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Lots of Streaming Sufjan
August 30, 2010 11:07 AM   Subscribe

Out of the blue, Sufjan Stevens, most famous for his epic indie symphony Illinois (which can be streamed from this link), released an "EP" called All Delighted People. It's 60 minutes long, you can play it all online for free, and the title track is a deliriously gorgeous 12-minute epic. He's also announced an upcoming new album, scheduled for release this October, called The Age of Adz. You can stream its first single, I Walked.

While you're at it, you should also give a listen to The BQE, his orchestral tribute to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Movements III and IV are particularly choice. And I'm sure you know this, but if you can't get enough of Illinois he released an extra 21 tracks from its recording under the name The Avalanche.
posted by Rory Marinich (52 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thanks for bringing this to my attention! That's an awful lot of music. :D

Relatedly: I love this video of Sufjan Stevens playing "The Lakes of Canada" by The Innocence Mission.
posted by bewilderbeast at 11:12 AM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not to be picky, but isn't it called "Illinoise"?
posted by emilyd22222 at 11:13 AM on August 30, 2010


I was just listening to "All Delighted People" this morning and both the 11 minute epic and much shorter "classic rock" version are good listens. There was really sort of no advance warning that he had an album coming out anytime soon. A few people made oblique references to it, but having this "EP" (at 59 minutes long, put a heavy stress on the "E") suddenly available was a nice surprise.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:16 AM on August 30, 2010


Considering that's Sufjan's official Bandcamp and there it's called Illinois, I feel pretty sure that's the album's official name. In my iTunes, of course, it's labeled "Sufjan Stevens Invites You To: Come On Feel The Illinoise", as is proper.

And the second track is labeled 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 Th", and will remain so until iTunes expands its track names just enough to fit the rest of the title. This is just the way things are done.

I also want to quickly express my appreciation for Bandcamp, which is the single best site for musicians I've ever used. Streamlined, generous to listeners, makes buying things really easy.
posted by Rory Marinich at 11:17 AM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not to be picky, but isn't it called "Illinoise"?

This is a question of serious dispute. I think the side of the jewel case says 'Illinois' but the front says 'Sufjan Stevens Invites You To Come On Feel the Illinoise.'
posted by shakespeherian at 11:18 AM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


This one time, at bandcamp, I listened to a lot of music and it was great.
posted by kmz at 11:19 AM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pffft, this band sucks. And consider me authoritative, 'cause like I'm strumming a guitar rite now, and I'm in a band. And once I was at this bar and this girl that I was sure was Annie Clark was there and I was going to give her my number, but never worked up the nerve to, but this other time I did get my picture taken with Kim Gordon.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:23 AM on August 30, 2010


Thanks for the heads up - this'll be my soundtrack for the next few days. Healthy length for an EP too.
posted by slimepuppy at 11:23 AM on August 30, 2010


And consider me authoritative, 'cause like I'm strumming a guitar rite now, and I'm in a band.

Hey have I ever told you about the time that I'm actually Tom Waits?
posted by shakespeherian at 11:25 AM on August 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


Illinois might be the better known, but Michigan is the better album.
posted by triceryclops at 11:25 AM on August 30, 2010 [9 favorites]


At this rate he'll never get to Delaware.
posted by I Foody at 11:25 AM on August 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


Illinois might be the better known, but Michigan is the better album.

Seven Swans is still the best Sufjan Stevens album.

At this rate he'll never get to Delaware.

The 50 States project has been abandoned, from what I've read, which is a shame because I wanted to hear an ambient noisedrone w/ polka-syncopated chewing noises named after San Diego.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:26 AM on August 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


Also check out his experimental electronic album, Enjoy Your Rabbit. It's good.
posted by naju at 11:28 AM on August 30, 2010


Yeah, hate to hate, but I was really looking forward to the sweaty, fervent release of a new 'states' album every few months from Sufjan. All this diddling around with EPs, side projects, and b-sides... poh.

That said, thanks for the links! Music queued!
posted by carsonb at 11:29 AM on August 30, 2010


Enjoy Your Rabbit took like 4 listens and 6 years before I came around to liking it. If you're used to loving Illinoise or Seven Swans it might come as a rude shock. Now, as long as we're pimping obscure Sufjan Stevens projects, allow me to recommend Done Gone Fire by Liz Janes. D/L that track "Proposition", it's sexy.
posted by carsonb at 11:32 AM on August 30, 2010


That orchestral CD sure was a buzz-killer, eh?
posted by smackfu at 11:37 AM on August 30, 2010


♥ Liz Janes
posted by shakespeherian at 11:39 AM on August 30, 2010


I've gotta confess that almost everything Sufjan has done feels grating and cloy.

But everything fell in place on Illinois(e) - I love that album, cloyness and all. And I keep checking in on what he's done in hopes something else he's made clicks.

