Saturday, April 25, 2009

Album Comparison: Sufjan Stevens

So here I am again.

Comparison. Which album is better?

Sufjan Stevens' Michigan or Come On! Feel the Illinoise!?

You've probably heard Sufjan (pronounced Soof-yan) before. He's been feautured on the Little Miss Sunshine soundtrack, he's been on Austin City Limits (he's the guy with his entire group wearing wings), and has seven albums dating back to 2000. He decided that he was actually going to have an album for all 50 states, but, only Michigan and Illinois came out of the idea. He also has Avalanche!, the outtakes from Come On! Feel the Illinois!
Frankly, all of his albums are great, with a soft, folk/indie-like sound and some of the best lyrics I've ever heard. His songs are a little odd, but his charming collaboration with a gentle, yet upbeat chorus and numerous instruments never fails to get stuck in your head. (The l
yrics are a little hard to memorize though. Be prepared to simply hum.)

So, we'll start with Illinoise.
On the album, there's a variety of songs, the popular Chicago, to the sad and
poetic John Wayne Gacy Jr. (really depressing, yet beautifully put together.) Several of the songs on the album are very happy, though; each instrument getting its time, all being placed in each song, at just the right moment, to come up with an inspiring and thoughtful musical experience.

In my favorite song off the album, Vito's Ordination Song, Sufjan does an incredible job
of putting the song together, coming up with just the right amount of each instrument included, pulling the song to a nice, simple beat, with smooth, light vocals. The majority of the songs on the album are much calmer than on Illioise, and, though sweet, can easily be tuned out if you're focusing. Michigan (the album, not the state.) is a great listen, but can easily be placed in the background music. Don't let that fact stop you, though. The album also includes For the Widows In Paradise, for the Fatherless in Ypsilianti, which, though still a little quiet, is unique in it's folk-y, eclectic instrument choices.

So, after returning to the albums, I've decided that Come On! Feel the Illinoise is probably a better listen, with its ability to both inspire and keep you listening through the entire album. Michigan is great, don't get me wrong, it's great to have a calmer listen every once in awhile, whether it be while you're working or just for pleasure.

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Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Decemberists

New Post!!! Finally, right? And... Here. We. Go.

The Decemberists- The Hazards of Love

I have yet to listen to the entire album, but from what I've heard, it's great. In fact, the Decemberists have managed to pull me into their songs many a time, yet, I have to say, the Hazards of Love might just be one of those few CDs that manages to get you singing along or tapping your foot less than a minute in.

If you have yet to listen to the Decemberists, I highly suggest you pick up The Crane Wife. The Hazards of Love is good, but, in my opinion, the Crane Wife beats all others. In the album, you'll hear songs on the Japanese folktale upon which a man falls in love with a crane/woman, gets married, and eventually betrays her. (That was a terribly summary- why don't you read the story here.)
So anyways, the Decemberists have a very folk-y sound to them, think Death Cab For Cutie meets the Mountain Goats. The lyrics are amazing, very meaningful, if you like that stuff; the vocals don't take up all the songs, though. The other instruments also get their time, don't worry.

So, check them out.

I'll be back soon with another post, it might be awhile. Until then, watch this for me? It'll make you feel better, really.