Entries tagged with: Sufjan Stevens

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words by Black Bubblegum, photos by Ryan Muir

Steve Albini in Shellac
Shellac

"We're taking a bath, but I don't care," Barry Hogan told [Sasha Frere-Jones]. We were standing in the makeshift production office for the All Tomorrow's Parties festival, at Kutsher's, a resort in the Catskills.

Kutsher's, where Muhammad Ali trained and a thousand schticks were born, was once the jewel of the Borscht Belt. The main venue at Kutsher's, the Stardust Ballroom, has a capacity of 2,800. But Hogan seemed largely unbothered that only 1,800 tickets to ATP had sold. It is 2009, after all.

"My name is Sufjan Stevens and I am going to play all of my Seven Swans album. That should be a good early afternoon hangover sort of thing"

Considering the bad coffee situation and the fun that I had the day before, Sufjan was spot on. Clad in tie-dye that the band had purchased at the general store at Kutsher's, the five piece were delicate, light and lilting. Sufjan's bright banjo strums and songs, like the sunny "Sister", resonated so well in the Stardust Ballroom. The Seven Swans album was an excellent choice for a wake-up set on the second day of the three day upstate NY festival (Saturday, September 12, 2009).

After Sufjan, I wandered over to catch a crew of young Aussies named Bridezilla. Though their name is a touch offputting, guitarist/vocalist Holiday Sidewinder has a sexy and breathy coo that recalled PJ Harvey and their her cocktail-dress-ed crew were a surprise and a delight.

Grouper were next, and as a fan of 2008's Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill, I was eager to check out Liz Harris's ambient soundscapes. Playing to a projection of an ocean at night, the stage show wasn't much visually but the tides of noise was otherworldly.

Conversely, Black Dice in the same room was a psychedelic mindfuck. Blasts of tribal noise beats nodded heads and shook them in equal measure.

As a fan of Bradford Cox, it was great to see him pull a doubleheader on Saturday, beginning with Atlas Sound. Rolling solo with guitar, harmonica, and some backing tracks, Cox was engaging both in song and with between song banter. I would regrettably end up missing Deerhunter's set a few hours later. Drowned in Sound was there though:

Bradford Cox is a picture of serenity as he swaps his shirt for a more tasteful number and leads Deerhunter into their Saturday night set. He announces that this will be their last performance for some time, causing the band to roll out the hits in quick-fast fashion. They gallop through 'Cryptograms' and 'Nothing Ever Happened', the positively herculean double guitar sound feeling unstoppable and a sense of jubilation ricocheting between the walls as people succumb to these great big shining pop songs. The closing 'Calvary Scars' is a slab of beautiful kraut-pop, with Lockett Pundt's metallic Tim Gane-esque strum leading the way, face-painted kids jerking their bodies back and forth, and Cox looking genuinely sad that this will be the last time these songs will be wrung from his fingers and throat for a while.
Anti-Pop Consortium was my next venture, the first time I had ever seen the crew though I was a long time fan. On the Stardust Ballroom system, APC's distorted and creative beats sounded amazing but save for Beans energetic movement, I was less than impressed with their live show. Live hip hop is hard to pull off, and those who try should heed the great Rakim who said "to me MC means move the crowd". If you want to give them a chance, they're at Santos Party House on September 29th.

Sleepy Sun were line checking when I got back to the second stage, with vocalist Rachael Williams checking her levels in the monitor

"Check. Check. I. Hi. Me. You. All of you. Us. Getting nervous."

If they had nerves, the band channeled them into positive energy. Sleepy Sun's influences fit right in with their hometown, San Francisco, as the band dabble in a psychedelic California sound with some krautrock-y elements. I was most struck by their fantastic drummer Brian Tice as well as vocalist Williams, who ripped out a solo that had the crowd shouting and applauding. Wayne Coyne watched the band from stage left, clearly impressed.

After an elongated line check, El-P came on and with a four-piece band (Chin Chin) and hypeman (Mighty Quinn) to the sound of "Tasmanian Space Coaster". I have a soft spot for El-Producto's Blade Runner beats and post-apocalyptic rhyme styles, and it was great to see a Hip Hop artist who actually puts an emphasis on his live show. As a matter of fact, El-P put a little too much of himself out there, almost falling off the stage after pogo-ing around during "Smithereens". Careful dude... we need a follow-up to I'll Sleep When You're Dead.

