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Songs for Christmas- Sufjan Stevens

Songs for Christmas- Sufjan Stevens

At this point in December, you’ve probably heard enough Christmas music to want to blow your brains out or at least threaten Santa Claus with shooting one of his reindeer. So here is something to mix it up a bit with actual Christmas music you want to hear.

Every year, Sufjan Stevens recorded Christmas EP’s to give to his friends and family and a couple of years ago, he released five of the volumes in a box set for everyone to enjoy. The Dessner brothers from the National recently played a couple of Sufjan’s newer Christmas songs that were in unreleased later volumes on a radio show so I figured now would be a good time to give you an incentive to buy the box set and then google the later volumes and download the torrents.

You can stream for free all of the released volumes below at the bandcamp stream and purchase for only $12:

Here are two of my favorites from the box set, the ridiculously beautiful Sister Winter and Star Of Wonder:

And here is the best version of Joy to the World you’ll ever hear (from the box set) and an amazingly awesome electronic version of the same song off the unreleased Vol. 8:

Barcarola is the song that the Dessner brothers played. I believe it is off the unreleased Vol. 6:

Get ready for it… the unreleased 13 minute “The Child with the Star on His Head” off Vol. 8:

And another great one off of Vol. 8, “Christmas in the Room”:

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Royal Robertson Car

Royal Robertson- Car

I only had tickets for Saturday but when I walked out of the Wiltern after  Sufjan Stevens put on the best show I’ve seen all year (possibly, ever), there was only one thing to do: buy tickets for Sunday, not in the balcony where I was that night but instead, in the second row center. And the show kicked my ass again.

The Age of Adz might be my favorite Sufjan Stevens album and hearing these songs live (he performed mostly new songs off this and the All Delighted People EP) ranks up there with the best concert experiences I’ve ever had. I don’t think I’ve heard a better song performed live than the very intense “The Age Of Adz”. The centerpiece of the show is the 25 minute “Impossible Soul” which takes you on a serious trip through a cascade of emotions and then rips out into a dance party. A guy a few seats away from me jumped out of his seat in dance somewhere at the 15 minute mark and this was a guy who looked like he hadn’t danced in a good 20 years (he might have even been in a wheelchair! That Sufjan’s a healer).

None of the clips below can fully capture the experience of being in that room to hear Sufjan’s voice but it will give you some idea of why you need to find out when he’s playing and rush to the airport to get the first flight out to wherever that may be.

Greatest song I’ve ever heard live, “The Age of Adz”. The song starts at the 1:15 mark but listen for the build:

“Get Real, Get Right”:

Unfortunately, I can’t find any full videos of “Impossible Soul” so here is just a part of it that I could. Again, it doesn’t do this song or the experience justice because there’s another 18 minutes surrounding it. Hopefully, there will be a full recording soon and I can post that.

Here’s a good sounding video of “Vesuvius” that he did in Kansas City:

And when I was trying to find some video of the entire Impossible Soul, i came across this guy dancing to it. Just felt I needed to share this:

The Age of Adz is available to listen for free on the Bandcamp stream and then you can hit the Buy button for $8 and own it. Pay some extra attention to “I Want To Be Well” and “All For Myself” which are amazing tracks that should have been performed but weren’t:

Also check out the major inspiration for Adz, a very interesting artist/prophet: Royal Robertson.

For the second time this year Broken Social Scene made its way through Los Angeles, performing this past Tuesday at the Wiltern and as is always the case, they went all out and put on a great show. Many of the songs have gone through changes since they were last here in May, even songs that they’ve been performing for years from their first albums. At different points, you could see 20 people on the stage, bringing instruments up that usually don’t travel with BSS on tour and as a result, you had some very interesting takes on the songs. Owen Pallet brought his violin (this is the third time this month that I’ve seen him perform, with different bands each time), there was an amazing sax solo end to “Superconnected” that I’d never heard done before and the usual guitars on “KC Accidental” were enhanced by keyboards and brass.

