Tag Archives: Sufjan Stevens

My Favorite Albums of 2017

Favorite Albums of 2017

IS TIME FLYING BY OR WHAT?! But seriously though, I know a lot of people think 2017 was worse than 2016, but for me, it was a year of growth, rebuilding and renewal, and I feel pretty great about it; I’m still emo, I’m still gay, but sometimes you gotta go through the darkness to see the light, right?

You could say the same for some of the artists and the albums that appear on this list, which are my favorite albums of the year. I say favorite, not top, because let’s be honest, there are other albums that came out this year that might be considered “technically” better than the ones on my list. Even the order of my list could be argued, but fuck it, they’re listed based on how much I love them, not who is a better artist or band, etc.

Anyway, back to that going through the darkness thing – lots of these albums are long-awaited returns for bands and artists that went through similar emotional journeys (or just needed a fucking break), so maybe that’s why some mean more than others to me. At any rate, I’m just happy that good, thoughtful music continues to exist in a world that increasingly doesn’t make much sense. And so, here are my favorite albums of 2017.

20. Sufjan Stevens – The Greatest Gift / Planetarium / Carrie & Lowell Live

a1641995030_10

To say that this was a prolific year for Sufjan would be an understatement. While I know that putting his three releases this year all at number 20 is cheating (and that’s not even counting “Tonya Harding”), there was just too much good stuff not to recognize on this list, and all three of these albums now hold a special place in my heart (and in my Sufjan library).

Favorite Tracks: “Exploding Whale (Doveman Remix)” / “Mercury” / “Should Have Known Better (Live)”

19. Arcade Fire – Everything Now

everything-now

Yes, it falls flat in the middle and there’s not excuse for a song as lame as “Peter Pan,” but the good stuff in Everything Now is really good. “We Don’t Deserve Love” never fails to stop me dead in my tracks.

Favorite Track: “We Don’t Deserve Love”

18. Spoon – Hot Thoughts

58772ccb7a91d17c6fcabfd831d0b46d

I mean they couldn’t not be on this list, sooooooooooo…

Favorite Track: “Tear It Down”

17. St. Vincent – MASSEDUCATION

26e428-20170906-st-vincent-masseduction

Mostly just because of The New Yorker’s profile on her, but also because Annie fucking rules.

Favorite Track: “New York”

16. Conor Oberst – Salutations

conor-oberst-salutations

I was lucky enough to see Mr. Oberst perform in Denver this summer, and the songs on Salutations absolutely thrived when played live. Also, nostalgia, ya know? ALSO, any album that name checks John Muir AND Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin is a winner in my mind.

Favorite Track: “Barbary Coast (Later)”

15. Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.

damn-kendrick-lamar

Obligatory, but well deserving.

Favorite Track: “PRIDE”

14. Perfume Genius – No Shape

9ed94a94

Like, holy CHIC! Super fun and sexy and enduring album.

Favorite Track: “Valley”

13. LCD Soundsystem – american dream

lcd-soundsystem-american-dream-

My personal american dream was fulfilled this summer dancing to “All My Friends” with all my friends at Pitchfork Music Festival, so that’s cool. american dream also slaps.

12. Cigarettes After Sex – Cigarettes After Sex

a2340015657_10

There’s a song literally called “K.” K.

Favorite Track: “Sweet”

11. Laura Marling – Semper Femina

Semper-Femina-Art-1

I’ve always been a big Laura Marling fan, and Semper Femina finds the artist at the top of her game. The album even earned her a Grammy nomination – chic for her!

Favorite Track: “Nothing, Not Nearly”

10. The National – Sleep Well Beast

cpdc6d

Because nothing fits depression better than The National!

Favorite Track: “I’ll Still Destroy You”

9. Lorde – Melodrama

00-square-lorde-album-art

But like who’s the 31 year old that inhabits Lorde’s body? For real though, this albummmmmmm. Soundtrack for a generation I tell ya.

