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Old 02-08-2016, 06:43 PM   #331
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I dislike a good chunk of that album and find it unusually lacking in focus lyrically, but he gets a gold star for trying. I'm glad it exists for Impossible Soul alone.

Pretty much in agreement on the title track. Some parts work, some parts don't.
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Old 02-08-2016, 07:08 PM   #332
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I really wish Bonnie and Imperor were still around. They'd back me up on Adz it's become my favourite Sufjie album.

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I dislike a good chunk of that album and find it unusually lacking in focus lyrically, but he gets a gold star for trying. I'm glad it exists for Impossible Soul alone.

Pretty much in agreement on the title track. Some parts work, some parts don't.
Impossible Soul (which is the album's best song, a towering achievement and my favourite Sufjan song) is a nice microcosm of the album: starts and ends astonishingly well but loses a bit of shape in the middle.

I also love the lyrics on Age of Adz. There's less state-based research, less crises of faith, less excruciatingly honest family revision, but of the five albums I've heard it's the most moving set of lyrics, for me. They're selfish and self-indulgent at times, but we all have those moments. It's a very fragile, human record, which I think is an achievement in itself given how wrapped up in warped electronics it is. Much of it appears to be ostensibly about a break-up, and it's elongated and eviscerating, thrilling and ugly in equal measure.

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Is "Age of Adz" (track) terrible or great? I'm not sure. Part of it makes me want to rip my ears out, but then other parts are phenomenal. But in order to appreciate the good parts, you must endure the awfulness as well. I've listened to it over and over again, but I'm still not sure. Any other opinions of the song?
Personally I think it's a stunningly good song. I think the processed horns, synths, strings and all the rest of it that surround his vocals have a soaring quality to them, that matches well the vocals. The lyrics are depressing as hell, but the music and vocals give this sense of a man trying desperately to beat away at his black shroud.

I wonder if the parts you think are phenomenal are the same ones as me - I think the really quiet parts, which come in during the song's second half, are absolutely stunning, as beautiful as anything he's ever recorded. The last 90 or so seconds might be my favourite bit of music he's ever done - the electronics slowly being stripped and falling away before it all gives way to just an acoustic guitar and Sufjan's warm, soft, vocals. I fucking adore it. It is just astonishingly beautiful.


I'm sorry if I seem self-effacing, consumed by selfish thoughts
It's only that I still love you deeply
It's all the love I got


I totally see where you're coming from though. When I first listened to the album I had no idea what to make of it - there were these brief respites from the cacophonous noise that were stunning in their beauty, but they were few and far between. But that's what kept me coming back, those moments of beauty in the madness. And now I love it dearly.

I think your comment "in order to appreciate the good parts, you must endure the awfulness as well" is pretty spot on (although obviously I wouldn't use the word awful. Dissonant, maybe. Or something). In Impossible Soul and indeed the whole record, those transcendent moments of beauty are made even better by the mess that surrounds them. It's rewarding music; you get through one sloggish part and you're rewarded with a moment of true beauty.

I don't apologise for crapping on about this album, I love it so much. I have found it very, very addictive. I see he's been playing I Want to Be Well and Vesuvius from it live lately (in addition to Futile Devices, which rules), hopefully I can catch one or both at the upcoming shows.
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Old 02-08-2016, 07:32 PM   #333
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New Sufjan Stevens EP available now

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I also love the lyrics on Age of Adz. There's less state-based research, less crises of faith, less excruciatingly honest family revision, but of the five albums I've heard it's the most moving set of lyrics, for me. They're selfish and self-indulgent at times, but we all have those moments. It's a very fragile, human record, which I think is an achievement in itself given how wrapped up in warped electronics it is. Much of it appears to be ostensibly about a break-up, and it's elongated and eviscerating, thrilling and ugly in equal measure.

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Personally I think it's a stunningly good song. I think the processed horns, synths, strings and all the rest of it that surround his vocals have a soaring quality to them, that matches well the vocals. The lyrics are depressing as hell, but the music and vocals give this sense of a man trying desperately to beat away at his black shroud.
I wonder if the parts you think are phenomenal are the same ones as me - I think the really quiet parts, which come in during the song's second half, are absolutely stunning, as beautiful as anything he's ever recorded. The last 90 or so seconds might be my favourite bit of music he's ever done - the electronics slowly being stripped and falling away before it all gives way to just an acoustic guitar and Sufjan's warm, soft, vocals. I fucking adore it. It is just astonishingly beautiful.

