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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

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REVIEW: My Brightest Diamond @ Pantages Theater (Tacoma, WA – 9/22/12)

24th Sep 12 (Mon) 3 comments

FYI… PHOTOS of the SHOW at the BOTTOM

Outside of a college football traffic-filled I-5 and a rainbow roll sushi before the show, there was no opener for My Brightest Diamond this weekend for me.  She was the first after “dinner break” act for Tacoma’s 9/22-9/23 weekend Broadway Center Free For All.  A free one-off show in the Pacific Northwest by one of my absolute favorite artists!!  Well, free outside of the time and gas money… I wasn’t going to pass this up.

Dressed in colorful balls, spikes, and pipe cleaner, My Brightest Diamond (Shara Worden) started the show by coming out in a mask and dumping two large trash bags full of bright orange balloons on the stage.

She played a short set, but hit some great high-points from her three album catalog and switched around a lot on various instruments: ukulele, keyboards, mbira, electric guitar…

Product Details Product Details Product Details

Setlist:

  • We Added It Up
  • Golden Star
  • Escape Routes
  • Be Brave
  • Apples
  • High Low Middle
  • I Have Never Loved Someone
  • Inside A Boy

Her quirkiness and fun-loving vibe shone through.  This being a free show, I’m hoping she attracted some new followers with her charms.  As far as what’s next for her?  Well, she’s bound to show up on someone’s record here, or a collaborative single there, or a remix album over there, or a new album in a bit.  She’s currently not specifically touring; so any chance she comes through your parts for a one-off show – check her out.  You shan’t be disappointed!

more photos below

The Appropriate Linkage:

Next show for me… Chevelle at Crystal Ballroom on 9/25.

~Dan – np: ChevelleThis Type Of Thinking (Could Do Us In)

My Brightest Diamond PHOTOS
all pictures (cc) 2012 Daniel Temmesfeld,
you may use freely under a creative commons attribution

(click for larger)

Tori Amos “Flavor” (from the forthcoming ‘Gold Dust’)

31st Aug 12 (Fri) Leave a comment

Tori Amos is turning into too serious of an artist.  I still love her, though… here’s the premiere video for “Flavor” from the forthcoming album Gold Dust, out on Deutsche Grammophon on October 2nd, 2012.

~Dan – np: dredgThe Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion

Levi Weaver “Rogue Boat” (video)

22nd Aug 12 (Wed) Leave a comment

It seems like just weeks ago that singer-songwriter Levi Weaver was playing my living room… oh wait, it was (Eugene house show review here).  His latest music video just came out.  Check out “Rogue Boat” here:

“Rogue Boat” is from his latest EP, I Am Only A Tiny Noise.  Listen and buy that one over at Bandcamp or over at the Amazons!

~Dan – np: Levi WeaverI Am Only A Tiny Noise

REVIEW: Fiona Apple @ the Schnitz (Portland, OR – 7/26/12)

30th Jul 12 (Mon) 1 comment

Fiona Apple in Minnesota (July 2012)

Poetic and pop-forward, yet jazzy on record, Fiona Apple turned out a full force band show at Portland’s Schnitzer last Thursday.  She bounced around her back catalogue, only playing a handful from the new album, The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do.

What to like about what she played?

Just about everything.  The pain & hurt in “Shadowboxer,” the disappointment in “Paper Bag,” the anger in “Get Gone,” the positivity and whimsy in “Extraordinary Machine.”  I would have loved to hear a live rendition (with vocal loops) of “Hot Knife” from The Idler Wheel, but overall, I was pleased with what she gave us…

Setlist: about 90 mins

  • Fast As You Can
  • On the Bound
  • Shadowboxer
  • Paper Bag
  • Anything We Want
  • Get Gone
  • Sleep To Dream
  • Extraordinary Machine
  • Werewolf
  • Tymps (The Sick in the Head Song)
  • Daredevil
  • I Know
  • Every Single Night
  • Criminal
  • Carrion
  • Not About Love
  • Encore: It’s Only Make Believe [Conway Twitty]

Fiona’s rocking band was helmed by Blake Mills on guitar (the show opener as well), and rounded out by Sebastian Steinberg on bass, Amy Wood on drums, and Zac Rae on keys.

Fiona is on the top of her game, and I just hope that it’s not another 7 years before we hear something new.  But even if it is, I know it’ll be a delight.