Favorite Track: “Supercut”

8. Rostam – Half-Light

RostamHalf-Light

Listening to this album is like being curled up under a down comforter in some really good lighting with some chic candle burning, and who doesn’t love that? And in these dividing times, what’s a more enduring line than “Everyone of us has felt the lights go down”?

Favorite Track: “EOS”

7. Grizzly Bear – Painted Ruins

600x600bb-10

I mean my Wi-Fi network was named Central and Remote forever – it was also the original name of this blog – so yeah, I am a bit of a Grizzly Bear fanboy. Admittedly, Painted Ruins is still growing on me, however it’s also provided a great reminder of how talented this band is, and I’m glad they decided to come out of hibernation when we needed them the most.

Favorite Track: Tossup between “Neighbors” and “Sky Took Hold”

6. Father John Misty – Pure Comedy

1200x630bb

It’s scary how well this man can lyricize basically every trope about American society and our downfall as humans while making it all sound funny, lovely and heartbreaking at the same time.

Favorite Track: “Total Entertainment Forever”

5. The War on Drugs – A Deeper Understanding

A-Deeper-Understanding-cover-980x980

Really honestly I don’t think a guitar solo has made me weep until this album came around and now there’s three of them on here that do just that. I also don’t think I’ve ever felt as blissed out as I have while listening to “Thinking of a Place” while driving in the mountains.

Favorite Track: “Strangest Thing”

4. Aimee Mann – Mental Illness

163fb9388a43b94b22d4b5d798341a37

I credit Aimee Mann’s Lost in Space” as playing a major role in my personal “musical awakening” in high school. And while there have been great Aimee Mann albums since then, Mental Illness is the first one that leaves me feeling as shook as I felt back in 2003.

Favorite Track: “You Never Loved Me”

3. Feist – Pleasure

Pleasure-cover

I had been anticipating a new album from Feist since 2011’s Metals became my standby lakeside companion in Chicago. Pleasure was well worth the wait, and I’m happy for its existence every day.

Favorite Track: “Baby Be Simple”

2. Lana Del Rey – Lust For Life

C9fskRPVwAIZ247

Lana’s just always kinda been my (and every other gay man’s) thing. I really don’t understand how she releases a new album every other year and they just keep getting better and better. Lust For Life is like, peak Lana, even though I hope the peaks just keep coming like they have been. It’s got everything – breathy ballads, Lana saying “fuck,” a song about drugs and marzipan, trip-hop beats, beaches, music festivals, and “Get Free,” a song that came to define my outlook on 2017 and life in general, a “modern manifesto” that got LANA TO SMILE ON THE ALBUM COVER.

Favorite Track: “Get Free”

1. Fleet Foxes – Crack-Up

crack-up

It was really looking like Fleet Foxes might not ever return, so when the rumors of a new album started swirling around, I tried not to get my hopes up. Then I saw Robin Pecknold open for Joanna Newsom at The Boulder Theater last year, and that had to mean something, right? Little did I know that I was hearing him sing a handful of songs he was working on for what would become Crack-Up, my favorite album of the year, one that exceeded all of my hopes and dreams for what I’d want in new Fleet Foxes material. I really don’t have much to add to what’s already been written about Crack-Up by much more talented writers other than to say the one-two punch of “On Another Ocean (January / June)” and “Fools Errand” reduces me to a puddle of goo every single time. Endless gratitude to these gentlemen for making music, and my favorite album of 2017.

Favorite Track: “Fools Errand”

Leave a comment

Filed under Album Review, Music, Uncategorized

Demo Murk: Sufjan Stevens’ Love Yourself

tumblr_mgnhwuW2wC1qa9n7io1_r1_500Sufjan Stevens’ blog, the title of which he rotates (it’s currently “The Secret Is Loneliness”) is full of little Sufjan nuggets, including pictures of him in Miami, lots of excerpts from the author Emily Post and even some unreleased songs and early demos. A couple of weeks ago, Sufjan uploaded three versions of the song “Love Yourself,” one recorded in 1996, another from 1999 and finally a version from 2011. It’s a great introduction to the evolution of Sufjan’s music over the course of his career, as well as a reminder to those who were thrown off by the electronically heavy Age of Adz that Sufjan has always been fooling around with electronic noises. You can listen to the progression of this sweet little song below.