I hadn't seen Akron/Family since the then more acoustic-centric band played Tonic many years ago (with Hamid Drake?) and it was refreshing to see their energy were still in place. Against a backdrop of a tie-dyed American flag, the band played a rousing and ripping set. It's good to see that the loss of Ryan Vanderhoof to a Buddhist center hasn't slowed them a bit.

Autolux had the discordant riffs, feedback squalls, and a 90s alt punk sound to hit all of the right influences (Joy Division, Sonic Youth, etc), but unfortunately didn't really distinguish themselves from their influences. Autolux isn't offensive by any means, just not compelling or distinctive, and I find it a touch disappointing that guitarist Greg Edwards was a member of Failure (a band that I dug).

Dead Meadow and their fuzzy freakout psych blues were riffing on Stage Two towards the end of the Autolux set, but by half way in, the crowd had diminished considerably due to Shallac on the main. For shame, as the trio played a ripping set!

continued below...

Continue reading "ATP NY 2009 - Day 2 pics & review (Atlas Sound, Deerhunter, El-P, Boss Hog, Shellac, Animal Collective, Dead Meadow...) "

photos by Ryan Muir

DOWNLOAD: Sufjan Stevens - Movement VI--Isorhythmic Night Dance with Interchanges (MP3)

Sufjan Stevens

When Sufjan Stevens took the stage to a packed room for the opening set of ATP NY's Day Two, the Detroit singer promised to go easy on peoples' headaches. "This will be an early-afternoon hangover special," he promised, explaining that the set would draw heavily on Seven Swans, his gentle, spare 2004 debut. He started with "All the Trees of the Fields Will Clap Their Hands," in which a plinking banjo riff suggested a tiny music box, mesmerizing and intricate.

Stevens was breathy and hushed, and his backing band -- all in matching tie-die shirts purchased at the grounds' kitsch-stuffed gift shop -- slowly built up songs around him. In keeping with the mellow vibes, "The Dress Looks Nice On You" played like particularly chaste make-out music: "I can see a lot of life he you," he cooed, "I can see a lot of bright in you/ And I think the dress looks nice on you." Someone in the back of the room wolf-whistled. As far as Christian post-folk pick-up lines go, this was pretty racy stuff. [Rolling Stone]

The pics here are from Sufjan's ATP NY set on Saturday. Jesus Lizard played on Friday. Flaming Lips on Sunday.

Sufjan has a string of 'small club' dates coming up. And he's appearing with the Osso Quartet at the start of their Run Rabbit Run tour which will also include a screening of the new Sufjan BQE DVD. A new MP3 from the forthcoming BQE album, is posted above.

The BQE album tracklist, and the rest of the ATP pictures, below...

Continue reading "Sufjan Stevens - 'Seven Swans' ATP pics, a BQE MP3"

DOWNLOAD: Shannon Stephens - In Summer in the Heat (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Fol Chen - The Longer U Wait EP (ZIP)

Sufjan Stevens

Tickets for the NYC shows on Sufjan Steven's upcoming tour with Cryptacize go on sale this Saturday (August 15th) at 10am...

10-04: New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom (tix)
10-05: New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom (tix)
10-06: Brooklyn, NY - Music Hall of Williamsburg (tix)
10-07: Brooklyn, NY - Music Hall of Williamsburg (tix)
Also there's the BQE screenings coming up, which just added an extra showing.

Speaking sof Sufjan Stevens, Shannon Stephens, an Asthmatic Kitty labelmate of his, has a new album, The Breadwinner, coming out September 8th. It'll be her first in nearly 10 years. Sufjan played drums on her album that came out in 2000. He also interviewed her that same year...

Sufjan Stevens: This is a business question. Do you acknowledge any sort of christian market, or is that bunk? Would you be willing to participate in the christian market?

Shannon Stephens: Honestly, I feel that the christian music market was created out of a need for safety by separation. People wanted to know that the music they were listening to would not contaminate their souls or the souls of their children. The truth is that we are not contaminated by our culture, but by our own hearts. I do think it's important to feed the fire as little as possible, but shutting out the world and creating a safe subculture is not what Christ commanded us to do. Rather than making absolute judgments about christian bands or labels, I try to take them on an individual basis. Sometimes people ask me if I play "christian music"--I don't even know what to say. I'm a Christian, and I play music, but is it all praise and worship? No. I feel more comfortable outside of the box, where things are more dangerous and oftentimes more real.

