I'm Not There [Soundtrack]

I'm Not There [Soundtrack]

This is one of the last films Heath Ledger was in....he's amazing as is this movie...I recommend the movie, but it's not on DVD yet so here's the soundtrack :) Many people have covered Bob Dylan's songs over the years, but few quite like this. On the double-disc soundtrack that accompanies Todd Haynes' extremely confounding biopic of the already plenty confounding folk icon, we get the likes of Sonic Youth, Cat Power, Yo La Tengo, the Hold Steady, and Antony & The Johnsons doing their best Dylan impressions and often failing gloriously. Former Pavement frontman Stephen Malkmus does a particularly fine job oozing his way through "Ballad of a Thin Man," while Wilco's Jeff Tweedy draws the moody beauty out of "Simple Twist of Fate," and Sufjan Stevens lends his typically baroque touch to "Ring Them Bells." Special credit has to go to the Million Dollar Bashers, the unofficial house band that includes Steve Shelley on drums, John Medeski on piano, and Tom Verlaine on guitar, along with other notable musicians. The generous track list and dynamic set of contributors promises that this album will provide plenty of awe long after the film itself has been forgotten. --Aidin Vaziri

  • After completing the first installment of his planned series of 50 records -- one album dedicated to each state in the U.S. -- indie folk overachiever Sufjan Stevens returns with Seven Swans, a collection of stripped-down, introsp... After completing the first installment of his planned series of 50 records -- one album dedicated to each state in the U.S. -- indie folk overachiever Sufjan Stevens returns with Seven Swans, a collection of stripped-down, introspective musings on life, love, and faith that chart the geographic location of the heart and soul. Many of these themes were dealt with eloquently on Greetings from Michigan: The Great Lakes State, presenting the singer/multi-instrumentalist as a first-rate interpreter of the human condition, as well as a gifted musician. The 12 tracks on Swans yield the same bounty, but with a leaner arsenal, due to Stevens' sparse arrangements and production from Danielson Famile mastermind Daniel Smith. Fellow Famile members Elin, Megan, David, and Andrew -- who also appeared on The Great Lakes State -- lend their vocal and percussion talents to the mix, resulting in a surreal campfire environment that's part confessional and part processional. Beginning with the gorgeously titled "All the Trees in the Field Will Clap Their Hands," Stevens saunters out of the gate with nary an overdub to be heard, letting the banjo lead the parade, slowly picking up piano, percussion, and the angelic voices of Megan and Elin before disappearing over the hilltop. He channels Bert Jansch on the love song "The Dress Looks Nice on You" and Eric Matthews on "To Be Alone With You," striking a winning balance of '60s British folk and indie Americana. Like the Violent Femmes' seminal pseudo-Christian masterpiece, Hallowed Ground, Seven Swans treats religion with simplicity and sincerity, approaching the subject with an almost feverish peacefulness. "Abraham," "We Won't Need Legs to Stand," and "He Woke Me Up Again," with its fiery, overdriven organ, are all effective tomes of the singer's faith, but that faith can be tested. Stevens is quite aware of the dark, and no more so than on the Flannery O'Connor-inspired "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," a first-person murder narrative that reveals a subtle current of menace only hinted at in the earlier portion of the record. Like faith, these songs require patience, as their almost mantra-like arcs take their time to fully form. By the time he reaches the spirited closer, "Transfiguration," an affirming take on the Gospels that reaches an almost Polyphonic Spree crescendo, the listener has no choice but to conform -- if only for the length of the record -- to the writer's unabashed spirituality, and at just under 45 minutes, it's an easy choice to make. ~ James Christopher Monger, All Music Guide « less… more »

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  • Sufjan Stevens's third album is a charming homage to his home state of Michigan. Filled with heartbreak, the album cryptically addresses Stevens' frustration with the notorious job market in the city of Flint in a lovely ballad th... Sufjan Stevens's third album is a charming homage to his home state of Michigan. Filled with heartbreak, the album cryptically addresses Stevens' frustration with the notorious job market in the city of Flint in a lovely ballad that opens the record, and documents the depressing struggle the city of Detroit has fought to once again attain the elegance it had prior to the riots in the late '60s; however, it also touches on a brighter side, as in the cascading "Say Yes! to M!ch!gan!" Its title is a reference to the campaign adopted by the state in the 1980s and serves as the centerpiece as well as Stevens' attachment and amour for the state he is from. Musically, Stevens often plays his Jim O'Rourke and Stereolab cards, riffing along with complex polyphony in building loops and dynamics, but he also frequently imports lightly strummed guitars and stark banjo picking to break up the album and give it a rustic northern folk aesthetic. Stevens comfortably handles nearly every instrument on the album -- an impressive task that includes various keyboards, woodwinds, guitars, and percussions -- but also enlisted the help of Megan, Elin, and Daniel Smith from the Danielson Famile to help out with vocal duties, and the outcome is a haunting and hypnotic studio opus certainly worth getting lost in. ~ Gregory McIntosh, All Music Guide « less… more »