I'm sorry if I seem self-effacing, consumed by selfish thoughts
It's only that I still love you deeply
It's all the love I got
Agree 100%. Exactly what I'm talking about!

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I totally see where you're coming from though. When I first listened to the album I had no idea what to make of it - there were these brief respites from the cacophonous noise that were stunning in their beauty, but they were few and far between. But that's what kept me coming back, those moments of beauty in the madness. And now I love it dearly.



I think your comment "in order to appreciate the good parts, you must endure the awfulness as well" is pretty spot on (although obviously I wouldn't use the word awful. Dissonant, maybe. Or something). In Impossible Soul and indeed the whole record, those transcendent moments of beauty are made even better by the mess that surrounds them. It's rewarding music; you get through one sloggish part and you're rewarded with a moment of true beauty.
Agree again. "Awful" was a bit too strong, but you can tell what I meant by that. Very chaotic and messy.
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I don't apologise for crapping on about this album, I love it so much. I have found it very, very addictive. I see he's been playing I Want to Be Well and Vesuvius from it live lately (in addition to Futile Devices, which rules), hopefully I can catch one or both at the upcoming shows.
I love the album as well. I appreciate something new every time I listen.


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Old 02-08-2016, 07:49 PM   #334
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I really wish Bonnie and Imperor were still around. They'd back me up on Adz it's become my favourite Sufjie album.
I like it too. That's the only tour I've seen him live on, t was great.
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Old 02-08-2016, 07:50 PM   #335
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glad to see there's another fan Mr Saget!

and you too, Mofo. I'd have loved to have seen him on that tour. Would have been so cool seeing him pull off those songs live. He'll never do Impossible Soul again, I'm guessing.
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Old 02-08-2016, 07:56 PM   #336
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Here's the setlist from when I saw him. Primarily Adz era songs.

Sufjan Stevens Concert Setlist at Kingsbury Hall, Salt Lake City on November 1, 2010 | setlist.fm
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Old 02-08-2016, 09:24 PM   #337
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Yeah, Age of Adz is great. There's very little I don't like in that album, and the I Want To Be Well-Impossible Soul combo at the end is out of this world.

Those live shows were fantastic, as mofo said. I think I saw that tour 2-3 times and loved every one of the shows. Sufjan was in a completely different state of mind, a bit detached from the audience, but giving some very theatrical performances. Some of his banter was almost new agey. And the Impossible Soul live performances were a huge party, with balloons, hula hoops and dancers.

By the way, cobbler, have you ever heard You Are the Blood? It's his contribution to the Dark Was The Night Compilation put out by the Dessner brothers, and pre-dates the All Delighted People-Age of Adz releases, but some of the lyrical and musical references are present already.



And here's that early Impossible Soul:

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Old 02-08-2016, 10:03 PM   #338
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Yeah legit, the last half an hour of Adz is fucking amazing. I LOVE I Want to Be Well. Wish I could go back in time and see the shows, I've seen a ton of YT clips but they can't compare. It'll never happen again, although the current show is brilliant as well.

I have heard You Are the Blood, like it a lot, very prescient of what was to come.

I had not heard that early Impossible Soul though. That's lovely, thanks for sharing. Bummer it ends just before it gets to the best part!
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Old 02-26-2016, 09:24 PM   #339
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So, night one of three with Sufjan.

I last saw him in May last year, at the Sydney Opera House. Didn't expect him to be back but I'm very glad he is, particularly as I know his music much better now, I think I only had Carrie & Lowell and Illinoise at the time, maybe had just gotten Seven Swans. It's interesting, reading back through this thread, the Age of Adz copped some heat for focusing too much on that album. This tour, if anything, focuses even more on the album it's supporting. From what I can see the Age of Adz tour included more material in the main set than this tour, like Seven Swans and Chicago.

Anyway. Redford is a stunning opener, very menacing. You don't notice that Sufjan is playing at the piano and then by the time the show proper starts he's already slunk over to the mic to begin Death With Dignity. We were third row, which was super cool. Dude is SO hot. He's like, what, 40? And his arms and chest are ripped and he's just a real good-looking dude. Huge man-crush on him.

He played eight songs in a row from Carrie & Lowell, which is just so hugely impressive. It's a wonderful thing to watch. No Shade hit me harder than usual, my god what an utterly hopeless, depressing song that is. Then came a song I didn't know, Stone, which is apparently from a band he was in in the late 90s, Marzuki. Vesuvius was my highlight of the now, so stoked to hear an Adz track and it was fantastic. Went very nicely followed by Futile Devices, and then the main set closed with that stunning, 10+ minute rendition of Blue Bucket of Gold. Phenomenal, that is.