"In Summer in the Heat" from Shannon's new record, is above. Tracklist and album art are below.

Cryptacize recently recorded a live session that was just posted as a free download and video on Luxury Wafers. Grab that here

Another band on Asthmatic Kitty, Fol Chen, recently put out a free remixes EP, The Longer U Wait, with contributions from "Liars, Simone White, Epstein AKA Roberto Lange, Rafter and more!" That's linked above, with art, tracklist and tour dates below...

Continue reading "Sufjan Stevens tickets, Shannon Stephens, a free Fol Chen EP"

Speaking of the BQE, 92YTribeca added a 3rd show/screening (on sale now)

by Andrew Frisicano

DOWNLOAD: Aaron Dessner - We Were Born (from the Long Count) (MP3)

The Long Count

The Long Count
Oct 28, 30 & 31 at 8pm

Bryce Dessner, Aaron Dessner, and Matthew Ritchie

In an inspired collision of creative worlds, three inexhaustibly original artists--brothers Bryce Dessner and Aaron Dessner of indie rock royalty The National and omnivorous visual art phenomenon Matthew Ritchie--combine talents to create a song-filled myth about the beginning of time. A feast of images, instrumentals, and songs thick with primordial mystery, The Long Count pairs Ritchie's protean forms with a twelve-piece orchestra and the Dessners' gothic mix of electric and orchestral sounds.

Guest vocalists Kim and Kelley Deal (The Breeders [who are at the Bowery August 18th & 19th]), Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond), and Matt Berninger (The National) round out the line-up in this visionary collaboration between music and art.

The MP3 above is the first musical glimpse at the above-described (and previously mentioned) Long Count project. The heavy minimalist influence on the track makes the role of those guest vocalists even more curious. Single tickets for the Long Count, and all the BAM Next Wave concerts, go on sale September 8th. A video trailer for the show, which falls on and around Halloween, is below. More Brooklyn Halloween show options HERE.

Shara Worden has been keeping super busy and impressing Decemberists audiences across the country when she sings her part in the Hazards of Love production (and when she's doing Bob Dylan). Upcoming Decemberists dates include September 21st in Montclair, NJ.

Kim Deal, in addition to the above-mentioned BAM and Bowery shows, will be in NYC (and around the country) with the Pixies in November. The shows at Hammerstein Ballroom are now on sale.

The National recently played a set at All Points West in Jersey City.

Worden/National collaborator Sufjan Stevens premiered his show "The BQE" as part of BAM's Next Wave Festival in 2007. That show is being released as a DVD and going on tour, as is Sufjan himself.

Also below is a video from "a 20-minute animated and musical collaboration developed by Bryce Dessner and Matthew Ritchie" that premiered at the Kitchen in March (Sufjan Stevens played the harmonium), and trailers and music (!) for the other BAM Next Wave commissions including Imaginary City (the So Percussion show), Terra Nova (the DJ Spooky/ICE collaboration) and Meredith Monk's Songs of Ascension...

Continue reading "an MP3 from the upcoming National-Breeders-Worden show @ BAM, Long Count ticket info, Next Wave video previews"

Sufjan Stevens

One of our favorite things around here [at Asthmatic Kitty] is seeing our artists meander around the country spreading great music, so you can imagine our giddiness when two of our artists decided to pal up and tagteam an east-of-Lake-Minnentonka tour. The team? Sufjan Stevens and Cryptacize.

We wanted to make this as equitable for all of the fans so there are a few things to read carefully here. Due to the sizes of the venues, tickets will be limited. With that in mind, we wanted to avoid ticket scalpers and ensure that as many fans as possible could attend these shows. Tickets must be picked up at will-call the night of the show (not mailed), tickets are non-transferable and purchaser must present a government-issued photo ID. Also, there is a two ticket limit per purchaser. Thanks for your patience and understanding.

Tickets go on sale Saturday the 15th. We'll post the purchase links on Thursday, but the venues will be handling the purchasing and will turn those on when they can (we have no control over what time Saturday they turn the links "on").