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  • With two states down and only 48 to go, Sufjan Stevens' ambitious musical map of the Unites States of America should be completed -- if he puts out one a year -- sometime around 2053. It's a daunting task (and not an entirely orig... With two states down and only 48 to go, Sufjan Stevens' ambitious musical map of the Unites States of America should be completed -- if he puts out one a year -- sometime around 2053. It's a daunting task (and not an entirely original one at that), but if each subsequent record is as good as Illinois, fans who live long enough to witness the project's completion will no doubt find themselves to be scholars of both state history and its narrator's shape-shifting soul. Stevens' soulful folk epics, as played by his signature mini-orchestra, have changed little since his 2003 foray into Michigan -- a charge that may cause some grumbling among that album's detractors -- but there's a newfound optimism that runs through much of Illinois that echoes the state's "Gateway to the West" pioneering spirit. Glorious road trip-ready cuts like "The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts," "Come On! Feel the Illinoise!," and "Chicago" have an expansiveness that radiates with the ballast of history and the promise of new beginnings. Stevens has done his research, with references to everyone from Abe Lincoln, Frank Lloyd Wright, and the ghost of Carl Sandburg to John Wayne Gacy -- the latter provides one the song cycle's most affecting moments. The lush (yet still distinctly lo-fi) indie pop melodies draw as much from classic rock as they do progressive folk. "Jacksonville," with its four-chord banjo lurch, mines "Old Man"-era Neil Young, disco strings dance around "They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back from the Dead!! Ahhhh!," while the rousing pre-finale "The Tallest Man, the Broadest Shoulders" is pure Peanuts-infused Vince Guaraldi as filtered through the ambiguous kaleidoscope of Danielson Famile spiritualism. There's a distinct community theater vibe to the whole affair that may or may not be the result of numerous photo shoots in which the players are dressed in adult-style Boy Scout uniforms -- it brings to mind the Blaine Players from Christopher Guest's small-town theater parody Waiting for Guffman -- but the majority of Illinois is alarmingly earnest. Stevens may be a snake-oil salesman, but he's got pretty good stuff, and like many of history's most untrustworthy wordsmiths, he somehow manages to switch the opportunist off and turn on the human being each time the listener gets suspicious of his intentions. ~ James Christopher Monger, All Music Guide « less… more »

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  • After successfully navigating his way into the mainstream with 2005's epic Illinoise, ultra-prolific indie pop prince Sufjan Stevens had no intention of laying low. Instead, he released a set of Illinoise outtakes, a five-disc col... After successfully navigating his way into the mainstream with 2005's epic Illinoise, ultra-prolific indie pop prince Sufjan Stevens had no intention of laying low. Instead, he released a set of Illinoise outtakes, a five-disc collection of Christmas songs, and staged a "symphonic and cinematic exploration of New York City's infamous Brooklyn-Queens Expressway" that included a self-made Super 8 mm film, a full orchestra, and a small army of hula hoopers performing live in front of a sold-out Brooklyn Academy of Music. While it could be argued that the ambitious BQE serves as the "New York" chapter in his abandoned 50 states project, it hardly fits in with the other two entries. Many pop musicians have ventured into the classical realm (David Byrne, Paul McCartney, Roger Waters, Elvis Costello, to name a few), but Stevens had already been dabbling in strings, woodwinds, and horns quite admirably since his lo-fi 2000 debut. Closer to the Godfrey Reggio/Philip Glass collaboration Koyaanisqatsi than it is to Byrne's The Forest, fans of the liberal, staccato woodwinds that peppered Illinoise will find much of the BQE familiar. As always, Stevens' melodies are circular, occasionally precious, and often dissonant, but they are presented here with a maturity that will no doubt turn more than a few heads in the classical community, while simultaneously turning some away in the indie pop world. The package itself is truly impressive, boasting a highly stylized Japanese pop art-inspired jacket, a 40-page booklet, a stereoscopic 3D View-Master reel and a DVD of the Super 8 mm film that accompanied the performance. As lyrical a musician as he is, without his commanding use of language (the song cycle is entirely instrumental), the BQE loses some momentum near the end, but by then it's become clear that, as is the case with all of his projects, the term "half-assed" does not apply. ~ James Christopher Monger, All Music Guide « less… more »

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  • Sufjan singing is never a bad thing. Sufjan sing Christmas music... It's sure to be genius.

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  • I know it sounds suspect, but this Presbyterian Pastor and his wife (known as Welcome Wagon) have just put out one of my favorite albums of the year. Of course, it was recorded, produced and arranged by Sufjan Stevens. So, I'm su... I know it sounds suspect, but this Presbyterian Pastor and his wife (known as Welcome Wagon) have just put out one of my favorite albums of the year. Of course, it was recorded, produced and arranged by Sufjan Stevens. So, I'm sure that had something to do with it.

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  • in this album is one of the greatest indie songs ever. as a whole its a wonderfully harmonic album that is great as ambient or to help you chill out in the hot weather.

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  • Elliott Smith's major label debut sees him taking his beautiful acoustic singer-songwriting to a wider audience. If you need mellow sad songs that will break your heart in a soft and gorgeous way, this is the album for you.