Tag Archives: Sufjan Stevens

Returning to Illinois


Can I interest you in a skull balloon, little boy?

“What’s the hell is this Charlie Brown shit?”, one of my friends asked while I was playing this CD in the car. Hard to think of a better description than that. I remember feeling a little embarrassed for liking this album, as it sometimes came off like a homework assignment (both in that it’s a history lesson and that it’s very long), and it had this mix of cuteness and fragility that sounded like it would be more at home in a Hyundai ad. Sufjan himself was like Zach Braff’s Garden State character come to life as a folk musician, a man flailing to set himself apart despite having a very natural talent. It seemed like he was trying to straddle that line between ironic distance and bare-hearted sincerity but it didn’t really work because nothing about the album was really all that funny. It was lavishly orchestrated and the band wore strange stage costumes and it all felt kinda like a put on. But none of that really mattered because the album was so good, in a way that was pretty obvious right from the start. You knew this thing was gonna wind up on everyone’s list for album of the year, if they were willing to look vulnerable for a second.  Yeah man, this is some Charlie Brown shit.  But I was really into it.
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2015 Year in Review (an excerpt)

This year in review is going to be a little different than my previous ones.  As always there’s tons of discussion about whether or not 2015 was a good year for music, always a fun discussion, but for me the answer is unquestionably yes.  New albums by a lot of my favorites, including Susumu Hirasawa, Echolyn, Rip Slyme, Magma, Glass Hammer, Dan Deacon, Flynt Flossy, Todd Rundgren, They Might be Giants (twice!), and Datarock (sort of), among other stuff I’m a fan of, like The Tangent, Dam-Funk, Steven Wilson, Sons of Kemet, Towa Tei, The Orb, Sufjan Stevens, The Black Dog, Beardfish, Battles, IZZ, and Squarepusher.  Among several others I can’t remember right now.  Now none of this is making the year-end lists, except of course the Sufjan album.  Sadly I’m not really able to make a list myself, as there’s just been so much good stuff that I haven’t really been able to digest it all, not that I’ve been able to the last couple years either.  I have no clue what my “album of the year” is going to be and probably won’t until we’re well into 2017.  It’s just been that sort of year.  So instead, I figured I’d put together some disparate thoughts on a few albums I’ve listened to this year and call it a day.  Year end lists are kinda dumb anyway.  So let’s get started:

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