you’re a luddite who doesn’t know the series’ Japanese history). That description doesn’t give “The BQE” much credit – really, it’s great – but we hope he gets back to the 50 States Project soon.
    4. Ben Gibbard doesn’t have to do this. He’s already incredibly famous, and Death Cab For Cutie’s an interesting enough outlet that he doesn’t need another Postal Service-style offshoot to keep busy. But we appreciate his album of Jack Kerouac-inspired songs he did with Jay Farrar – it’s very much in the “Mermaid Avenue” mold. In a good way.
    5. It’s good to see our old friends Kings of Convenience showing up with a new album. We thought they were gone for good. A lot of people argue they need to expand their sound, but we think it’s perfect as-is, especially on “Me in You.” source

17 Oct 2009 14:16


Music: This week’s Saturday Mixtape covers some of 2004’s best tunes

OK, we're halfway through the naughts after this week. In case you haven't noticed, we've been going through some of our favorite songs of this decade, year-by-year, since August. Once every other week or so. This week, we hit 2004. (Want to hear the others? Click here: 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000)
  • 1. If we had to pick one song of the decade, this would be it. In four and a half minutes, The Walkmen’s “The Rat” nailed the unnecessary gravitas and self-seriousness that defined this decade. No other song has come close to best defining it.
    2. Animal Collective essentially did the opposite of what Radiohead did to become famous. Starting out as a strange, dense, openly experimental band, they found themselves making pop music by the beginning of 2009. We still heart 2004’s “Sung Tongs,” though, and “Who Could Win a Rabbit?” is the bridge between the two sounds.
    3. The Arcade Fire suffered greatly at the hands of overhype, like many other perfectly-good bands of the era – Bloc Party or Vampire Weekend, anyone? But they deserved every bit of the hype they got, especially on “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out).”
    4. The Streets – aka Mike Skinner – nailed the best album of his career in 2002 with “Original Pirate Material,” but as far as singles go, “Fit But You Know It” is easily his best. With that roughshod beat – the kind of beat that Lily Allen rides up the charts nowadays – backing a story of a drunk ticked about the unattainable hottie in front of him, it synthesizes the best of Skinner’s sound and storytelling.
    5. The great secret of Sufjan Stevens’ “Seven Swans” – an album openly loaded with religious imagery – was that you didn’t need to be Christian to be deeply affected by it. “The Transfiguration” is beautiful on its own terms, but not without questioning its listener: “Consider what he says to you, consider what’s to come.” source

26 Sep 2009 11:10


Music: Sufjan Stevens says something that strikes fear in our hearts

  • I’m at a point where I no longer have a deep desire to share my music with anyone, having spent many years imparting my songs to the public. … I now feel something personal is irrevocably lost in this process.
  • Sufjan Stevens • In an interview he did with Shannon Stephens, a former bandmate of his who’s releasing her first album in a decade on his label, Asthmatic Kitty. He was doing the interview, but he said something more poignant than anything she said. We could be misunderstanding, but it sounds like Stevens has little interest in keeping up the Fifty States Project based on this statement. Gah! • source

01 Aug 2009 19:02


Music: Saturday mixtape: Considering musical activism, post-Obama

Activism needs a direction. As music fans, we've noticed a severe decline in politically-inclined tunes in recent months. Barack Obama's election drew huge support from the indie rock community, but with him in office, it's in need of a reboot. We have some thoughts, in mixtape form.
  • 1. Looking outward: A few years ago, Ted Leo pulled off a neat trick with “The Ballad of the Sin Eater,” turning in solid commentary of America’s place in the world during the height of the Bush era. With the Iranian election still fresh, it’s a line of thought in need of reevaluation.
    3. Questioning the spiritual: Fucked Up’s “The Chemistry Of Common Life ” was an amazing, vitriolic statement on spirituality, with “Twice Born” playing centerpiece. From Sufjan Stevens to The Thermals, religion plays a huge role on both sides of this debate.
    3. From the outside in: M.I.A.’s done more to bring radical politics to the mainstream than any other modern musician – especially the Sri Lanka conflict. Songs like “Sunshowers” excel at exposing audiences to political opinions outside of guy-with-a-guitar rhetoric.
    4. Indifference: Not having an opinion is still an opinion. Cass McCombs analyzes the nature of indifference with “Don’t Vote,” which plays like a modern “Okie from Muskogee.”
    5. Going conservative: If you look around the internet for the phrase “republican indie rock,” you’ll be surprised at how little shows up. Cold War Kids may be the best example of a well-known indie band whose lyrical politics lean towards conservatism. As Obama’s poll numbers decline, could we see more of this? source

10 Jul 2009 18:06


Music: Update: Sufjan Stevens is (kinda) coming back (but not really)

  • State No. 3? Nope. Try reworked 1st album. Oh, Sufjan, how you tease us. Just a week ago, we were begging – no, pleading! – for your return to indie pop’s most famous serial novel. Well, this week, you showed back up, yeah, but you’re announcing the release of a reworked version of your first album, “Enjoy Your Rabbit.” “Run Rabbit Run,” the reworked album, will be reimagined by Osso, who’s helped Stevens in the past. OK dude, appreciated, but it’s no “Alaska”, which we’re sure will feature that destined classic, “Oh Sarah, You Media Showoff (the Ballad of Wasilla, A Stop on the Bridge to Nowhere).” source

04 Jul 2009 23:29


Music: Dear Sufjan Stevens: The world needs you. Where are you?


27 Mar 2009 14:17


Music: Hip-hop mashed up with Sufan Stevens’ “Illinois”? Color us intrigued.

Producer Tor managed to find a way to make the hip-hop remix album interesting again. Good for him! source

02 Mar 2009 20:41


Music, Offbeat: The key to genius: Listening to Beethoven. Or Sufjan Stevens.

Virgil Griffith compared SAT scores and your favorite bands. Sufjan is for nerds. source