Back in the heady days of 2019 when there wasn’t an overbearing new existential crisis lurking around every weekend The Killers put out a song that was unmistakably political in nature. It also felt unmistakably like a track Bruce Springsteen would have recorded in 1984. (And I mean that as high praise).
Now that 2020 is upon us and there are layers and layers and layers of crises weighing upon the collective psyche of the world The Killers went back to the studio and recorded an updated version of Land of the Free.
They’re both great.
Without a hint of irony, malice, or contempt Sufjan has taken it upon himself to pen a biographical snapshot of Tonya Harding. In the most direct way possible; this is the type of song writing that Sufjan is known for. He does his research, he’s meticulous, and above all else he’s earnest in his endeavor. Both versions of the track are great (although my personal favorite is Tonya (In Eb Major) which is listed first below.
Before you skip down and listen I encourage you to read the post Sufjan wrote about the song. It can be found here http://music.sufjan.com/album/tonya-harding.
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.
It’s not the most conventional of Christmas tracks, but it’s a perfect slice of Sufjan’s trademark layered arrangement. I love this song.
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
Really nothing else to be said about this one. Just watch it.
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
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).
So I might start blogging again. But it will need to be here. Not on my own paid for server. Outside of a few random months back in 2012 I never made enough money through ads and affiliate links to pay for hosting anyway.
So now TWF lives here. Maybe there will be new music posted. Maybe there won’t.
If you’ve been a reader here on TWF over the years you know that I have long been a proponent of Zach Williams. His current band is The Lone Bellow and their sophomore album is widely available starting next week. If you’d like to take a listen before you buy NPR’s First Listen is streaming the album now.
I highly recommend seeing them in a live setting as their energy and harmonies are infectious. I’ve never again witnessed someone signing so passionately as I did when The Lone Bellow played a small concert venue here in Indianapolis. For a hint at what you can expect take a second and watch their Tiny Desk Concert.
Enjoy the music.