Coincidentally, Sufjan also has a film and corresponding soundtrack about the BQE to be released in October as well. Although this tour has nothing to do with that... [Asthmatic Kitty]

Those tour dates, which kick off September 21st in Philadelphia, end with a four-night NYC run. Two nights at the Bowery Ballroom (October 4th and 5th) and two nights at the Music Hall of Williamsburg (October 6th and 7th). According to Asthamtic Kitty, tickets will go on sale sometime Saturday.

The new dates come after Sufjan's September 12th set at ATP NY, but before his October 24th appearance at the 92YTribeca BQE screening.

Cryptacize last visited NYC in July while on tour with Casiotone for the Painfully Alone.

Full dates below...

Continue reading "Sufjan Stevens - 2009 small venue tour (dates), 4 NYC shows "

OssoOsso

In late October Osso will begin a North American tour in support of their debut record Run Rabbit Run, a re-arrangement of Sufjan Stevens' Enjoy Your Rabbit--a genre-bending electronic instrumental song cycle referencing the animals of the Chinese zodiac--for the string quartet. The album is due out October 6 on Asthmatic Kitty Records. Also featured on the tour will be screenings of Stevens' The BQE, a 40-minute symphonic and cinematic exploration of New York's infamous Brooklyn-Queens Expressway....Asthmatic Kitty recording artist DM Stith...will also perform.
Tickets for the NYC BQE screenings on October 24th, which will have Sufjan in attendance, are currently sold out. Sufjan will be playing a set at ATP NY on September 12th. Full dates and more info on the Osso + BQE tour (with DM Stith on most dates) below...

Continue reading "Osso Quartet playing re-arranged Sufjan Stevens album on tour w/ BQE movie & Asthmatic Kitty label-mate DM Stith"

Tickets are on sale for the BQE screenings (early & late) (thx arakias).

Sufjan BQE

"Sufjan Stevens premiered The BQE, a film and musical suite exploring New York City's infamous Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Next Wave Festival in November 2007. The critically applauded performance featured 36 performers including a band, a wind and brass ensemble, string players, a horn section, projected film footage of the expressway and five hula hoopers. On October 20, Asthmatic Kitty Records will release The BQE (also available via Rough Trade in the UK, P-Vine in Japan, Spunk in Australia).

The comprehensive package features the CD soundtrack, the DVD of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway film footage, a 40-page booklet with extensive liner notes & photographs and an accompanying stereoscopic 3-D Viewmaster® reel. Furthermore, Asthmatic Kitty will release a limited edition double gatefold vinyl edition of The BQE on 180-gram vinyl with a large-scale 32-page booklet including liner notes, photographs and a black and white version of a 40-page BQE-themed Hooper Heroes comic book. View a video trailer of The BQE below.

On October 24, 92YTribeca will host the premiere screening of The BQE DVD with an introduction by Stevens. At the screening, the Osso Quartet will perform selections from Run Rabbit Run. Tickets for this event go on sale July 23."

Sufjan Stevens is playing ATP NY on September 12th. BQE trailer and more info below...

Continue reading "Sufjan Stevens releasing The BQE, appearing at NY screening"

Sufjan Stevens w/ Clogs @ BAM in February (more by Kyle Dean Reinford)
Sufjan Stevens

We are extremely excited to announce the addition of Sufjan Stevens to the ATP-curated Saturday lineup. Stevens, who will be releasing Run Rabbit Run (a re-arrangement of his 2001 album Enjoy Your Rabbit) in October, has not played a US show in over two years, and this is sure to be a special performance. [ATP NY]
Sufjan is one of the most recent additions to ATP NY, running September 11th-13th in Monticello, NY. It'll be his first show in a while, though over the past year Sufjan has made appearances joining St. Vincent at BAM, The Welcome Wagon at St. Paul's Lutheran and the Clogs with My Brightest Diamond (which you can see above) again at BAM .

Sufjan will be joined on the Saturday bill by new additions Shellac, Circulatory System and Grouper (who we previously announced).

On the Sunday, the Flaming Lips-curated bill has added Crystal Castles, who has been touring North America and Europe. They're also on the schedule for All Points West on August 1st.

Other Sunday additions are Super Furry Animals (who are also playing Maxwell's and Highline Ballroom), Boris, Low Lows and Oneida, the latter of which will perform a special set, described below...

"Oneida presents the Ocropolis" - where Oneida will transport the impetus, spirit and community of their multidisciplinary studio/performance space, The Ocropolis, to ATP for a full day of improvisation, collaboration, and recording, combined with the astounding Mighty Robot Visuals light crew.
Limited tickets for the fest are still on sale. Ongoing coverage of ATP NY and related NYC-area shows HERE. Full lineup so far below...