They did not play “It’s All Gonna Break.” I’m sure they’re tired of closing out every show with that song but it is the greatest song to hear live and not having it played was the one disappointment in an otherwise pretty perfect show. Yeah, the new album is not as good as their previous albums but when a band plays for 2 hours and 15 minutes, you really get almost all you want to hear.

There is a surprising lack of video footage of the show on YouTube, maybe people just wanted to enjoy the show but they did similar arrangements for their songs for the San Diego show a couple of days later so some footage here is from the Wiltern show, some is from the San Diego show.

Here is “Meet Me In the Basement” from the Wiltern show. They closed their set before the encore with it and ripped up the joint. It is so damn good:

Here is “KC Accidental” from the San Diego show. A really amazing, different version than I had never seen performed  until this week:

Here is “Superconnected”, enhanced with a sax:

And here is a slow jam (mainly because there’s such a lack of footage of the songs I want to post and the video here is good). “Sweetest Kill” from the Wiltern show:

The National Press Photo

Took a trip to Pomona to see the National after missing them when they played LA proper. Wasn’t the best show I’ve seen, was actually only okay. Maybe I’m not the biggest fan of theirs, I love “High Violet” and bits and pieces off other albums, but there is definitely a sameness among their earlier albums that becomes kind of numbing when seeing them live. The songs off “High Violet” were great, just like the album, but nothing really very different at all and that goes for the level of energy as well as any kind of variance in vocals.

Also, Arcade Fire did it a couple of weeks ago, the lead singer of the National did it this time… we need to put an end to singer’s running off into the crowd. It ruins the song. Usually, it just involves the singer painfully out of breath as they try to whip a mic over people’s heads while the band plays the song flawlessly from the stage. I don’t need you to rub up on me, just perform the song.

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Arcade Fire rammed through LA last week for two performances at the Shrine. Despite some broken guitar strings and Win forgetting the lyrics to Rebellion, the first night was pretty incredible. It was my first time seeing songs from The Suburbs performed and… the songs from Funeral still pack the most heat. We Used to Wait and Rococo were great… Ready to Start was not so great but that’s because it was played first and usually, the first song at an Arcade Fire show is not good. By the second song, they’ve hit their groove and then they blow your minds for the rest of the show. It seems like a gross omission that Suburban War isn’t included in their set… and I just don’t get why a band would want to do the same exact set for every show (with the exception of a song or two) over the course of a tour. But anyway, it was a great show. Here are some clips.

Best of the night for me was Laika:

Great video of  We Used to Wait:

A great No Cars Go:

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Sufjan Stevens - The Age Of Adz/Asthmatic Kitty Records

While The Age of Adz doesn’t come out until October 12th, those who preordered the album were able to download it on Tuesday. It’s different- more electronic instruments and beats along with a much more personal, first person perspective in the songs. Stevens has gone this route before but not for a very long time and it definitely takes a second listen to make the full adjustment if you are expecting more of the usual from him.

It’s brilliant, of course, and that’s all you need to know. NPR is streaming the full album on their website and will until the release date:

http://www.npr.org/v2/?i=130049247&m=130076387&t=audio

You should definitely listen to the full album straight through but if you want , you can listen to the individual songs by clicking here.

The best of the album for me at this point is Impossible Soul. I posted a live recording of the song in August and it looks like the song has gone through an impressive metamorphosis since this was performed last year. The new and improved album cut is 15 minutes longer, taking the listener through all kinds of emotional highs and lows… It’s just amazing. Here’s the link to that song streaming on NPR in case you’re really lazy:

http://www.npr.org/v2/?i=130049247&m=130081760&t=audio

And since we’re talking NPR, Sufjan recorded the great “The Lord God Bird” exclusively for NPR back in 2005:

Download for free by right clicking and saving here.

The Flaming Lips… Literally

Posted: September 28, 2010 by groovymovie in music video
Tags: , , ,

See The Leaves video still

The Flaming Lips released a video last week for “See the Leaves” off of their Embryonic album and it is something to behold. If you’ve been waiting all your life for a video with a naked woman throwing her vagina energy into the air, the wait is over. It’s a great song and a damn entertaining video. I suppose this is NSFW but all the good parts are blurred out or covered up by the “energy”.
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