The Appropriate Linkage:

She just ended her 2012 summer tour (dates below), but check out her TOUR PAGE for Fall dates that start in September.

Next show for me… Sigur Rós @ Edgefield (Portland) on Aug 9th.

~Dan – np: CelldwellerSoundtrack for the Voices in My Head, Volume 2

Fiona Apple — 2012 Tour Dates
6/19 – Ithaca, NY – State Theatre
6/20 – Baltimore, MD – Lyric Opera House
6/22 – Mashantucket, CT – MGM Grand Theater at Foxwoods
6/23 – Holyoke, MA – Mountain Park
6/24 – New York, NY – Governors Ball at Randall’s Island
6/26 – Washington DC – Warner Theatre
6/27 – Upper Darby, PA – Tower Theatre
6/29 – Danbury, CT – Ives Concert Park
6/30 – Boston, MA – Citi Performing Arts Center
7/1 – Portland, ME – State Theatre
7/3 – Montreal, QC – Olympia Theatre
7/4 – Toronto, Ontario – The Sound Academy
7/6 – Cleveland Heights, OH – Cain Park
7/7 – Detroit, MI – The Fillmore Detroit
7/10 – Chicago, IL – Chicago Theatre
7/11 – Indianapolis, IN – Murat Theatre
7/13 – Nashville, TN – The Ryman Auditorium
7/14 – St. Louis, MO – Peabody Opera House
7/16 – Minneapolis, MN – Orpheum Theatre
7/17 – Kansas City, MO – The Midland by AMC
7/20 – Denver, CO – Paramount Theatre
7/21 – Salt Lake City, UT – Kingsbury Hall at University of Utah
7/24 – Vancouver, BC – Orpheum
7/25 – Seattle, WA – Paramount Theatre
7/26 – Portland, OR – Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
7/28 – Oakland, CA – Fox Theater
7/29 – Hollywood, CA – Hollywood Palladium

REVIEW: Levi Weaver @ House Show (Eugene, OR – 7/16/12)

19th Jul 12 (Thu) 2 comments

How did I get into Nashville-based singer-songwriter Levi Weaver?

Well, um… is “Yahoo! fantasy baseball league via twitter” a valid explanation?  Well, it’s how it went down.  After following him, he had posted something about his documentary String Theory, then I sent him a “hey next time you’re in Oregon let me know” message, and then he sent me a “well actually” message… and the rest is history.

This was only my 3rd house show to host and/or coordinate (Susan Enan & Peter Mulvey being the other two), but it went smoothly.  Levi is a delight to work with, and he’s a true professional.  He’s still in the midst of shooting the String Theory doc; so he had a two-person crew with him.

A little sparser attendance than I was going for due to being the Monday right after Oregon Country Fair, we still had a decent turnout for Levi’s lovely set.  I’m still getting familiar with his music, but from his hour-long set he started with “String Theory” (on mandolin) then Radiohead’sIdioteque” (with plenty of loops, bowed guitar and effects).

After my post-show delving into his music, other tunes played were: You Are Home, Which Drink?, Good From Evil, We’re Tornadoes When We Dance, Spirit First (I think?) and a few more.  Here are some shots from the show… I had front row couch seats… (click for larger)

He has tons of fantastic music out there.  Check it out on bandcamp (links below), support indie music, check him out when he swings by your town, and enjoy!

Civil War Between My Heart and Mind cover art You Are Never Close To Home, You Are Never Far From Home cover art The Letters of Dr. Kurt Gödel cover art
Twenty Thousand Miles cover art I Am Only a Tiny Noise cover art

The Appropriate Linkage:

Next show for me… Bad Mitten Orchestre at WOW Hall on 7/21.

~Dan – np: Tin Hat & e.e. cummingsthe rain is a handsome animal

Ben Folds Five – The Sound of the Life of the Mind (album art)

14th Jul 12 (Sat) Leave a comment

The new Ben Folds Five record had a name and album art*… the art for The Sound of the Life of the Mind was posted on the PledgeMusic page yesterday:

Go to the PledgeMusic page to support:

http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/benfoldsfive

7/17 update: The CD & vinyl is available for pre-order on Amazon now!!

*– “alleged album art & name.  If you remember what Ben Folds did for Way To Normal by leaking a nearly full “fake” album ahead of the regular album… well, take things with a grain of salt. :)

~Dan – np: CelldwellerFirst Person Shooter

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