Continue reading "ATP NY adds Sufjan Stevens, Boris, Shellac, Crystal Castles & more - full updated lineup"

by Black Bubblegum

DOWNLOAD: The Metermaids - Nightlife in Illinoise Mixtape (Zipped MP3s)
DOWNLOAD: Hezekiah - Cure For THe Common $oul Mixtape (ZShare Link)

Styles P and Black Thought (The Roots) @ BHHF (more here)
Styles P

Though daily tickets are now sold out, you can still buy tickets for both nights of The Rock The Block Fest going down at Southpaw on August 6th & 7th. The curiously Thursday-Friday festival scheduled the mighty Styles P (my favorite performer at Brooklyn Hip Hop Fest) for Aug 6th, with State Property mainstay and recent Cash Money signee Freeway filling the slot for Aug 7th. Metermaids and NSR as well as Hezekiah and Kimberly Nicole get the assist for days one and two respectively.

The Metermaids released their Nightlife in Illinoise mixtape in the tail end of last year (download that above), featuring material sampled from Sufjan Stevens's Illinoise LP mixed with their Nightlife LP. The crew recently released the Live At Arlene's Grocery EP in the pay-what-you-want format and are scheduled to play Arlene's Grocery again on July 23rd with Prayers For Atheists.

Illadelphian and Roots cohort Hezekiah released his Cure For The Common $oul Mixtape (downloadable above). Featuring appearances by Freeway, Reef The Lost Cauze (Army Of The Pharoahs), and many others, Hezekiah rhymes and remixes tracks by Jay-Z, Kanye West, Will I Am, Zap Mama, and many others.

The Roots are scheduled to take on Highline Ballroom for the umpteenth time on July 8th (tonight), tickets are still available.

Styles P tour dates as well as a live video of "Come Through" at BHHF 2009 below...

Continue reading "Rock The Block hip hop fest @ Southpaw in August (Styles P, Freeway, Metermaids & more) "

by Andrew Frisicano

Gabriel Kahane

[Gabriel] Kahane is twenty-seven, and his listeners seem roughly the same age. He is well on his way to developing an original creative personality; his music absorbs everything from nineteen-twenties neoclassicism to blue-grass and modern indie pop, with potent melodies bridging the disparate styles. [New Yorker]
Kahane kicks off a residency at the Rockwood Music Hall on June 1st (tonight). He'll be there Mondays at 10pm through the rest of the month.

On June 12th, Kahane also performs at PS 139 Auditorium (330 Rugby Rd, Brooklyn) as part of the Ditmas Park Concert Series...

"Come hear the remarkably creative and talented singer-songwriter/pianist Gabriel Kahane, performing with a host of special and equally talented friends."
One of the singer's most well-known friends would have to be Sufjan Stevens, who appears on Kahane's eponymous 2008 disc. Kahane in turn is credited with "the piano cadenza on Sufjan Stevens' 'You are the Blood'" from the Dark Was the Night compilation.

Kahane's Craigslistlieder, a 2007 song cycle with lyrics compiled from Craigslist posts, has been re-released as a free download from Family Records. New single "LA" is streaming on MySpace.

All tour dates, with a video of Kahane performing Craigslistlieder material, below...

Continue reading "Gabriel Kahane - June residency at Rockwood Music Hall"

by Bill Pearis

DOWNLOAD: I Was a King - Norman Bleik (MP3)

I was a king

Oslo, Norway's I Was a King are headed to America for a fairly extensive US tour, including two stops in NYC: May 30 at Mercury Lounge (with UK's great The Wave Pictures) and May 31 at Union Hall. The band's self-titled debut came out earlier this month via The Control Group, who have released albums by The Figurines and El Perro Del Mar.

For all intents and purposes, I Was A King are a duo: Frode Strømstad, who's a Norwegian indie gadabout and owner of Hype City Records) and Anne Lise Frøkedal (who also fronts her own excellent band, Harrys Gym). The album was actually made in Brooklyn, at the Ladybug Transistor's Marlborough Farms studio with big help from head Ladybug Gary Olsen and fellow Norwegian Emil Nikolaisen of Serena Maneesh. Sufjan Stevens helps out on a few tracks, as does Danielson. Live, the band is fleshed out to a five-piece, including ex-Serena Maneesh member Håvard Krogedal on bass.

