244. Illinoise – Sufjan Stevens

SUFJAN STEVEN INVITES YOU TO: COME ON FEEL THE ILLINOISE (2005)

Sufjan Stevens

The music and art of Sufjan Stevens so reminds me of…

…of…

…of…

Sufjan Stevens.

As unique as his first name, the music of Sufjan Stevens is unique, creative original and utterly and completely enjoyable. Each song has a score of instruments, many played by Stevens himself, in differing time signatures, employing wildly imaginative arrangements and delivering some of the best music of the last decade. From electronica to folk, Stevens may be the most eclectic artist on this list.

His fifth release, Illinoise is such a fun experience that its deeper messages should not be missed. On the outside it appears that it is solely an album based on the state of Illinois, much like his previously released album, Michigan, was about the state of Michigan.

But through relating, relaying and describing the history, impact and influence of the state, Stevens delivers universal truths. These stories can be heard as simply stories, but also as something more, they are examinations about the how’s and why’s of the people, events and land that epitomizes the American Midwest experience.

The albums most recognizable song is “Chicago,” a song that received a decent amount of radio airplay on alternative, AAA and college radio stations. As a result Stevens has become a “College Music” darling for his wicked wit and “out there” musical experience. It is the picture of Stevens that accompanies the definition of “indie” in the dictionary.

Stevens may be an acquired taste for some (not unlike Beck, Danielson, etc) but it is worth the effort.

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  1. Shawn McLaughlin
    November 22, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    Unlike Danielson, Sufjan’s voice doesn’t peel paint or clear a room faster than a methane expolsion.

    • low5point
      November 22, 2010 at 7:03 pm

      Agreed…it’s more of his musical experimental tendencies some may take a while to appreciate. His voice is actually quite good.

  2. Strawshine
    November 22, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    I only have “Seven Swans” and “Illinoise”. I like quite a few of the songs “All The Trees Will Clap Their Hands”, “Chicago”, “The Seer’s Tower” and I can appreciate the subtle references and Christian/religious imagery in the lyrics, but I cannot help but think Sufjan Stevens is the most overrated artist of the past decade. Most of it is personal taste, I for one don’t really like how organized, synchronized, etc…his music is. As well, all my favourite artists are people few have heard of, so this continual regimen of people talking about how great Sufjan Stevens is when no one has heard of Mark Heard or David Eugene Edwards (artists I like more and who don’t get/never got their dues) plays into it.

    • low5point
      November 22, 2010 at 7:40 pm

      Mark Heard will appear here seven times…I know who he is 🙂

  3. Alex
    November 22, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    I hope to see “Seven Swans” in your Top 10.

  4. TMc
    November 22, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    Casmir Pulaski Day is still the song that rends my heart asunder. (My apologies, but true nevertheless.) Different musically, more complex certainly and not meant for mass consumption. I still find it all quite accessible. Sufjan speaks eloquently and honestly of the human condition, just not in simple terms with simple music. Coffee and “fine” wine are acquired tastes not commonly appreciated by the young. His music may be an acquired taste as well for many of us.

    Just got done prepping a room to be repainted at home. I never thought of playing Danielson in there. It might of saved some time. Think it would work on some woodwork I need to refinish?

  5. TMc
    November 22, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    Casmir Pulaski Day is still the song that rends my heart asunder. (My apologies, but true nevertheless.) Different musically, more complex certainly and not meant for mass consumption. I still find it all quite accessible. Sufjan speaks eloquently and honestly of the human condition, just not in simple terms with simple music. Coffee and “fine” wine are acquired tastes not commonly appreciated by the young. His music may be an acquired taste as well for many of us.

    Just got done prepping a room to be repainted at home. I never thought of playing Danielson in there. It might have saved some time. Think it would work on some woodwork I need to refinish?

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