Leave a comment

Filed under Music

Welcome to Currently Murking

Central and Remote has morphed into Currently Murking, a blog that I actually hope to keep updated.

Instead of focusing on full album reviews, I’ve decided that in addition to a live, constantly updated playlist on Spotify, I’d re-focus the blog to short, daily and weekly posts and music roundups consisting of tunes that are murking me.

First of all, writing full-length album reviews is like, kinda hard and time consuming. Second, many of you probably don’t care what my deep dark thoughts are on many of the albums I love the most beyond me saying “you should listen to this and here’s why and here are a few tracks to get you started.”

Third, contrary to popular belief, Spotify doesn’t have all of the music that is currently murking me, mostly because I’m a music pirate and indulge in albums before the official release date. That’s not to say I don’t monetarily support music by attending more live shows than my bank account says I should and buying many albums once they are officially released. I’m just an impatient music lover.

So with that, welcome to Currently Murking. To get things started, here are a few things that murked me this week:

THOM YORKE DANCING IN ATOMS FOR PEACE’S VIDEO FOR INGENUE

This is pretty self-explanatory.

PHOENIX – BANKRUPT!

The new album from Phoenix, due out April 23, leaked earlier this week. I’ve been hearing whispers that this might be a poorly mixed and not finalized version. Yes, the sound on Bankrupt! Is massive compared to other Phoenix outings, however I’m really enjoying it even if it is devoid of some of the more emo/quiet moments found throughout Phoenix’s catalog. Take a listen to the first single, “Entertainment,” below.

SUFJAN STEVENS RELEASES “ABONDONED SONG” FROM 2010, “GIVE A LITTLE LOVE”

I’m really happy Sufjan has a tumblr, because he does things like release random songs he forgot about but recently found on an old hard drive. Listen to it over on his tumblr here. Things turn wonderfully emotional about a third of the way into the song. Even in this raw form, it’s still murking me. It’s Sufjan Stevens afterall.

Leave a comment

Filed under Music

Sufjan Stevens – “Pleasure Principle” on WNYC

Killing me.  Not to mention that Bryce Dessner from The National decided to drop in on the session as well.

Leave a comment

Filed under Music

Sufjan Stevens @ The Orpheum 10.16.10

I feel like everyone was collectively bracing themselves for what was about to happen on stage at the Orpheum in Minneapolis on Saturday night.  Previous to this tour in support of the just released The Age Of Adz, Sufjan Stevens was known for his lush orchestral arrangements and heavy banjo picking.  A perfectionist in all the right ways, Steven’s back catalogue involves meticulously crafted, precious songs most often enjoyed in private so no one else can see you curled up in the fetal position.

However, anyone who has taken Adz for a spin knows that Stevens has redefined himself as an expert electronic musician, the press release put out by his label Asthmatic Kitty describing some songs as “danceable.”  We will get to the dancing in a minute.

The show started out “normally” enough with Stevens walking on stage and heading straight for the banjo.  With what looked like gently falling digital snow being projected both in front of and behind the band, Stevens crooned the opening phrases of “Seven Swans” in the gentlest of falsettos.  When the band kicked in though around the 4 minute mark, “Seven Swans” hit in a way like never before, the see though screen lifting slowly to reveal everyone on stage as Stevens and the backup singers belted “Cos he is the Lord.”  This was going to be a very loud concert.

And before anyone could catch their breath, Stevens and his 10-member band forged right into “Too Much,” complete with choreographed moves from the backup dancers (wearing old school sci-fi inspired costumes) and jolted dancing from Stevens himself (wearing what looked like sequined garters around both thighs), who played the synthesizer, elevated by a clear podium, like he was worshiping it.

