April 12, 2015 |
Sufjan Stevens' new album, Carrie & Lowell , is a beautifully intimate, intensely personal collection of songs that explore his grief following the death of his mother in 2012. It strips away all the elements in the Brooklyn-based songwriter's musical arsenal that might be considered excessive. But Stevens is a tinkerer at heart, so the terrific, tour-opening show he played at the Academy of Music on Thursday - with a repeat performance scheduled for Friday night - was by no means the entirely pared-down meditation on faith and loss you might expect.
March 4, 2014 |
Much has changed for Annie Clark, the performer known as St. Vincent, since she played the intimate First Unitarian Church nearly six years ago. In 2008, the singer/guitarist, fresh from stints with the Polyphonic Spree and in Sufjan Stevens' band, was mining a stark, smartly funny yet fragile-sounding solo career in art-pop with a quietly swooping croon and spookily emotive lyrics that made her sound like Kate Bush's daughter. In the years following, St. Vincent recorded Love This Giant with the ex-Talking Head David Byrne while touring its nervously choreographed stage show, and made buggy albums that entered the Top 20 ( Strange Mercy )
February 12, 2014 |
Snow fell Sunday night as about 60 people slid into the pews of the First Unitarian Church side chapel for Julianna Barwick's sold-out concert. Dressed in black dress, black tights, and black boots, the Louisiana-born, Brooklyn-based singer and musician offered an enchanting solo performance. Since her Sanguine EP (2006), Barwick's music has changed very little: she loops fragments of melodies to build angelic songs with swirling harmonies. Sometimes, there's some sparse instrumentation: a couple of piano notes, a delicate synth pulse, accompaniment from a small string section.
April 27, 2013
Denison Witmer In a career of quiet, pretty, introspective releases, Denison Witmer is releasing his quietest, prettiest, and most introspective. He recorded the self-titled album, his ninth, with fellow Philadelphian Devin Greenwood, and they brought in simpatico guests including Sufjan Stevens, Dawn Landes, and Witmer's early mentor Don Peris, of the Innocence Mission. The arrangements use gentle textures - close harmonies from Stevens or Landes, clear and precise acoustic guitars, judiciously layered piano or organ, the occasional electric guitar lead - and the depth enhances the quiet and the beauty.
December 5, 2012 |
NEED A little Christmas, right this very minute? Many's the musician ready to help, with new holiday-themed album releases to take the chill off the coldest wintry night and occasionally remind us what the day's all about. This year's crop of seasonal sets (all available as downloads and most in CD form) started falling out of the skies as early as August from artists major (Rod Stewart, Lady Antebellum) ironically re-paired ("Grease" co-stars John Travolta and Olivia Newton John)
November 27, 2012 |
Sufjan Stevens had a confession to make. "Ten years ago, when I started recording these Christmas EPs, I hated Christmas music," said the 37-year-old singer, whose five-EP, 58-song holiday music box set, Silver & Gold , came out last week. "It was like an exercise in loving your enemy. " The baroque-folk indie-electronic songwriter spoke his mind at Union Transfer on Friday, the opening night of his "Surfjohn Stevens Xmas Sing-A-Long Seasonal Affective Disorder Yuletide Disaster Pageant on Ice" tour.
November 12, 2010 |
A funny thing happened to Sufjan Stevens and his celebrated folk-baroque, American history-obsessed style of songwriting, on the way to the Academy of Music. He got tired of it. Stevens, who put on a fascinating and fabulous two-hour-plus sold-out show Wednesday at the 153-year-old Broad Street opera house, built a sizable following largely on the strength of Illinois , the sparkling 2005 banjo-happy song cycle that was his second album focused entirely on one of the 50 states.
August 29, 2010
Pop All Delighted People EP (Asthmatic Kitty . ) Sufjan Stevens took the Internet by surprise this month when, on the same day, he both announced and put on sale (for $5) this eight-cut, hour-long EP. The multitalented Brooklyn songwriter and conceptualist thereby left no time for his fans to wonder whether this release - which precedes a tour that will bring him to the Kimmel Center's Verizon Hall Nov. 10 - is the full-fledged follow-up to 2005's Illinois , the second chapter in his acclaimed "50 States" series.
January 25, 2010 |
With Vampire Weekend's second album, Contra, topping last week's Billboard chart, it's a happy moment for fans of precious indie pop laced with exotic rhythms. And one of the most worthily hyped of these pop bands, Freelance Whales, sold out the Fishtown area's Kung Fu Necktie on Friday night, with the band Animal/Tropical in tow. Together since '08, Freelance Whales, from Queens, N.Y., became a darling of the blogosphere even before their first album, Weathervanes, is released on CD in March.
September 23, 2009 |
Count yourselves among the fortunate, Philadelphians. Celebrated songwriter Sufjan Stevens is playing only 14 shows on his tour that launched at a sold-out Johnny Brenda's on Monday, and with a repeat performance scheduled last night, two of the indie auteur's dates were set at the cozy Fishtown club. Stevens' 75-minute set with his six-piece band was notable for more than just its intimate setting. (Last time through town, Stevens - who brought the indie-music world to ecstasy with his 2005 folk-baroque album Illinois - sold out the Tower Theater in Upper Darby, roughly 10 times the size of Johnny Brenda's.