Sufjan Stevens - Illinois [2005]

Feel the Illinoise.
musicmonkey
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Sufjan Stevens - Illinois [2005]

Unread postby musicmonkey » Sat Jul 09, 2005 2:08 pm

Sufjan Stevens
Album: Illinois

Sufjan Stevens' Illinois gets a 9.2

Although the release date is now delayed, Pitchfork gave Illinois a 9.2 today. Sufjan Stevens is now in the lead with the highest Pitchfork score of the year. Read <a href="http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/record-reviews/s/stevens_sufjan/illinois.shtml">Pitchfork Media</a> review.

Like the self-proclaimed "Spiderman" who climbed Chicago's Sears Tower with no harness, Sufjan Stevens scales dusty prairies, steel factories, and two hundred years of history in the second installment of his 50 State Project, "ILLINOIS", a 22-track anthematic tone poem to The Prairie State.

An engrossing musical road trip, "Illinois" takes you through ghost towns, grain mills, hospital rooms, and the City of Broad Shoulders, with guest appearances by a poet, a president, a serial murderer, UFOs, Superman, the goat that cursed the Cubs, and Decatur's famous Chickenmobile. Sufjan weaves variegated musical styles (jazz, funk, pop, folk, and Rodgers and Hammerstein-like flourishes) and the textures of 25 instruments into a tapestry of persons and places famous, infamous, iconic and anonymous. Invoking the muse of poet Carl Sandburg, "Illinois" ushers in trumpets on parade, string quartets, female choruses and ambient piano scales arranged around Stevens' emerging falsetto.

Label: Asthmatic Kitty

Track Listing:

  1. Concerning the UFO sighting near Highland, Illinois
  2. The Black Hawk War, or, How To Demolish An Entire Civilization and Still Feel Good About Yourself in the Morning, or, We Apologize for the Inconvenience But You're Going To Have To Leave Now, or, "I have fought the Big Knives and will continue to fight them till they are off our lands!"
  3. Come On! Feel the Illinoise! / Part I: The World's Columbian Exposition / Part II: Carl Sandburg Visits Me In A Dream
  4. John Wayne Gacy, Jr.
  5. Jacksonville
  6. A short reprise for Mary Todd, who went insane, but for very good reasons
  7. Decatur, or, Round of Applause for Your Step-Mother!
  8. One last "Whoo-hoo!" for the Pullman
  9. Chicago
  10. Casimir Pulaski Day
  11. To The Workers of The Rock River Valley Region, I have an idea concerning your predicament, and it involves an inner tube, bath mats, and 21 able-bodied men
  12. The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts
  13. Prairie Fire That Wanders About
  14. A conjunction of drones simulating the way in which Sufjan Stevens has an existential crisis in the Great Godfrey Maze
  15. The Predatory Wasp of The Palisades Is Out To Get Us
  16. They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back From the Dead!! Ahhhh!
  17. Let's hear that string part again, because I don?t think they heard it all the way out in Bushnell
  18. In This Temple As in The Hearts of Man For Whom He Saved The Earth
  19. The Seer's Tower
  20. The Tallest Man, the Broadest Shoulders / Part I: The Great Frontier / Part II: Come to Me Only With Playthings Now
  21. Riffs and Variations on a single note for Jelly Roll, Earl Hines, Louis Armstrong, Baby Dodds, and the King of Swing, to name a few
  22. Out of Egypt, into the Great Laugh of Mankind, and I shake the dirt from my sandals as I run
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Sufjan Stevens - Visionaries Impacting Culture

Unread postby musicmonkey » Fri Sep 09, 2005 2:45 pm

Sufjan Stevens is one of Relevant's 12 visionaries impacting culture through faith in 2005.

"Ambitious and creative, Sufjan Stevens is the new artist that everyone's talking about...or at least should. See how his awe for God drives him to create his distinctive sound."
- Relevant Magazine

<img src="/media/photos/sufjan_relevant.jpg" alt="" align="left" hspace="20" vspace="20" /><br clear="all" />

"He's a songwriter with an ambitious goal of penning an album after every state in America. More impressive than that is the profound awe he has for God and His creation."
- Relevant Magazine

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Unread postby musicmonkey » Wed Dec 28, 2005 10:38 am

Illinois is the Number 1 album of 2005!

"For Christian artists like Stevens, the divide between sacred and secular is not only obsolete—it never existed in the first place."

The Village Voice wrote:Scornful though one may be of Stevens's beliefs that "classical music" is "high art" and Christ Jesus died for our sins, it would be rigid in the extreme to deny his melodicism. There's not an unattractive tune on a record rife with counterpoint and interlude; musically, it's so inspired—and because it does its appointed work simply and unhurriedly, so unpretentious—that nonbelievers had better accept that he's getting over on talent, not talk. Religion arises mainly in the immensely touching, and unorchestrated, "Casimir Pulaski Day," where the cancer death of a teen love occasions something resembling doubt. The historically inclined may object that Steven's portrait of the great state of Abraham Lincoln and Ozzie Guillen is impressionistic to the point of whimsy, and I myself would die a smidgen happier if I never heard another song about a mass murderer. But this album radiates positive energy, and in today's alt, that's a precious thing. A MINUS