For as engineered as The Age Of Adz is, the songs translated beautifully to the live setting. Two full drum kits, along with the synthesizer and bass, punched out the beats to songs like “Get Real Get Right,” which Stevens said he wrote for Royal Robertson, the schizophrenic artist and self-proclaimed prophet whose art provided inspiration for Adz and appeared in motion behind and often in front of Stevens and his band, creating a dizzying, 3D effect.  When combined with the dizzying arrangements heard in “Age of Adz,” it was sometimes a sensory overload.

These moments were balanced out with the songs “Heirloom” and “Enchanting Ghost” from All Delighted People EP, the latter’s nostalgic guitar line falling softly on the sold out crowd of people who were glued to their seats and respectfully silent during the entire performance.

Yet I don’t think that is the effect that Stevens wished for as he launched into the 26 minute-long “Impossible Soul.”  As the song moved from contemplative narrative to auto tuned heartbreak, the audience started to laugh nervously as the “danceable” section arrived.  I couldn’t tell you who was going more nuts on stage, the backup dancers, who were now wearing new costumes and white-framed sunglasses, or Sufjan, who was twirling around on stage in an almost self-depreciating manner.  Everyone in the audience was absolutely still.

The fact that Stevens would choose to play this beast at a live show is ballsy in the first place, but it actually worked very well live, the multi-layered projections and lights supporting the song cycle and antics on stage.

Even though most should have been aware that this concert was not going to be Sufjan playing the hits, the biggest crowd reaction came during the closing performance of “Chicago.”  The crowd erupted again when Stevens came back on stage for the encore and played a rushed, solo version of “Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois” before moving to the heartbreaking “Casimir Pulaski Day.”  Stevens closed the show anticlimactically with “The Dress Looks Nice On You” from Seven Swans.

Those not familiar with or accepting of Steven’s new musical direction would have left the show disappointed.  Stevens often sang off key, and he completely botched the last movement of “Impossible Soul,” laughing at himself and admitting that it “ruined the mood.”  However, just like The Age Of Adz, this messy, loud, rollercoaster of a concert is an exhilarating new side of Stevens: not perfect, not always familiar, but stirring, deeply moving and enthralling all the same.

Leave a comment

Filed under Concert Review, Music

Album Review: Sufjan Stevens – The Age Of Adz

10 out of 10

Just over a year ago, I attended Sufjan Stevens’ self-proclaimed “workshop” at the 400 Bar in Minneapolis, one stop on a tour of small (and I mean really small) venues that the artist embarked on to showcase some new music, play some old tunes, and start to get back on the scene before the physical release of his ode to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, The BQE.

After explaining how he had wanted to experiment more with his own sound, including the very way he projected his voice, Stevens and crew opened the show with a song he called “Too Much Love.”  The most remarkable things I remember about this moment are 1. Holy shit, I’m about to hear new Sufjan Stevens music…am I going to cry? and 2.  Damn, that’s a lot of bass.  Indeed, the girl standing behind me that night reacted most aptly to the new bass-driven, electronic, groovy sounds that fell upon the crowd; “Fuck yeah!”

No one should be too surprised with this sonic turn of events in Stevens’ discography.  Enjoy Your Rabbit was basically composed out of electronic loops.  Later, when The BQE was released, songs like “Movement IV: Traffic Shock” combined heavy orchestration with dizzying electronic swirls of bleeps, drum kits and keys.  Stevens’ contribution to the Dark Was the Night compilation featured a hip-hop beat.

And so, even after Stevens’ extensively covered crisis with music in general, we have The Age Of Adz.  Even though the album is not about a state or an expressway, it’s still definitely tells a story and is about a place. It’s about Sufjan’s state of mind, the place where many people go to after a crisis or heartbreak.  Or maybe it’s about outer space.

Either way, after opening with the soft piano and guitar driven “Futile Devices,” all hell breaks loose when the next track hits you.  “Too Much Love” is now called “Too Much.”  And it’s still a “Fuck yeah!” moment.