The encore had nine songs. His banter is great, he was talking about how he'd seen Stevie Wonder recently. "Songs in the Key of Life, what an album. I just do Songs in the Key of Death." Very self-deprecating and he's aware of how many of his songs are depressing. He also told a really nice story, about how he had been thinking lately of a kid that died in fourth-grade, and how the teachers told the kids that they should celebrate his life and his impact, not so much mourn, and how Sufjan was now seeing the death of his mother as something to make him stronger and happier, it was really nice.

John Wayne Gacy gave me absolute chills, Palisades was fucking wonderful. He kept forgetting the lines in Casimir, "there's so many events in this song and they're all ordered", before closing with Chicago. The whole encore was acoustic, which I thought was a bit of a bummer but it was still super nice.

I'm not sure this setlist is correct because I feel like Stone was much heavier, more rockier and upbeat (in pace, not tone) but I just listened to a live version from last year on youtube and it's quite quiet. I also don't recall Mistress being played, I haven't listened to The Avalanche but I feel like I'd remember the song being played, I thought I recognised everything in the encore.

Bring on nights two and three.

Redford (For Yia-Yia & Pappou)
Death With Dignity
Should Have Known Better
Drawn to the Blood
All of Me Wants All of You
The Only Thing
Fourth of July
No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross
Carrie & Lowell
Stone
Eugene
Vesuvius
Futile Devices
Blue Bucket of Gold

For the Widows in Paradise, For the Fatherless in Ypsilanti
The Dress Looks Nice on You
A Good Man Is Hard to Find
John Wayne Gacy, Jr.
The Mistress Witch From McClure (Or, the Mind That Knows Itself)
To Be Alone With You
The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades Is Out to Get Us!
Casimir Pulaski Day
Chicago
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Old 02-28-2016, 12:02 AM   #340
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Night two. (And from the previous night, Mistress Witch was definitely not played.) Went with bae this time, and we had shitty seats, up in the balcony, which is quite ill-shaped, meaning you had to sit forward if you wanted to see the front of the stage without people's heads in front intervening. I was super excited for bae to see the show, since she's a Sufjan fan and loves the new album (that's how she got into him) and I knew she'd love the show. Before she met me the only concert she'd been to was Aqua, and though she has quite good taste in music, she'd not ventured out much. We saw Hot Chip a couple weeks back and she said it was the best thing she'd ever seen; so, without taking credit away from one of my all-time favourite groups, I knew she'd love this show even more.

Eugene replaced All of Me Wants All of You early in the set, and in fact the latter was almost completely relegated; (it later appeared in an acoustic form in the encore, which was hella nice but not as good as the Adz-ified version he's been playing. It was also the second night in a row he didn't play John My Beloved, which seems a little weird as all the C&L songs go down well. Anyway)

I swear Drawn to the Blood was different from the night before. There were quite a few songs that I could have sworn were done a little differently, but I might be wrong. Anyway Drawn to the Blood came to a phenomenal closure, very nearly moved me to tears, and tonight it was The Only Thing that cut me real deep, god that was good, and it has a great instrumental swell towards the end of the song. I could listen to Fourth of July for years. There is something so amazing about seeing a band go hard at it, lights flashing everywhere as the refrain "we're all gonna die" is endlessly repeated.

The Owl and the Tanager replaced Stone, I don't dig it a hell of a lot on the record but it's quite good live; it's quite epic and sprawling in a hushed way over its six minutes. Bae loved it and even picked up on it before I did. Vesuvius, again, was spectacular, probably the highlight and perhaps even better than the night before. The graphics on the panel screens are fucking awesome, and as the song roars to this monstrous, volcanic crescendo there's flames and shit being animated on the screens behind. It's so fucking good. I Want to Be Well followed and it was great, featured some decidedly Floyd-esque guitar playing but I was slightly bummed the "I'm not fucking around / I want to be well" part didn't reach the same heights as it does on the record, it's taken down a notch, which probably suits the show a bit better, but still. But then, it was still great to hear. Blue Bucket of Gold, shit. I've spilled plenty of words about it before but I thought its conclusion was even more nuts tonight, the drummer nearly breaking his kit as it reached a thunderous conclusion. So good.

The encore was a lot shorter, All the Trees of the Field the only different track. Supposedly UFO Sighting, Casimir and Palisades were all on the setlist but considering they've been a bit off-base so far I'm not so sure about that. Owl and the Tanager probably cut some time, as did I Want to Be Well. Widows is such a fucking good song.

