The Trouble Notes – Grand Masquerade

After seeing a live show by Time for Three recently I’ve been wandering through YouTube checking out other non-traditional acts featuring violin.  The track below, from The Trouble Notes, is amazing.  Things get crazy around the 5 minute mark, but don’t skip ahead; it’s worth the ride.  Play this for the in-laws at Thanksgiving.

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Sufjan Stevens – My Personal Winter Soundtrack

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It should come as no surprise to you that Sufjan Stevens is my personal soundtrack to the colder months.  I can’t imagine a better backdrop to set the tree, sit by the fire, or read a good book under a blanket.  That being said – the 10 disc collection of Winter and Christmas themed music put together by Sufjan and his pals does have a few tracks that are harder to bear upon repeat listening.

And, if your audience isn’t really versed in Sufjan’s compositional tendencies, simply blasting through the entire discography might garner more than a few requests to push the skip track button.

To this end I’ve put together what I consider the best and most accessible distillation of both Songs for Christmas and Silver & Gold.

Enjoy it to your heart’s content.  Be that with friends, foe, or in some cases a healthy does of heartache.  My Sufjan Winter Spotify Playlist

The National new song Day I Die

If you’ve been following The National on YouTube you’ll know they’ve been slowly releasing tracks from their upcoming album.  The latest is Day I Die and it follows the formula of the past three in being pure uncompromising signature The National.

The new album is titled Sleep Well Beast and you can preorder it in multiple formats on Amazon.




+ site amazon music hype

Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly, and James McAlister album The Planetarium

I can’t quite figure out if I like the collaborative album that Sufjan, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly and James McAlister put out.  It wanders and soars and contains a few standout tracks, but in large it seems to be an exercise in musical exploration that doesn’t truly hold my attention.

A quick breakdown on the group.

Bryce Dessner is the lead guitarist for The National – and has collaborated with Sufjan before (Suf has done background vocals for The National and Dessner has done studio guitar work and compositions with Suf)

As near as I can suss out; essentially in 2011 a concert hall in the Netherlands commissioned Nico Muhly (composer) to write a piece about the Solar System.  He reached out to Sufjan and Dessner who helped assist with that composition which debuted in 2012 (Sufjan has also composed music for his own short film The BQE and Dessner writes/composes music for film frequently).

So this album is essentially an evolution of that group of buddies now writing pop/synth/folk together about the planets and associated mythologies.

And in true Beatles format – “And James McAlister is the drummer”

One thing is clear – It’s amazing to me that Sufjan Stevens can still sing so effortlessly. The new group album isn’t for everyone, but there are amazing moments throughout if you’re willing to give it a listen.  Here’s my favorite track (probably because it sounds the most like a natural Sufjan song).