As the album continues to unfold, there are also some “What the fuck?” moments.  The title track starts with what sounds like a countdown to the musical bomb that drops on the listener’s ears as the orchestra winds up and an apocalyptic choir chants in the background.  A pulsating bassline drives the song “Get Real Get Right,” while flutes swell and ripple around the speakers in the schizophrenic first half.  And then there’s the 25 minute “Impossible Soul.”

However, those longing for the softer, banjo picking side of Stevens that think they need to look elsewhere for those pulling your heartstring moments need not be alarmed.  The last three minutes of “Age Of Adz” is perhaps some of the most moving music I have heard, the electronic craziness that opens the song dropping away in a dramatic moment, the once apocalyptic choir now sounding like a chorus of Stevens’ guardian angels as the final moments give way to a single guitar as Stevens laments “I could have loved you, I could have changed you.”

The state of Stevens’ mind, which, after multiple listens, one could conclude is a state of heartbreak and all the emotions that come with, is explored beautifully throughout the rest of the album.  “Now That I’m Older” is dripping in reverb as ethereal voices back Stevens, confessing, “I wasn’t over you.”  In the heartbreaking “All For Myself,” Stevens sounds weary as he tries to convince us that he’s “Improving all the time” over a devastating descending piano line.  You can almost see him in a corner licking his wounds.

All of this comes to a head during “I Want To Be Well,” not only the story unfolding throughout the album, but Stevens’ entire aesthetic, his entire catalogue of music, his indie rockstar status.  Over a drum beat and hand claps that bring to mind Radiohead’s “15 Step,” Stevens takes a deep look inside, looking around at all the other “Ordinary people,” singing “Did I go at it wrong, Did I go intentionally to destroy me?  I’m suffering in noise,” before Stevens is left alone with only a guitar as he sings over and over “I want to be well.”

Back to the 400 Bar, Stevens was telling the crowd that he was “so sick of the banjo,” before playing the then only 10 minute long version of “Impossible Soul.”  You got the feeling that this was a guy who had been pigeonholed to his sound (which he kind of was, up to this point), and he wasn’t going to stand for it anymore.

All of this makes sense now during “I Want To Be Well.”  As the choir chants those words, Stevens is as straight to the point as he’s ever been lyrically, repeating “I’m not fucking around.”  I’m not going to question him on that one.

Yes, there’s lots of Auto-Tune, electronic drumbeats and vocoders.  You could compare moments of the album to Radiohead, Daft Punk, MGMT, Animal Collective, etc.  But this is truly Stevens’ moment. The beats, the dizzying arrangements, every single little electronic bleep and bloop drive this collection of songs deeper into your heart than any of his work before.

It’s not like anything I expected, and yet I couldn’t have wished for anything better from Sufjan Stevens.

And yes, I cried.

Key Tracks:

Age Of Adz

Get Real Get Right

All For Myself

I Want To Be Well

Leave a comment

Filed under Album Review, Music

More Sufjan! Age of Adz Drops October 12

First, he surprised us by releasing the EP detailed in the post below, and now, we get the news that after 5 years of no proper Illinois follow-up, Sufjan Stevens will be releasing The Age of Adz on October 12, just before his stop here in Minneapolis on October 16.

Says his label Asthmatic Kitty –

“For the next three weeks you can preorder the CD and LP  and receive an MP3 download on September 28th, two weeks before the release date.

It’s much too soon to cast descriptive lots, but we can say the new album sounds nothing like the All Delighted EP (although it shares similar themes of love, loss, and the apocalypse). Nor is this new album built around any conceptual underpinning (no odes to states, astrology, or urban expressways).

We can say it shows an extensive use of electronics (banjos and acoustic guitars give way to drum machines and analog synthesizers), and an obsession with cosmic fantasies (space, heaven, aliens, love), to create an explicit pop-song extravaganza, augmented by heavy orchestration, and maybe even a few danceable moments. Enjoy Your Rabbit meets the BQE. But with songs. Verse, chorus, bridge, backbeat. Gated reverb. Space echo. Get your boogey on.

