Sufjan Stevens - Illinoise - 2005 Indie Folk Rock 2LP

In stock

Sufjan Stevens - Sufjan Stevens Invites You To: Come Feel the Illinoise

Label: Asthmatic Kitty Records – AKR014, Sounds Familyre – none
Format: 2 × Vinyl, LP, Album, Double Gatefold
has pic inner sleeve

Country: US
Released: 2005
Genre: Rock
Style: Folk Rock


Most of the songs were recorded at The Buddy Project (Astoria, Queens). Many of the quiet parts were recorded at Sufjan's apartment in Brooklyn. The piano was recorded in the dead of night at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. The string quartet was recorded at Marla's apartment in Washington Heights. Matt Morgan's vocals were recorded in Red Hook, Brooklyn, minutes before the firemen arrived, wielding their axes, in order to address the problem of the gas leak. The electric organ was recorded at the New Jerusalem Recreational Room in Clarksboro, NJ. The vibraphone was recorded at Carroll Music Studios, New York City.

This pressing has balloon artwork on the front cover (a homage to the balloon sticker used to hide the Superman artwork of the original pressing). In addition, on the back cover, note that the police cars have Illinois license plates "AKR014" and "A NO NO".



A1 Concerning The UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois

A2 The Black Hawk War, Or, How To Demolish An Entire Civilization And Still Feel Good About Yourself In The Morning, Or, We Apologize For The Inconvenience But You're Going To Have To Leave Now, Or, "I Have Fought The Big Knives And Will Continue To Fight Them Until They Are Off Our Lands!"

A3 Come On! Feel The Illinoise! Part I: The World's Columbian Exposition Part II: Carl Sandburg Visits Me In A Dream

A4 John Wayne Gacy, Jr.

A5 Jacksonville

A6 A Short Reprise For Mary Todd, Who Went Insane, But For Very Good Reasons

B1 Decatur, Or, Round Of Applause For Your Stepmother! Backing Vocals – Daniel Smith, Elin Smith, Matt Morgan

B2 One Last "Whoo-Hoo!" For The Pullman

B3 Chicago

B4 Casimir Pulaski Day

B5 To The Workers Of The Rock River Valley Region, I Have An Idea Concerning Your Predicament

C1 The Man Of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts

C2 Prairie Fire That Wanders About

C3 A Conjunction Of Drones Simulating The Way In Which Sufjan
Stevens Has An Existential Crisis In The Great Godfrey Maze

C4 The Predatory Wasp Of The Palisades Is Out To Get Us!

C5 They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back From The Dead!! Ahhhh! Vocals – Craig Montoro

C6 Let's Hear That String Part Again, Because I Don't Think They Heard It All The Way Out In Bushnell

C7 In This Temple As In The Hearts Of Man For Whom He Saved The Earth

D1 The Seer's Tower

D2 The Tallest Man, The Broadest Shoulders Part 1: The Great Frontier Part II: Come To Me Only With Playthings Now

D3 Riffs And Variations On A Single Note For Jelly Roll, Earl Hines, Louis Armstrong, Baby Dodds, And The King Of Swing, To Name A Few

D4 Out Of Egypt, Into The Great Laugh Of Mankind, And I Shake The Dirt From My Sandals As I Run

D5 The Ava Lanche

Sufjan Stevens is a puzzling character; sometimes naive, sometimes sophisticated, somewhat rustic and yet essentially urban in outlook. But there a few things he never seems to exhibit: crassness, boredom, or jaded irony. Instead he appears defenseless and in full flower on "Illinois", an album of remarkable breadth, depth and ambition.

Is Sufjan Stevens insane?

"Illinois" is only the second stop on a planned collection of 50 state-themed albums. It's the type of project whose sheer scale and mad ambition boggle the mind, calling forth a number of rhetorical questions: Is he really going to spend the bulk of his career on such a huge project? Given the fact that "Michigan" came out two years ago, shouldn't he pick up the pace a bit? Will he really make a separate album for, say, North and South Dakota?

I hope so.

Illinois is a great album, almost certainly the best of the year so far. It opens with a delicate and beautiful piano track entitled "Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois." From there, Stevens criss-crosses the state, heading to Jacksonville, Decatur and Chicago, creating a musical travelogue as thorough as any Rand McNally guidebook.

Importantly, Stevens doesn't spend all his time going from point A to point B; he also stops to get to know people, writing about everyone from John Wayne Gacy to Superman to Abraham Lincoln to Carl Sandburg. Some of the references amount to little more than name-dropping, but the beautiful Superman song and the haunting Gacy track show that, most of the time, Stevens is really trying to understand how a place could be embodied by such disparate characters.

Thematically, too, he covers a lot of ground. "Oh, God of progress, have you degraded or forgot us? Where have your walls gone? I think about it now," he asks in what is probably the only song that will ever be written about the Columbian Exposition of 1893. For good measure, he throws in a little religious imagery later in the album; though his observations here feel a little self-centered and angry, you have to give him credit for honesty and candor.

Musically, Stevens borrows from a range of styles, from Iron and Wine's hushed folkiness to Philip Glass's bright string and flute and vibraphone arrangements. Somehow he pulls it all together, though; the album's tone ranges from the playful optimism of "Come On! Feel the Illinoise!" to the breathy atmospherics of "The Seer's Tower" but still feels like the creation of a single creative genius. "Are you writing from the heart? Are you writing from the heart?" the ghost of Carl Sandburg asks him on the third track; the next song, the chilling "John Wayne Gacy, Jr." answers with a resounding yes.

I'd never heard of Stevens before hearing the glowing reviews for this album; now that I've heard it, I'm looking forward to catching up with a musical trip down I-94 to "Michigan." Hopefully by the time I'm done exploring his back catalog, he'll have the next state done, and hopefully it'll be as good as "Illinois"; even though I wonder how he can possibly finish this cross-country odyssey, I'm looking forward to riding shotgun.

Sufjan Stevens - Decatur

Every time I hear this song I feel like I'm turning around to see someone I've loved for so long.

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Sufjan Stevens - John Wayne Gacy, Jr. -

I feel very connected to every single song on this album. It feels like this often overlooked part of the country is being acknowledged by someone who does it complete justice. Thank you, Sufjan.

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Sufjan Stevens - Come On! Feel The Illinoise

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Sufjan Stevens - Jacksonville

its balanced by the folky funk / slight tinge of a jazzy feel mixed with orchestrated goodness, a combination I have yet to find elsewhere nowadays. I can't say his voice is one of my favorites, but it works with this song. The spirit he speaks of in his lyrics is real and alive by the way

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Sufjan Stevens - Casimir Pulaski Day

it emphasizes the emotions of whatever the listener is feeling...and that is what is so amazing about it..

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More Information
Condition New
Format 2LP
Label Asthmatic Kitty Records
Color Black