If you like '60s pysch pop, '90s psych pop (Elephant 6), Dinosaur Jr. and Teenage Fanclub, chances are you're going to like I Was a King. Teenage Fanclub, actually, are punnily namechecked on the band's first single, "Norman Bleik," which you can download at the top of this post. Video of them performing the song on Norwegian television and all tour dates below...

Continue reading "I Was A King (from Norway) - 2009 Tour Dates, video & MP3"

photos by Kyle Dean Reinford

Shuffle Mode

"Shuffle Mode," the Brooklyn Philharmonic program on Thursday night [2/26] at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, put the orchestra on an equal footing with two indie-rock bands: Clogs, from Brooklyn, and Bell Orchestre, from Montreal. Both are connected to better-known indie-rock bands: two members of Clogs are in the National, and two members of Bell Orchestre are in Arcade Fire.

More to the point, both include conservatory-trained musicians writing what's essentially chamber music, using the same pool of ideas as nominally classical contemporary composers: Minimalist repetition, elements of traditional music and a rediscovery of melody. [NY Times]

All three groups were on stage at the same time (playing in "shuffle mode"). Though the music is/was mostly intrumental, as promised, there were guest vocalists. Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond) sang one song with Clogs and the Brooklyn Philharmonic, and then Shara and Sufjan Stevens joined Clogs for the song "We Were Here". More pictures below...

Continue reading "Clogs, Bell Orchestre, the Brooklyn Philharmonic (and Sufjan Stevens & Shara Worden) @ BAM (Shuffle Mode) - pics"

by Andrew Frisicano

DOWNLOAD: Chris Schlarb- Twilight Athens (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: DM Stith - Around the Lion Legs w/ Sufjan & Shara (MP3)

DM StithIn December, Asthmatic Kitty signee DM(Dave) Stith released the Curtain Speech EP, a five song collection (featuring the 7-minute epic "Just Once") that put him on the indie-pop radar.

On Friday, February 27, Stith will visit the Cake Shop for an early 8:30pm set on a bill that includes local spaz-rock Pterodactyl, Chicago's Sonoi, and a TBA.($7, 21+)

Stith's full-length, Heavy Ghost, out March 10, will feature guests that include Shara from My Brightest Diamond, and Asthmatic string-puller Sufjan Stevens (performing on "stapler, scissors, and a stationary fan" - via Stith's Dec 18th blog). The album, "recorded in bedrooms, churches, kitchens and instrumental rehearsal halls around the East Coast," comes packaged in a sleeve desgined by Stith, a graphic designer.

DM Stith also visited Daytrotter about a week ago. Of the session he says, "If you listen to only one, make it 'Braid of Voices.'"

His new record's first single,"Pity Dance," just came out on iTunes, with a video (see below), and a b-side a cover of Randy Newman's "Suzanne."

Chris SchlarbStith labelmate and fellow ghost-lover Chris Schlarb is performing his 2007 debut, Twilight & Ghost Stories, on Saturday, Feb 7th at The Stone with 8pm and 10pm sets.

The album, an adventurous, contemplative found-sound composition, was pieced together from snipets submitted to Schlarb by fifty musicians. It was "performed" in Athens, GA, on December 8, 2007, using only Section IV (of X). You can read the full story here), and check out a piece of the performance, which Schlarb titled "Twilight Athens" (MP3 above).

On the Red Hot benefit comp Dark Was the Night, due next Tuesday, Stith contributed backup vocals to the Sufjan-Buck 65-Serengeti track, "The Blood Pt. 2." The song remixes the Castanet's "You Are the Blood," which Sufjan also covers, and extends to nearly 11 minutes, on the album.

Asthmatic Kitty's Rafter was just in town and played a show at Cake Shop. All DM Stith dates, the video, and new album tracklist, below...

Continue reading "Asthmatic Kitty's DM Stith dates & video, Chris Schlarb's upcoming NYC shows"

words by Lauren Mooney, photos by Stephanie F. Black

Welcome Wagon

The Brooklyn church smelled like frankincense and was packed with folks in scarfs and sweaters and hats -- Andy Friedman & the Other Failures opened up the evening with rockabilly-tinged folk songs about drinking wine all day and going on road trips. The sense of heartbreak and longing for middle American landscapes was so much that Friedman broke a guitar string and had to borrow Welcome Wagon's for the closing numbers.

