Update: the stop-motion Lego video is at the bottom.
“Happy Holidays! On November 13, 2012, Asthmatic Kitty Records will release (another!) Christmas box-set extravaganza by the implacable singer/songwriter Sufjan Stevens—Silver & Gold: Songs for Christmas, Vols. 6-10, a compilation of 5 EPs recorded between 2006 and 2010.
Expanding on the tradition of the first box-set (Songs for Christmas, Vols. 1-5 from 2006), Silver & Gold is a generous document of five more years of holly-jolly jubilee — Christmas caroling, sleigh-bell-ringing, collaborative songwriting — undertaken by Sufjan and his various musical cohorts. Originally intended as gifts for family and friends, these musical snapshots have been re-mixed and re-assembled for the public in an exquisitely-designed gift box containing all the Yuletide pleasures money can buy: Christmas stickers, temporary tattoos, lyric sheets and chord charts, a paper ornament, an apocalyptic pull-out poster, photos, illustrations, and extensive liner notes—a veritable Christmas feast for the eyes and ears.
The album features collaborations with a running line-up of friends and musical peers, including Aaron and Bryce Dessner (The National), Richard Reed Parry (Arcade Fire), Cat Martino (Sufjan’s right-hand woman on all things Age of Adz), Sebastian Krueger (Inlets), Gabriel Kahane, Vesper Stamper, and members of Danielson (Daniel, Elin, Lilly, and Ida). Sufjan’s own indelible aesthetic and his tireless oblique strategies (in vain pursuit of the perfect Christmas song) maintain the album’s center of gravity, resulting in an abundant compilation (nearly 60 tracks) that investigates the canon of devotional hymns and holiday pop songs with reckless abandon (totaling nearly three hours of music).
Silver & Gold surpasses its predecessor both in style and scope by taking a wider stance and embracing a more liberal ethos. The box-set sails through musical fashions as various as ornaments on a Christmas tree (covering songs from John Dowland to Johnny Marks). The folksy old-world renaissance of Gloria (Vol. 6) gives way to bi-polar impertinence on I Am Santa’s Helper (Vol. 7). Christmas Infinity Voyage (Vol. 8) looks to the cosmos (and the drum machine) for inspiration, while Let It Snow (Vol. 9) and Christmas Unicorn (Vol.10) show a giddy return to form, unselfconsciously reveling in all the bubble-gum show tunes from the 1950s and 60s (“A Holly Jolly Christmas,” “Sleigh Ride,” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” to name a few).
There are also 18 original songs intermixed throughout (some of them co-written or wholly composed by guest collaborators). Sufjan’s contribution to the Christmas canon exhibits an ever-expanding canopy of approaches: there’s the moody and affectionate Christmas ballad (“Happy Karma Christmas”), an ecclesiastical take on the Burl Ives classic “Silver & Gold” (re-titled here as “Justice Delivers Its Gift”), the rowdy, garage-rock, rumble-in-the-snow-bank (“Mr. Frosty Man”) and the psychedelic pop-anthem (“Christmas Unicorn”) that attempts to reconcile new age magic, fantasy fiction, and the commodification of Christmas with expository deftness.
Silver & Gold is more than just another Christmas album, but an ongoing exercise in theme and variation, an annual tradition that offers this songwriter a chance to experiment with fashion and technique without taking himself too seriously. Sufjan’s playful (yet purposeful) expedition through the superficial landscape of sugar plum fairies and marshmallow fluff has produced an exuberant musical account of “all things Christmas” in the pursuit of the sublime. What distinguishes this project from the glut of Christmas albums saturating the market today are Sufjan’s unguarded enthusiasm for the genre itself (the sense of freedom he shows in celebrating with reverence and rebellion) and the belief that Christmas music contains a multiplicity of sacred and secular significance (from Baby Jesus to Babes in Toyland) that is ultimately ours for the taking. It’s safe to say that no one has taken it further than Sufjan, for better and for worse.
Thanks for listening and may all your Christmas dreams come true.
Silver & Gold will be available in digital download, a CD box-set available November 13th, with a limited edition of 2000 vinyl box-sets available later this year or early 2013.
A special edition of the vinyl boxset, which will include some extra surprises, is available to US/Canada/EU for pre-order:
The CD Boxset includes: (price not listed yet)
1. Five CD EPs
2. Christmas stickers
3. Temporary tattoos (non-toxic & safe for children)
4. A paper ornament (self-assembly with directions)
5. An apocalyptic pull-out poster
6. Song lyrics and chord charts (sing along with your friends and enemies)
7. Hallucinogenic photographs and psychedelic graphic design (by Sufjan Stevens, drug-free since 1975)
8. Extensive liner notes (introductory salutations and an essay on the Christmas tree by Sufjan Stevens, and a few theological words on the End Times by Pastor Vito Aiuto)
The vinyl boxset includes: ($120 + S/H)
1. Five EPs on 6 vinyl discs
2. Christmas stickers
3. Temporary tattoos
4. A paper ornament
5. A 40-page Christmas songbook with vocal and piano reductions
6. A Christmas coloring book
7. Hallucinogenic photographs and psychedelic graphic design
8. Extensive liner notes
Sufjan Stevens Lego Movie
~Dan – np: Carla Kihlstedt & Matthias Bossi – Niagara Falling: Tales for the Stage, III
Just uploaded to bandcamp by Glen Phillips (the voice of Toad the Wet Sprocket) is Coyote Sessions.
