Thursday, October 12, 2006

Sufjan Stevens - By: Lezah Williamson

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I'm very, very excited to be going to see Sufjan Stevens this Saturday. The venue is somewhat unusual - a cathedral in Vancouver - but I'm sure the acoustics will be good, and the setting will certainly help to establish a tone for the evening.

I remember when I first read about Sufjan Stevens. It was in one of those list showing the top acts of the week: Pop, Hip hop, Rock, Indie, etc. I saw Sufjan Stevens at the top of the Indie list, and the name immediately caught my attention because it's just so darn unusual. It really got me thinking. And then, week after week after week, the name just stayed up there.

It was shortly afterwards that Dave was playing something in the car, and I was mesmerized by it: turns out it was Sufjan Steven's album, Illinois.

I looked up some information on Stevens, and it seems that he's a really interesting and productive guy. He's originally from the Detroit area, but now resides in New York City. He's a musician, singer, song writer and multi-instrumentalist. He records in a variety of places (apartments, churches) and has his own label, Asthmatic Kitty, which he started with his stepfather. In addition to doing his own music, he also works with the Danielson Family and was formerly in the band Marzuki (an aside: his brother, Marzuki, is a marathon runner currently in training for the 2008 Olympics). Although many people have tried to pinhole Stevens work as folkie indie pop, his work also has been influenced by jazz, electronica and minimalism..

Illinois is the first Stevens album I'd heard, and it's based on the state of Illinois. Previously, he had done an album on Michigan, and has a times claimed that he will produce an album for each of the 50 states. Illinois was the highest rated album in 2005 with Metacritic; it won the 2006 PLUG Indie Music Award for Album of the Year; it was also picked by Pitchfork (and many others) as the editor's choice Best Album of 2005.

On July 11, 2006, Stevens released The Avalanche, a compilation of 21 songs culled from Illinois. Later this year, he is to release an album called Songs for Christmas, which deals with both the sacred and the profane aspects of the holiday.

His last tour, from what I understand, involved a group of cheerleaders. This show will, I'm sure, offer something just as interesting. As I said before: I can't wait.

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