Saturday, December 10, 2005

Christianity Today Feels the Illinoise

Christianity Today has put Sufjan Stevens' Illinois on the honorable mention list for Best Christian Albums of 2005. When I saw this I had two happy thoughts - "wow, evangelicals have really broadened their definition of Christian art since I was in college (I clearly remember an editorial in the school paper claiming DC Talk was too edgy for Christian ears) and the other was a mental picture of Sufjan Stevens performing Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois to a bewildered audience at the Dove awards. We can only hope and pray.

8 comments:

Scott said...

It's hardly a "christian" album, especially compared to Seven Swans, but it should win just about every award it can seeing as it's far and away the best album of 2005.

Crystal said...

Agreed!! It is too much AWESOME!! I am really diggin' Sufjan Christmas album too!!

Lauren said...

Sufjan Stevens... Hmmm... I've never seen him on VH1, MTV, or CMT. Does he really exist???

Kim Traynor said...

I love Illinois so much I checked out A Sun Came from the library but I didn't like it nearly as much. Is Michigan as good as Illinois? And where do you get the Christmas album?

For those of you who haven't heard Sufjan Stevens, Amazon.com has two excellent songs available for FREE download!

Scott said...

Lauren,

Stevens isn't on TV. You might catch one of his songs, Chicago, on the radio every once in a while if you're listening to college radio station or something of that sort. Better just to get the album.



Kim,

A Sun Came pretty much sucks, actually. It's his first album and it was when he was still a graphic designer full time and didn't really even consider himself a musician.

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Michigan is fantastic. It's not the same as Illinoise though in that it's much less composed. There's still a lot of multi instrument tracks, and before Ilinoise I would have said it was really in depth with it's arrangements, but Illinoise just blows it away there.

Where Michigan is maybe a smidgen better than Illinoise is in it's lyrics. Stevens grew up in Michigan and went to college in Holland so he has a lot of personal connection to the state. I think it shows in his writing. Plus, a lot of Michigan is in pretty dire financial straits, and he does a really nice job of painting some of those pictures in songs like Flint or The Upper Peninsula.

Romulus is enough to make a grown man cry, and Vito's Ordination Song and Oh God, Where Are You Now? are both excellent, excellent, excellent Christian meditation songs.

So yeah, Michigan is excellent. I picked it as the best album of 2003.

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FYI, in case you didn't know, Stevens released a "true Christian" album last year called Seven Swans. Not bad, but not great. But not bad. Very acoustic. Just an acoustic guitar and a banjo mostly.

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The Christmas stuff has never been released. I don't think you can get it off iTunes or whatever, though I haven't checked. I guess it was just some tapes he made for friends and family that later found it's way to the p2p sites.

I'd offer to burn you a copy, but I know you guys aren't into that "illegal" Internet stuff.

Kim Traynor said...

Thanks for the info Scott! XRT has been playing Chicago and Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts. Go XRT! Do you still listen to that station?

Scott said...

No, not really. Too much blues, John "Cougar" Mellencamp, and icky prog rock.

Kim Traynor said...

I can't complain about the Blues, but all the Mellencamp is a head scratcher - I like Pink Houses well enough, but you'd think the guy was Bruce Springsteen the way they kiss his butt every time he comes to town. I think it might have more to do with political sympathies than music. Oh well!

Since I've got you here - how would you define "prog" rock and what is so bad about it?