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Sufjan Stevens’ Silver & Gold (Xmas EP #’s 6-10)

2nd Oct 12 (Tue) Leave a comment

Update: the stop-motion Lego video is at the bottom.

Pre-order his upcoming Silver and Gold (Christmas EP boxset #2) on 5 CDs or 58 mp3.  The 5-vinyl set appears to be sold out (via bandcamp).

“Happy Holidays! On November 13, 2012, Asthmatic Kitty Records will release (another!) Christmas box-set extravaganza by the implacable singer/songwriter Sufjan StevensSilver & 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:

http://sufjanstevens.bandcamp.com/album/silver-gold

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

Whoa!

Sufjan Stevens Lego Movie

~Dan – np: Carla Kihlstedt & Matthias BossiNiagara Falling: Tales for the Stage, III

EARTH’s Dylan Carlson – Wonders from the House of Albion

14th Jan 12 (Sat) Leave a comment

The frontman from sludge/drone/doom metal pioneer’s EARTH is coming out with a solo album via Kickstarter

(Dylan on the far left)

Dylan Carlson is creating his first major solo project outside of earth.  There will be a limited edition lp/dvd/book and cd/dvd/book (500 of each format) and a special pressing of 150 copies (lp only) with personalized ex libris by Simon Fowler (who will also do the cover and end papers). The illustrations will be by Kiyo Lappalainen. The limited edition books will be pop-up style. There will also be an open edition with regular flat printing in a cd booklet and flat lp printing.

The recording will combine field recordings from various megalithic and other sites of human/fairy encounters across the UK, also the use of ritual and folkloric magical practices. The expedition will be filmed by Clyde Petersen. These recordings will be layered with Dylan’s interpretations of classic Scotch-English ballads about human/fairy encounters from early modern England and Scotland (15th-18th century). It will also feature guest vocalists to sing the songs.

This is not being done through a label, as earth’s output has, but is a labor of love/obsession of Dylan’s. Being primarily of Scotch-English descent, this is an historical journey to his personal and cultural past, embracing music/folklore/the occult dimension and history. This is also result of personal experience’s of ‘the other side’. His blog has details, if interested. The field recordings will be accomplished in April-May of 2012. The rest of the recording/mastering will be finished in summer and early fall, the artwork is an ongoing process, already begun. Dylan is planning to have it all done for a May 2013 release. Join in the restoration of magic, a return to a world of spirits. Where all objects have a will of their own and a language they speak in, and we have learned how to speak with them again. It will be titled “Coleman Grey presents Falling with a Thousand Stars and Other Wonders from the House of Albion.”

You can join in on the Kickstarter HERE.  Despite the May 2013 release date, this project needs funding by February 12th, 2012.

~Dan – np: Frank ZappaBurnt Weeny Sandwich

David Bazan’s Christmas 2010 7″ vinyl

11th Oct 10 (Mon) 1 comment

It’s October… leaves are starting to change, school is in full swing, days are getting even shorter, and David Bazan‘s annual Christmas 7″ vinyl is up for pre-order… starting with the Pedro the Lion days (2002’s The First Noel 7″), it’s become an indie rock tradition to get your mits on the meloncholy holiday tunes pressed to wax from Bazan.

For 2010, the songs are “WISH MY KIDS WERE HERE” and “I HEARD THE BELLS ON CHRISTMAS DAY.”  Suicide Squeeze Records has it – limited to 1000 copies (200 Orange, 400 Opaque Red, 400 Opaque Yellow). This 7-inch EP opens with a Bazan original, a heartbreaker of a track titled, “Wish My Kids Were Here.” The flip revisits an old favorite, Longfellow’s “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” an update on a song he first recorded/released, in 2002, at the start of the series.

ORDER HERE:

http://www.suicidesqueeze.net/index.php?section=store&ID=91

Act fast… 1,000 doesn’t last long.

~Dan – np: Holy FuckLatin

Nellie McKay’s HSMH limited edition

24th Sep 10 (Fri) Leave a comment

Nellie McKay‘s new album, Home Sweet Mobile Home, comes out next week (Sept 28th)… and a limited edition fan package is available on her site.  Autographed 12″ x 12″ litho, physical CD, high-quality mp3 album, four exclusive bonus songs (no indication which ones), and an immediate download of “Bruise the on the Sky.”  The entire album is currently streaming over on NellieMcKay.com as well.

Limited edition: NellieMcKay.com ($35)
Regular CD: Amazon.com ($9.99)
Regular digital: Amazon.com ($9.49)

~Dan – np: Medeski Martin & WoodCombustication 

Miles Davis & Dogfish Head – Bitches Brew

21st Aug 10 (Sat) Leave a comment

Well, Lagunitas is officially done doing their Frank Zappa beers (Rueben & the Jets was their final one)… but I just got my hands on a couple of bottles of Delaware-based Dogfish Head‘s tribute to Miles Davis‘ album Bitches Brew.

It’s a 9% (ABV) dark beer that is a fusion of three threads imperial stout and one thread honey beer with gesho root (traditionally used in Ethiopian honey wine, tej).  Read more about the brew commemorating the 40th anniversary of Mile Davis’ album over at the Dogfish Head website.  I haven’t had time to taste the brew yet, but hopefully soon while spinning the record. :)

~Dan – np: Sufjan StevensAll the Delighted People EP

Jonesin’ for some Buffy soda

5th Aug 10 (Thu) Leave a comment

Buffy the Vampire Slayer limited edition soda collection from Seattle-based Jones Soda Company… available now, while supplies last:

http://www.myjones.com/limited/buffy

We don’t even drink much soda, but I just had to get some of these for my wife…

~Dan – np: MasadaGimel  

My Brightest Diamond with Dayna Kurtz – split 7″

29th Apr 10 (Thu) Leave a comment

The split 7″ vinyl from My Brightest Diamond and Dayna Kurtz can now be ordered online (or gotten at a handful of shows currently).

This split seven-inch finds Asthmatic Kitty star My Brightest Diamond and fellow songwriter Dayna Kurtz covering each other’s songs. Kurtz brings her smoky, deep alto to Shara Worden’s ‘Gone Away’ (from the MBD album, Bring Me The Workhorse), twanging spookily through accompanying banjo passages. Worden returns the favor with her take on Kurtz’s ‘Postcards From Downtown’ (from the album of the same name) which is similarly eerie in demeanor but ranks as a slightly more produced-sounding affair, complete with both acoustic and electric guitars, asthmatic old drums and echoing lo-fi keyboard leads. There are only 150 copies of this limited edition single in circulation, so get in there quick.

You can also listen to the tracks at the order page as well.

~Dan – np: George CarlinLast Words

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