Then one of Asthmatic Kitty Records' latest creations got ready to take the stage -- the husband and wife team (Rev. Vito Aiuto and Monique) that make up Welcome Wagon are actually the pastor and wife of a congregation that meets at this same place on Sunday evenings. You can see why this church works in Williamsburg - they were the perfect combination of hip and genuine - if there is such a thing.

Sufjan Stevens played producer and came onstage first to make sure the stage was in order. And then the couple took the stage joined by many others - including back-up singers plucked from the choir and Stevens himself on banjo, guitar, backup vocals and triangle.

The most endearing thing was how the Reverend and his wife faced each other throughout the performance - and often broke into slight smiles. All the songs from the record were played - stopping every four songs or so to exemplify a real "welcome wagon" experience which consisted of giving away Monique-made cookies, the record and Polish sausage from Greenpoint. The winners were decided on who had moved to New York the most recently, who had traveled the farthest from the show and who had a Christmas birthday ("since you get gypped" said Aiuto).

Candy Stations added a warmth to the show by projecting visuals (flowers, stars and snowflakes) on big white balloons that hovered above the stage and twinkling white Christmas lights were draped over microphone stands. The highlight of the show (besides the unexpected giveaways) was the cover of The Smiths' "Half A Person." Morrissey's woe is me candor was turned into a joyous explosion of musical cuteness.

Welcome Wagon will be playing with Andy Friedman & the Other Failures again, at the latter's album release show at Southpaw in Brooklyn on January 29th. Tickets are on sale. More pictures from the last show below...

Continue reading "The Welcome Wagon, Sufjan Stevens & Andy Friedman played St. Paul's Lutheran (pics), next show is Southpaw (tix)"

DOWNLOAD: The Welcome Wagon - Sold! To the Nice Rich Man (MP3)

Welcome Wagon

The debut album by The Welcome Wagon unveils a ramshackle sing-a-long enterprise of a Presbyterian pastor (the Rev. Vito Aiuto) and his wife (Monique) wrestling out the influences of folk music, religion, popular culture, and church tradition in a collection of songs that is as soulful as it is good-humored. This gorgeous brew is reflected in the group's repertoire, which unflinchingly consolidates a vast history of "sacred" song traditions: from Old Testament psalms, to Presbyterian Psalters of the 17th century, to iconoclastic pop innovators of the 1960s (The Velvet Underground), to charismatic Catholics of the 1970s (Lenny Smith), and into the melancholy lovelorn pop of the 1980s (The Smiths). There are even a few originals. Armed with a particleboard parlor guitar and a plastic glockenspiel, pastor and wife stumble their way through an arresting catalog of hymns--hallowed and unholy--with the simple desire to know their Maker--and to know each other--more intimately. The result--due, in part, to producer/arranger Sufjan Stevens--is an awe-inspiring collection of hymns, pop covers, and originals that render soulful stunts from quiet skirmishes of home recordings. [Asthmatic Kitty]
Since we were already on the subject of Asthmatic Kitty releases that Sufjan is involved with that are coming out next week, I thought it was a good time to mention this one too. Welcome to the Welcome Wagon is out December 9th which is the same night of the release show at a church in Brooklyn...

Continue reading "The Welcome Wagon - Sufjan-produced album, release show"

DOWNLOAD: DM Stith - Just Once (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: DM Stith - Thanksgiving Moon (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: DM Stith - Be My Baby (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: DM Stith - Around the Lion Legs w/ Sufjan & Shara (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Sufjan Stevens - That was the Worst Christmas Ever (MP3)

DM Stith

On December 9th, we [Asthmatic Kitty] will proudly unveil the very first release from DM Stith: the EP, Curtain Speech.

We signed David Stith after listening to just two demo songs. Yes, they were that good. And then, after a year of careful recording and revising, Stith finished Curtain Speech. It is an EP that - we admit - is little more than a tease for the upcoming 2009 full length, Heavy Ghost. Still, Curtain Speech is exquisite; a complex, atmospheric set of whispered songs. This EP gives us something to savor while we wait.

David and Sufjan don't have anything coming up, but Shara Worden aka My Brightest Diamond has a bunch of shows scheduled.

And since we're talking about Asthmatic Kitty, check out the winning entry in Rafter's recent video contest below...