So thanks for the heads up. I'll see if this works too.
posted by ardgedee at 11:43 AM on August 30, 2010


I'd like to throw props to my buddy Gabriel Kahane, who wrote the lovely string parts on the title track.
posted by pineappleheart at 11:45 AM on August 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've gotta confess that almost everything Sufjan has done feels grating and cloy.

You are forgiven. Ten bloody marys and ten how's your fathers.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:48 AM on August 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


My friends and I spent some time theorizing how Sufjan would approach the other 48 albums in the 50 states series.

We spent a lot of time talking about how he could do a Connecticut using some of Charles Ives' musical techniques, or a Louisiana that took advantage of the rich musical traditions of New Orleans, or a Utah album featuring the Mormon Tabernacle Choir as special guests. Oh, or a New York steeped in Berlin and Copland. Swoons.

All of our conversations resolved with the acknowledgment that there isn't anything especially Michigany or Illinoisy about the actual music on those albums - beyond the lyrical references. This doesn't diminish how much we like those albums, but it led us to wonder how constrained one would feel writing lyrics about states based almost entirely on Google searches about the history of those states.

Basically, he most likely made the right choice to move on.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:57 AM on August 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Obligatory: the amazing Illinoize.
posted by neushoorn at 11:57 AM on August 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sufjan Stevens covers The Magnetic Fields' "You are the Blood" from the Dark is the Night compilation. Features heavy glitchery, soaring vocals, extended awesome piano solo.
posted by cyphill at 12:00 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I really want to hear Sufjan Stevens cover Elton John's '(Gotta Get A) Meal Ticket' for some reason.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:02 PM on August 30, 2010


I was wowed by "All Delighted People" when I saw him play it in September -- and I'm (dare I say it?) delighted it's made it to record. Lovely!
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 12:05 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is it too much to ask for a studio recording of Majesty Snowbird?

His performance of this at the Kennedy Center in 2007 with the National Symphony Orchestra is easily the best piece of music I've ever seen performed live. It's a crying shame that no good recording exists of the performance, or that he hasn't performed in a similar setting since then. Most of the songs performed had been specifically rearranged to take advantage of the big orchestra, and incredible acoustics of the room. The beginning notes of "Concerning the UFO Sighting" (immediately followed by "Sister") and the spontaneous guitar solo in "Majesty Snowbird" sent chills up my spine.

Yes. I'm geeking out about a concert a full 3 years after the fact. It was that good. You're less of a person for having not seen it.
posted by schmod at 12:07 PM on August 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


I has tix for his show in LA in October (first time seeing him.) But I fear for the electronic nature of the new release. I hated Enjoy Your Rabbit.

Listening to "I Walked," I'm inclined to fear a little less. Plus, kinda excited that The National appears on the new record.
posted by eyeballkid at 12:12 PM on August 30, 2010


Addendum: I also saw him in NYC last fall. Something about the performance felt incredibly "off." The same guy who I saw perform a magnificent symphony in front of a packed opera house had a crippling case of stagefright in a tiny venue. Some of the new songs he performed were just odd.

Also, an absurdly disrespectful crowd. One guy shouted "FUCK YEAH!" when he started playing "Casimir Pulaski Day" (a heartfelt memoir about a friend lost to cancer).
posted by schmod at 12:13 PM on August 30, 2010


Based on the one Stevens concert I've attended as well as numerous reports from friends, he indeed has tremendous stage fright and, at least at the show I went to, was so nervous that after the first couple songs he applauded along with the audience because he couldn't figure out what else to do with himself.

it was ADORABLE
posted by shakespeherian at 12:25 PM on August 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


So this is Sufjan Stevens. He's talented but I would like to hear his material produced...differently.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:37 PM on August 30, 2010


That orchestral CD sure was a buzz-killer, eh?

Are you talking about the BQE thing? Because it really works well as the soundtrack to the film that goes with it. Nothing groundbreaking - a kind of local splitscreen Koyaanisqaatsi, with occasional cheerleaders and hula hoops - but it has some neat twisted moments and fun little climaxes if you let yourself relax into it.
posted by mediareport at 12:45 PM on August 30, 2010


Is it too much to ask for a studio recording of Majesty Snowbird ?

Seriously! It kills me that I can only listen to that gorgeous song on concert recordings which are usually of very poor quality. Sufjan is such a tease sometimes.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 12:54 PM on August 30, 2010


This All Delighted People thing is interesting and different. I'm not sure if it's my cuppa in the long run, but he's up to something here. I hope that on payday I can remember this post & pony up my $5.00 US for a closer listen.
posted by Devils Rancher at 1:05 PM on August 30, 2010



Based on the one Stevens concert I've attended as well as numerous reports from friends, he indeed has tremendous stage fright and, at least at the show I went to, was so nervous that after the first couple songs he applauded along with the audience because he couldn't figure out what else to do with himself.


