2011 Year in Review
Blue Whales
Christmas Carol
Duty to Object
Evenhanded Pursuit of Truth
Flood and Bush
Never There or Here
Review: Sufjan Stevens' Age of Adz
Space Flight
Success With Values
Terrible Kids Music
The Nineties
Year in Review
What is a Sufjan Stevens?

I must confess at the outset that I think Sufjan Stevens is a powerful artist and probably my favorite musician.  He is an outsider and yet widely loved and respected.  He maintains distance that has always made him seem fragile to me.  He is like a person who speaks softly, but with a heavy voice.  You stop to hear his perspective.  In addition, this gives me the feeling that Sufjan is my friend.  That if I saw him at a restaurant I could pull up a chair sit down and discuss big ideas as old friends.  This is as anti-rock star an element as I can think of.

Age of Adz does not blow this perception completely out of the water with the first song, “Futile Devices.”  Sufjan is still tender, vulnerable.  But quickly he puts up a layer of electronic resonance that moves to dissonance many times beginning in his second track.  This layer of electronic noise/music has replaced the varied musical instruments that accompany most of Stevens earlier work.  Though the instruments are still there, they do not play a starring role.

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Return of the King So, I think we are all agreed that Sufjan is pretty much the best.  Wheat, you touched on a lot of the reasons, and I’ll add a few of my own:

  1. He’s about as unlike a rock star (in all the right ways) as you can be.  You see pictures of him, and he’s wearing a t-shirt with a hole in it, and he looks like someone stole his comb, and he looks at you with his soulful eyes, and you just want to take him home and feed him some soup and tell him that everything’s going to be all right or something.  I mean, look at the guy:
  2. Can someone get this man a brush?
  3. And then there’s his tender, delicate, quavery, whispery voice, which is about unlike the powerfully, yawping vocal style that we’ve come to expect from our rock stars.  He’s the unapologetic un-rock star.
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Age of Adz Addendum

This post is a companion piece to the Age of Adz reviews previously posted. Name Your Own Sufjan Album As discussed in my last post, Sufjan has declared the official death of the “album for each of the 50 states” project. This should not come as a surprise. “I’m surprised that the most gifted songwriter of his generation refuses to mechanically grind out albums for each state of the union” is not a reasonable thing for you to have been saying, silly.

However, it is reasonable to be bummed out by this. “But now I’ll never hear a tender and heartbreaking song about the first time I saw my true love standing by the animatronic piano-playing gorilla at Wall Drug Store.” Very reasonable thing for you to say, anonymous resident of South Dakota.

Also, we will miss out on some awesome album names in the vein of Come On, Feel the Illinoise. So, as the saying goes, “when the going gets tough, the tough play a silly game in which they come up with album titles for the remaining unmade albums from a fictional 50-album song cycle for each of these United States.”* After the jump (I don’t really know what this means, but I read it in people’s blogs a lot and wanted to say it), some suggested awesome names for some of the Sufjan albums that will never be: * I’m pretty sure John Dryden coined that expression. Big Sufjan fan.

  1. Raiders of the Lost Arkansas
  2. What were you eating Delathere? Delaware?
  3. You, Yourself, and Utah
  4. I Can Call You Betty, and Betty When You Call Me, You Can Call Me Alabama
  5. And/Oregon
  6. Together, We Kansas
  7. I Bet That You Look Good On the Dance Florida.
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