The “Adz” of the title loosely refers to the apocalyptic paintings of outsider artist Royal Robertson (1930-1997), whose work is used for the album cover, interior design, and as general inspiration for the tone of the album.”

Enjoy Your Rabbit meets The BQE?  Yes.  Please.

More info can be found here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Music

New Sufjan Stevens EP: All Delighted People

Featuring eight new songs.

Nuff said.

Grab it for $5 here

Leave a comment

Filed under Music

DM Stith @ The Cedar 6.24.10

It must be hard walking up on stage to perform in front of hundreds of people, yet you really must have some balls to walk up on stage to perform in front of less than 30 people in a space designed to fit over 10 times that amount.

So good for DM Stith, who despite the dismal turnout for his performance, put just as much energy and charisma into his performance as he did when opening for a screening of Sufjan Stevens’ film at The Southern Theater last October.

Even though he didn’t have string quartet Osso backing him up, Stith employed a loop machine to build his own claps, feet tapping, vocals and guitar phrases to build lush compositions of his songs, starting off the set with the ghostly sounding “Morning Glory Cloud” from album Heavy Ghost, the song sounding even more haunting in the nearly empty and dark Cedar Cultural Center.

Stith invited the members of opening band Inlets on stage to perform a handful of songs along with him, including a delicate sounding version of the gorgeous “Thanksgiving Moon” and “Pigs.”

Inlets stayed on the stage while Stith introduced a new song called “River Bodies,” part of a body of work that Stith described as “50’s sounding pop music,” and while different in style from the songs that filled Heavy Ghost, the swaying song still had Stith’s minor chord finger prints all over it.

Towards the end of his set and once again alone on stage, Stith moved to the piano to play “Braid of Voices,” which he described as a response to all the different voices and personalities that are living inside each of our own minds, also referencing his Christian background as an indirect influence on his music.

It also just so happened to be Stith’s birthday, and so, as quietly as he walked on stage, the small yet intent and greatly appreciative audience sang “Happy Birthday” to David as he crept off stage, obviously happy to play his music to any audience, whether it be 30 or 300 people.

Below is video I recorded of Stith performing “Pigs” with Inlets

Below is a live audio recording of the new song “River Bodies”

Finally, check out Inlet’s music video for their single “Bright Orange Air.”  It’s really quite something.

2 Comments

Filed under Concert Review, Music

Clogs featuring Shara Worden and Bryce Dessner @ The Southern Theater 2.20.10

Before heading south for the 2010 SXSW festival, the four musicians that make up Clogs and some special guests had a two-night stay at Minneapolis’ Southern Theater to showcase their breathtaking musical pieces.  Friday evening’s performance featured music from previous Clogs releases and side projects, and while no-doubt amazing, I was lucky enough to attend Saturday evening’s performance, where Clogs showcased their latest album, The Creatures in the Garden of Lady Walton, to be released on March 2.  After entering the always spectacular Southern Theater, I was greeted with a stage filled by a piano, organ, myriad guitars, banjos and ukuleles,  a xylophone, violins, violas, numerous gongs, a steel drum and drum kit, and I’m positive I’m missing some pieces.  It was like an instrumental Where’s Waldo.

After walking on stage, Clogs opened their performance with “Cocodrillo,” featuring vocals from My Brightest Diamond singer Shara Worden.  Also the first track on Lady Walton, “Cocodrillio” consists of looped vocals sung in Italian from Worden and Clogs founding member Padma Newsome, which built upon each other to sound like the calls of various forest animals, beckoning you into Lady Walton’s garden.