Continue reading "DM Stith starring Sufjan Stevens & Shara Worden - MP3s"

Dark Was the NightDark Was the Night

"What a fitting day to announce the complete list of artists involved with our upcoming album DARK WAS THE NIGHT - the February 17th 4AD release that will benefit the Red Hot Organization. It's World AIDS Day, and in honor of that, we bring you the exciting news."
More info on the previously mentioned comp below...

Continue reading "Dark Was the Night - full 4AD comp artist list, cover art, etc"

photos by Ryan Muir

BAM

Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent) rocked BAM's Howard Gilman Opera House at BAM's all-night party The Takeover [Saturday] night. While it was a little weird to see a rock show at a sit-down theater, her music was suited to the venue. She manages to somehow sound delicate and strong at the same time, filling the theater with sound, but causing the audience to hold our collective breaths for fear of overwhelming the poor girl. She had five other people on stage with her, with a sax/clarinetist, a pianist and a violinist in addition to a bassist and drummer, lending a chamber pop flavor to the mix.

Let not all this lead you to believe that the girl cannot rock, though. She totally shreds on the guitar. It creates a good incongruousness to her fragile voice.

She played a few new songs, although this was my first time seeing her, so I wouldn't have realized. But they were as well received as the older stuff. Though the show was almost an hour long, she played about seven songs. I don't know if it was the setting, the hour, or what, but each song seemed to last forever (in a good way) creating an ideal atmosphere in which to kind of bliss out.

She wrapped up the show by inviting Sufjan Stevens onstage (he had curated and hosted the night's performances) for a cover of Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight."... [AM NY]

More pictures below...

Continue reading "St Vincent & Sufjan Stevens @ BAM's Takeover, NYC - pics"

BAM

No word on a dunk tank or jumping castle, but the Brooklyn Academy of Music sure knows how to throw a party. And they have asked Sufjan Stevens to curate the music component for an evening that will also include DJs, video art, and horseplay. The event, entitled TAKEOVER, takes place Saturday September 27th, 2008 from 9PM to 4AM.

BAM Howard Gilman Opera House will house the musical selections, which features St. Vincent, The Budos Band, Naomi Shelton & The Gospel Queens and Brooklyn Youth Chorus singing Nico Muhly and other works. Our [Asthmatic Kitty's] good friend Deborah Johnson is providing a video installation. For more details on the event, including a list of films and other activities please visit the TAKEOVER website here.

Tickets are $20. BAM's last takeover featured extinct band Be Your Own Pet. Nico Muhly is performing at (le) poisson rouge tonight (9/9). Naomi Shelton recently played Summerstage with members of The Budos Band who are also her Daptone labelmates. More St Vincent tour dates HERE.

this is pretty cool....

Coloring book

For his final project as an undergrad at England's Huddersfield University, Miller came up with Colour It (Red), a book/compilation combo inspired by his favorite indie rock jams and the (Red) organization, which raises money for the AIDS/HIV-battling Global Fund.

Taking a cue from such indie megahits as LCD Soundsystem's "All My Friends", Panda Bear's "Comfy in Nautica", and Joanna Newsom's "Peach, Plum, Pear", Miller crafted a coloring/activity book sure to tickle pink-- er, make that red-- even the most hardened, poker-faced, arms-crossing indie music fiend.

Can you "help James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem find all his friends" by completing a maze? Care to "make Beirut's carousel pretty by colouring it"? Are you man or woman enough to "find the grizzly bear that does not fit"?? [Pitchfork]

Feist, who played Hammerstein Ballroom last time she was here, plays the Prospect Park Banshell in Brooklyn this Wednesday July 9th. The show is sold out, but you can always listen for free from outside the fence. Feist is also back in NYC on July 25th to appear on Good Morning America.

sing-along @ Carnegie Hall, NYC Feb 13, 2008 (Kathryn Yu, P4K)
Tibet House 2008

Sufjan Stevens treated show-goers to "The Star-Spangled Banner", while Kinks man Ray Davies led a bill-wide sing-along. Also on-hand for the evening of charity and good cheer: Band of Horses, Philip Glass, Marisa Monte, Ashley MacIsaac, Phamie Gow, Tibet-born Nawang Khechog, and the monks of Drepung Gomang. To learn more and find out how you can help, head to the Tibet House U.S. website. [Pitchfork]