Wow, that sounds so unlike when I first saw him in 2005. I guess it was a show with about 100 people back then, but the whole thing was very theatrical and professional.

I'm not a huge fan of All Delighted People. I've only managed to listen to the EP once and it seemed so overly baroque that I wasn't tempted to listen again. I Walked is another matter, a shimmeringly addictive electronic number. I also didn't like Enjoy Your Rabbit, but this has the best of that electronic talent + great vocals/lyrics that he is famous for.
posted by melissam at 1:07 PM on August 30, 2010


I too was kind of disappointed in the 50 States project being called off, but in the back of my mind I always knew it was probably unsustainable, especially for an artist who is suddenly getting a lot of love from the indie rock media and is probably feeling pressured to release something with broader appeal.

That said, I always wondered if the idea for the project was sort of loosely inspired by the numerous geography-specific entries in the American Music Club discography
posted by squeakyfromme at 1:11 PM on August 30, 2010


Wow, that sounds so unlike when I first saw him in 2005. I guess it was a show with about 100 people back then, but the whole thing was very theatrical and professional.

This was in 2005, actually. Not sure how many people were at the show, but it was at a fairly small venue in northern San Diego county-- maybe 250?
posted by shakespeherian at 1:23 PM on August 30, 2010


Hey have I ever told you about the time that I'm actually Tom Waits?

Wow, when I read that, I even mentally heard it in the Waits voice.
posted by FatherDagon at 1:52 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm still sad I didn't receive more accolades for my superb Tom Waits impression.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:13 PM on August 30, 2010


I enjoy Enjoy Your Rabbit. The rest I respect, but never listen to.
posted by everichon at 3:10 PM on August 30, 2010


Everyone is posting about how they saw him in 2005, and I read it and thought, wow, that was way before I was interested in him. And then it turns out that Illinois came out in 2005. And I saw him a couple of times when he was touring for that album.

How can that be 2005?! That's five years ago.
posted by smackfu at 4:13 PM on August 30, 2010


One day I hope to be wealthy enough to pay my favorite musicians to cover whichever songs they choose. Sort of like late Mark Twain, when he became the plaything of the idle rich

(joke stolen from either John Linnell or John Flansburgh, I can't remember).
posted by craniac at 4:53 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you like Sufjan Stevens and Hip-hop there's Illinoize which is hip hop remixed with tracks from Illinoise. The first track with Aesop Rock is epic.
posted by delmoi at 4:56 PM on August 30, 2010


If you like Sufjan Stevens and Hip-hop there's Illinoize which is hip hop remixed with tracks from Illinoise. The first track with Aesop Rock is epic.

Metermaids did something like that too.
posted by eyeballkid at 5:28 PM on August 30, 2010


No love for A Sun Came? And in particular, "Dumb I Sound"?
posted by jackrational at 6:14 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


jackrational-- I agree, A Sun Came is pretty fantastic. A Loverless Bed (Without Remission) has the #1 play count on my iTunes (and Dumb I Sound is probably my second favorite on that album).

Thanks for this, Rory Marinich. I haven't gotten a chance to hear the EP yet, but that's mostly because I can't stop listening to "I Walked".
posted by randomname25 at 7:38 PM on August 30, 2010


Stevens covers The Magnetic Fields' "You are the Blood "

You Are The Blood is a Castanets song.

I also looked for Majesty Snowbird in the tracklist. I was in love with that tune when I first heard it.
posted by JohnMarston at 8:10 PM on August 30, 2010


I've been listening to the All Delighted People EP for a few weeks now and am in love with it. With the exception of Enjoy Your Rabbit I've loved everything he has done. I saw him live in 2007 and the show was fantastic, but it also means there'll be another long wait until he is down here again. Watching him perform is one of my most cherished memories, it was amazing to watch him (and his crew) get so into the music.

Do you love me from the top of your heart?
posted by liquorice at 3:25 AM on August 31, 2010


So I'm totally enjoying the bandcamp site and the excellent music (because Sufjan has been on my heart list since Illinois, but he totally dropped off my radar), but are there volume controls on that site? I have the internal volume of my computer as low as it gets without muting, but it's still way too loud...
posted by This Guy at 4:34 AM on August 31, 2010


Is it too much to ask for a studio recording of Majesty Snowbird?

Holy Haleakala, I hadn't heard that song before now. That's incredible.
posted by dnash at 7:52 AM on August 31, 2010


The new EP is great, and I'm excited for the Age of Adz. I think my favorite track on the EP is Djohariah; the title track gets all the love for being just absolutely sprawling, but something about the last five minutes of Djohariah, that... release after eleven (awesome) minutes of guitar noodling, Iunno, it's just made for me.
posted by JimBennett at 9:42 AM on August 31, 2010



You Are The Blood is a Castanets song.


Absolutely right, my bad.
posted by cyphill at 10:16 AM on August 31, 2010


This is freakin' great. thanks.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:20 AM on September 6, 2010


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