The rest of the evening, Clogs skipped around the track list of Lady Walton.  “On the Edge” featured pensive guitar picking and strings from Bryce Dessner of The National fame and founding member Padma Newsome, while Worden’s beautiful vocals soaring while singing about a lover “in a cabin for two at the end of the world,” the beautiful, slightly melancholy melody matching the imagery perfectly.  Before diving into “I Used to Do,” Newsome described the song as detailing what happens when “you have to sleep on the floor instead of in the bed” with your significant other.   “Adages of Cleansing” also featured Worden on vocals.  Admitting that this piece had a darker tone, Newsome explained that the song takes place at the end times, the subject preparing themselves for “the next stage” in life.  “The Owl of Love” was punctuated by bittersweet strings and elegant guitar work from Newsome and Dessner, Worden singing about the bird in the forest seeking out affection.

Clogs also dipped into a few pieces from their critically acclaimed 2006 release, Lanterns.  “Voisins” featured a frantic bassoon from member Rachael Elliott and spot-on percussion work from Thomas Kozumplik.  After an hour of almost overwhelming musical genius, Newsome announced they were going to close the concert the same way they opened it, but this time with audience participation.  A musical instructor at heart, Newsome taught the audience the chorus and did a few rounds of practice with us before again diving into Cocodrillo, this rendition exploding with the most hearty audience participation bit I have ever heard.

A mix between classical, indie and just plain opulent and stunning, the music that Clogs has and is creating is not to go unnoticed.  The way each of these musicians and singers handled every single instrument on stage was breathtaking.  Lady Walton will be their first album to lean heavy on vocals, and judging from the preview I had on Saturday, it is sure to end up on many best-of lists in 2010.

Below is a live recording of “Red Seas” from Saturday, featuring Newsome on vocals.

More about Clogs:

Bryce Dessner handled a majority of the strumming throughout the performance.  A commissioned artist at the New York Guitar Festival as well as the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Dessner is best known for his role in The National along with his brother, Aaron Dessner.  On top of being in the top-tier of modern guitarists, Dessner programs the festival lineups for the MusicNow festival in Cincinnati, as well as the Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, Tennessee.  Dessner has collaborated with musicians like Erik Friedlander, Philip Glass, Kronos Quartet and Michael Gordon.  So basically, he’s the shit.

Rachael Elliott, bassoon player, is a founding member of Clogs and chamber musician who is also a member of Tuple, Heliand Trio and the Vermont Contemporary Music Ensemble.  She also produces the biennial Bassoon Project.

Thomas Kozumplik handles percussion for Clogs, and has given concerts and master classes at The University of Connecticut, The University of Carolina-Greensboro, Dayton University, The University of Bowling Green, Mott College and Chicago’s Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art.  Active in many musical groups, Kozumplik has appeared at the Prague Music Festival, Montreux/Detroit Jazz Festival, Notre Dame Jazz Festival, the International Festival of Arts and Ideas and at meetings for the Percussive Arts Society.

Finally there is founding member Padma Newsom, handling strings, guitars and vocals for the group.  A native of Australia, Newsom has earned commissions grants, including an Artists Fellowship from the Connecticut Commission for the Arts, the Australia Council for the Arts, Vermont Arts Council, Fulbright Post-graduate Award, Symphony Australia, Arts SA and the Helpmann Academy.

The Description of The Creatures in the Garden of Lady Walton from Brassland:

“Following Clogs’ critically-acclaimed Lantern (2006), The Creatures in the Garden of Lady Walton is their first album of songs after four primarily instrumental releases. The work was composed by member Padma Newsome during a 2005 residency at Giardini La Mortella sponsored by the Fromm Foundation. The Garden is a rich botanical paradise created by Lady Walton (the widow of the late British composer Sir William Walton) on the island of Ischia in Italy’s Bay of Naples. The album was recorded in stages in Brooklyn and Sydney during 2007-08 with another year and a half for mixing and finishing. It embodies some of the fortunate vagaries of creating music with four people in three cities on two continents, not to mention the cadre of additional musicians who brought their own presence of character to the project. “

The album will contain guest vocals from Shara Worden, Sufjan Stevens and Aaron Dessner.

Leave a comment

Filed under Concert Review, Music