"Art is... a reflection of a greater divine creation. There really is no separation... There's a fullness of being in the world that takes into consideration the supernatural and the natural, and everything we do and say is evoking and expressing eternal things without even knowing it." - Sufjan Stevens

Russ Breimeier of Christianity Today wrote:"In the Tower above the earth there is a view that reaches far/Where we cede the universe/I see the fire, I see the end/Seven miles above the earth, there is Emmanuel of Mothers/With His sword, with His robe, He comes dividing man from brothers."—from the Revelation themed "The Seer's Tower"

"Alternative" is an admittedly overbroad and overused term, but in reference to music that is truly different from the norm, the word is more than appropriate to describe the music of Sufjan Stevens. His latest, Illinois, comes as a welcome respite for music journalists during a summer drought of artistic stimulation. And considering that Stevens is relatively open about his Christian beliefs—2004's Seven Swans included clear-cut songs about Abraham and Christ's Transfiguration—it's rather impressive that he's now earning universal acclaim in mainstream publications such as Rolling Stone, Spin, and Entertainment Weekly.

Are casual references to Christianity enough to make a song spiritual in message? Conversely, are songs that don't use biblical language necessarily unchristian if an outspoken Christian wrote them? This is an album that will challenge your personal definition of music both alternative and Christian. Stevens has explored his faith more explicitly on other albums - here it's relatively diffused amid the storytelling and state references. Though Illinois is at times beyond comprehension both musically and lyrically, it nevertheless remains a creative joy.


In Secular, Sacred, or Both, Kate Bowman wrote:[Sufjan Stevens] is a Christian college graduate. His lyrics are explicitly confessional. Mainstream critics agree that if the lyrics on his Seven Swans CD (2004) were sung by anyone else, they'd belong on a worship album or as the rallying cry at a youth group jamboree. Stevens seems like a shoo-in for CCM stardom. Yet he never caught the notice of the industry's executives—let alone that it never even occurred to Stevens to darken the doorstep of Nashville offices or studios. He dove headfirst into the gritty New York music scene, and emerged, to everyone's surprise, as the darling of the same indie rock critics who generally disdain such overtly religious lyricism.

What drew Stevens to the world beyond Christian music labels? Surely it was more than the creative freedom often lacking in CCM publishing—although Stevens' occasionally morbid subject matter and unusual performance-art leanings might have been considered off-putting, in the same way that Flannery O'Connor would have had a difficult time getting her novels published by the Christian Booksellers Association.

Ultimately, this movement among Christian artists like Stevens is a theological one, linked to the same factors that brought about Masen and Mallonee's forays into the wild of independent music: a refusal to separate one's faith from one's involvement in the world at large, and a recognition that although the entire creation is broken, God's grace and truth continue to permeate all spheres of life.

In other words, for Christian artists like Stevens, the divide between sacred and secular is not only obsolete—it never existed in the first place.

"Christian music" need not be limited to songs that explicitly mention God or make overtly evangelistic appeals. A Pitchfork Media critic who reviewed Sufjan Stevens observed that Seven Swans "deals with the stories of his Christian faith most directly. Which is not to say that Michigan [Stevens' previous release] and its tales of personal grief and acceptance of one's suffering were any less Christian in ethos." To my knowledge this writer is not a Christian, but in that final sentence he captures the premise from which many believing musicians outside the CCM industry write: the whole of life is available to believers as the substance of art. Simply because it does not overtly confess Christ does not mean it is exempt from possessing truth.

musicmonkey
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Unread postby musicmonkey » Mon Apr 03, 2006 1:29 am

Without a Prayer
Like other religious artists before him, Sufjan Stevens puts his faith in craft. Stevens bemoans the decline of popular music and struggles to mediate the gap he sees between high art and folk.
http://www.villagevoice.com/music/0532, ... 65,22.html

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ILLINOIS OUTTAKES

Unread postby musicmonkey » Thu Apr 06, 2006 10:09 pm

ILLINOIS OUTTAKES

The little secret behind the Illinois record is that it was originally conceived as a double album, culminating in a musical collage of nearly 50 songs. But as the project began to develop into an unwieldy epic, common sense weighed in—as did the opinions of others—and the project was cut in half. [Full Story]

  1. The Avalanche
  2. Dear Mr Supercomputer [MP3]
  3. Adlai Stevenson
  4. The Vivian Girls Are Visited In the Night by Saint Dargarius and his Squadron of Benevolent Butterflies
  5. Chicago (acoustic version)
  6. The Henney Buggy Band [MP3]
  7. Saul Bellow
  8. Carlyle Lake
  9. Springfield, or Bobby Got a Shadfly Caught in his Hair
  10. The Mistress Witch from McClure (or, The Mind That Knows Itself)
  11. Kaskaskia River
  12. Chicago (adult contemporary easy listening version)
  13. Inaugural Pop Music for Jane Margaret Byrne
  14. No Man's Land
  15. The Palm Sunday Tornado Hits Crystal Lake
  16. The Pick-up
  17. The Perpetual Self, or "What Would Saul Alinsky Do?"
  18. For Clyde Tombaugh
  19. Chicago (Multiple Personality Disorder version)
  20. Pittsfield
  21. The Undivided Self (for Eppie and Popo)


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