While our friends up north are celebrating Canada Day, July 1 also marks the tenth anniversary of one of the most ambitious concept albums in the history of music. Originally marketed as the first release of a planned “Fifty States” series, Sufjan Stevens‘ Michigan is a gushing love letter that explores themes of hope, family, faith and love, but not without acknowledging personal struggles as well as the hardships the state itself has experienced.
To say that Stevens pulled out all the bells and whistles on the multi-layered album would be putting it mildly, as the talented musician played no less than twenty-three instruments (twenty-four if you count his voice), in addition to handling the art direction, arrangement, mixing and production duties. That doesn’t account for the other eight musicians who contributed to the project.
While in some cases less is more, Michigan doesn’t suffer from overproduction, nor do the instruments or vocals overshadow one another. What you find instead are lush canvas for the soft-singing, yet passionate Stevens to paint his pictures upon, as he takes the listener on a journey throughout the Great Lakes State.
Consequence of Sound does a nice job explaining why Michigan is much more than a tribute from one of its native sons in their feature, Five Reasons Sufjan Stevens’ Michigan Gave Us Hope.
This might be the first mention of Sufjan Stevens on this blog, but it most certainly won’t be the last. Until next time, I will leave you with the sprawling, eight+ minute call to action, “Detroit, Lift Up Your Weary Head!”
It is the desire of many a baseball fan to criss-cross the country, hitting all of the Major League stadiums his or her time and wallet will allow. For some folks this dream becomes reality and they successfully attend games at a few different parks. However very few “hit for the cycle” and make it to every field.
While this lifelong White Sox fan would love to take part in such adventures, I am even more enamored with the idea of visiting various music locales throughout the country. Living close to Chicago, I have had the pleasure of attending shows at several establishments in the past twenty-five years, including the late, great Lounge Ax. Unfortunately a trek to Maxwell’s in Hoboken, New Jersey will remain a fantasy, as it was announced yesterday that the famed club is shutting its doors July 31. I guess the next best thing to being there is living vicariously through other fan’s recollections, including renowned music critic Jim Derogatis, who offered up his eulogy this afternoon. There is also a slew of concert footage shot at Maxwell’s on YouTube, such as this classic 1993 Stereolab offering:
If you care to chime in with your memories of Maxwell’s, please leave a comment below. R.I.P. to another legendary music hall.
Ahead of their much-anticipated sophomore release, Good Man Down, The David Mayfield Parade have just premiered a video for “Human Cannonball” via Paste Magazine.
In support of the new album, which is scheduled to be released April 1st, the band will embark on a tour, beginning March 22 in Oklahoma. For more information, please check their official site.