Can't wait for the third and final show tonight. Think we're a pretty decent chance of getting Heirloom, which is quickly becoming one of my fav Sufjan songs, but what I really really want to hear is Sister. Fingers crossed it gets in there somehow. That's my white whale.

Redford (for Yia-Yia and Pappou)
Death with Dignity
Should Have Known Better
Eugene
Drawn to the Blood
The Only Thing
Fourth of July
No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross
Carrie & Lowell
The Owl and the Tanager
Vesuvius
I Want to Be Well
Futile Devices

For the Widows in Paradise, for the Fatherless in Ypsilanti
All the Trees of the Field Will Clap their Hands
The Dress Looks Nice on You
All of Me Wants All of You
To Be Alone with You
Chicago
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Old 02-28-2016, 07:27 AM   #341
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Third and final night and alas, no Heirloom, nor Sister. I guess there's always next tour or maybe he'll magically have dates in Europe when I go visit bae.

It was ~probably~ my least favourite show of the three, but still great. Carrie & Lowell came early in the set, that song deserves a lot more credit. Really great song, and it just goes to another level after the "my lucky charm..." part, live 10x more so, it's really glorious to watch. Drawn to the Blood was completely different tonight, a more electro take on it, Sufjan not playing guitar, just singing. Very cool. John My Beloved finally appeared and was very, very nice. "In a manner of speaking I'm dead." And those soft, floating backing vocals and lovely little piano touches.

Sadly the main set was a song shorter tonight. Futile Devices led into Vesuvius, which was slightly changed up again and not as great as the two nights previous, but still ruled. Hell of a song, and I would have to imagine that even non-Adz fans would love Vesuvius at the very least. Elsewhere, Fourth of July continues to be fucking incredible, making me cry again, just such a desperately sad yet powerful song. Blue Bucket of Gold live, fuck, I'll keep mentioning it til the very end of my days. I also want to shout out the final lines of both No Shade - "there's blood on that blade / fuck me, I'm falling apart" and Eugene - "now I'm drunk and afraid / wishing the world would go away / what's the point of singing songs, if they'll never even hear you..." for praise. Eugene is a really great song and it's very lovely live; short, sweet, but it's the graphics that help it - a sun setting over clouds, and it just dips below the clouds during those final lines.

Seven songs in the encore, which is where Sufjie forgets most of his lyrics. UFO Sighting, iYup's girlfriend's favourite song if I'm not mistaken, tonight. Widows is great, has definitely gone up in my estimation after hearing it these three nights. Romulus was a nice little surprise, one of the better tunes on Michigan. I'd have preferred a number of other Sufjan songs but it was still really nice, and very funny when he stopped the song... "what's the next line?" Dawn whispers to him, "about your grandpa". "Ohh that's right, my grandpa dying. Fucking hell." John Wayne Gacy again, very great live, he even did the subtle intake of breath that's on the studio track. If you can listen to this song without getting chills... you might not be human. Then Chicago again to close. It's weird, but honestly I reckon Chicago is just not that great. I mean, it's one of those great indie rock songs of the mid-2000s but I doubt it would make my top 20 or 30 Sufjan songs. Bit overrated in my view, although the full band version would be better.

Redford (for Yia-Yia & Pappou)
Death With Dignity
Shoulda Known Better
Carrie & Lowell
Drawn to the Blood
John My Beloved
Eugene
The Only Thing
Fourth of July
No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross
Futile Devices
Vesuvius
Blue Bucket of Gold

Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland Illinoise
For the Widows in Paradise, the Fatherless in Ypsilanti
That Dress Looks Nice on You
All of Me Wants All of You
Romulus
John Wayne Gacy Jnr
Chicago
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Old 02-28-2016, 07:58 AM   #342
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Romulus
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Old 02-28-2016, 09:52 AM   #343
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Awesome that you got a three-night opportunity with old Sufjan, Cobbler. Personally I don't know if I could see that show again. It was so riveting the first time that it seems like it needs to be held sacred now.
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Old 02-28-2016, 07:33 PM   #344
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The subtle changes for most of the songs, as well as throwing the setlist around, make it interesting, but I take your point. It's a very special show, very coherent and consistent in its theme.

Anyone have thoughts on the All Delighted People "EP" (it's still nearly an hour long)? I really dig it quite a bit.
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Old 02-28-2016, 08:04 PM   #345
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For me there was the venue aspect as well - outside just as the sun was going down on a near perfect summer day. That extended outro to Blue Bucket of Gold just as it was getting dark was about as powerful a concert experience as I've ever had.
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