Go here to buy it (only $7 for the full album):
Here’s the 411…
This album is a collection of beloved orphans – songs I’ve played live but never put on a record, or co-writes that other artists have cut but I hadn’t gotten around to recording.
Coyote Sessions is also an experiment in recording. My friend Sean McCue lost his previous studio in the Tea Fire a couple years ago, and recently finished building a new workspace, Coyote Road Studio. It’s a big open room, with a distinctive sound. We wanted to see how truly we could capture a real performance – no electronic mixing, no overdubs, just a single microphone a couple feet away from me and players moved around the room to balance the sound. We hope you like the results.
**** Full album includes a video for Greer Zoller ****
Glen Phillips – Vocal, Acoustic Guitar
Sean McCue – Electric and High Strung Guitars, Percussion
Jim Connolly – Acoustic Bass, Piano
Alastair Greene – Electric and Steel Guitars
Tariqh Akoni – Electric Guitar
Bill Flores – Pedal Steel, Weissenborn, Mandolin
Anna Abbey – Piano
Tom Lackner – Drums
On Wednesday, Glen Phillips (from Toad the Wet Sprocket) released a free download of a new song, “The Next Day.” Go get it on his bandcamp site…
From the 12/13/11 show at Soho in Santa Barbara. Closest I will make it to a holiday song this year. More of an OWS support ditty with a seasonal reference in the chorus… Be happy, be well.
Also, rest in peace, Christopher Hitchens. You were great. God is Not Great.
This fall is turning into a flippin’ brilliant season for new music… My Brightest Diamond, Wussy, and Puscifer… all gems. Now some more…
Cincinnati-based singer-songwriter Jason Ludwig (formerly of Noctaluca) released two new albums last Friday. I’ve spent a few days with them, and I LOVE-love-LOVE them. I can’t say which one, Lost in Love or Tanglings, that I like more – but they’re both vying for a spot on my Best Albums of 2011 List. They’re only available as a digital download (mp3 or FLAC) via Jason’s bandcamp page, but the awesome part… they’re only $5 each.
Go to jasonludwig.com for samples and then buy them. Well-produced, well-arranged, creative singer-songwriter that reminds me of a cross between the pop of Glen Hansard (of the Swell Season and the Frames) and the creative of Daniel Johns (of Silverchair). If you don’t like them, I’d be surprised.
More new music news…
My favorite living trumpet-player/composer, Dave Douglas, started a new digital download music series this year on his record label, Greenleaf Music, called GPS (Greenleaf Portable Series). Greenleaf recently launched a cloud player with their entire catalog, they’re putting out an iPad/iPhone App, and they just announced that they’re going to put out the three GPS releases thus far (Rare Metals, Orange Afternoons, Bad Mango) as an extremely limited 3-CD boxset called Three Views.
More info coming soon from Greenleaf, but it’s expected before year’s end.
Today is the day… the first two songs are available for download. Go to the original post (below) for info on how to get Medeski Martin & Wood’s “Me2” and “Shackman“…
Medeski Martin & Wood have been around for 20 years. And to celebrate, they’re digitally releasing two new, never-released tracks each month (starting March 29th), for a total of 20 tracks by the end of the year.
You can pre-order the entire package now for only $9.90… right HERE. If you wait until after March 29th, the price per download is $0.99. So, act now, and get the new tracks for essentially half price.
With the pre-order, you will be alerted by email when the monthly 2 tracks become downloadable! The first two tracks will become available for download March 29th, 2011. See below for the release schedule for the remaining tracks:
4/26/11 – Tracks 3 & 4
5/31/11 – Tracks 5 & 6
6/28/11 – Tracks 7 & 8
7/26/11 – Tracks 9 & 10
8/30/11 – Tracks 11 & 12
9/27/11 – Tracks 13 & 14
10/25/11 – Tracks 15 & 16
11/29/11 – Tracks 17 & 18
12/20/11 – Tracks 19 & 20
If you happen to be in Oregon, specifically Portland, check John Medeski, Billy Martin & Chris Wood out TONIGHT at the Roseland Theater!
So, the new Radiohead album The King of Limbs is out now (not tomorrow). They put it on their download servers early… so, if you bought it, go get it. If you didn’t, go buy it and get it! http://www.thekingoflimbs.com/
They also put out the video for “Lotus Flower”
Produced and Directed by Garth Jennings
Choreographed by Wayne McGregor
Director of Photography- Nick Wood
Editor- Leila Sarraf
The video features Thom Yorke as an “old man dancing”… :) The choreographer is a genius. Not because of his output… but because he was able to earn some income for services rendered to Radiohead. I mean, isn’t that style just called “Thom Yorke stage presence”…?
File Sharing Policy: There are no free mp3 download or FLAC torrents for any albums on this blog (nor will there ever be). On occasion, there are links for songs for free download (legally provided by the artist). If you like music, support the artists. Buy it!!