Known Johnson

July 7, 2005

Overlooked Alternative: new release for July 5, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 7:52 pm

Notice the use of the singular forms of the words in the title – this is a slim week for releases, both new and reissues, due to the Fourth of July holiday on Monday. And, unfortunately, for those interested in this new release, it might prove very frustrating to track down. Read on . . .

Sufjan Stevens: Illinois – The second installment in Stevens’ planned 50-piece “states” series takes aim at Illinois. As a follow-up to last year’s stunning Seven Swans, it struggles a bit, but is a rewarding and entertaining listen. Stevens’ music is pretty much entirely acoustic (banjos, guitars, piano.) Those who want another Swans, which was such a quiet, darkly beautiful affair, may be slightly disappointed at first. Here he supplements the sound with horns and strings to produce some enjoyably bombastic pieces. Guaranteed, it will wind up on critics’ top-20 lists by the end of the year, and for good reason – it’s a fantastic album. The unfortunate news I have to report is that those of you interested in this album may have a hard time tracking it down. Due to a cover-art dispute with DC Comics, a rendition of whose Superman sweeps through the Chicago skyline, Stevens’ label, Asthmatic Kitty, was forced to request that stores pull stock of this album until the issue could be resolved. However, they were unable to get the big retailers to respond in time and have since allowed the album to be sold again, but not before dozens of copies wound up on Ebay, one of which sold for $61.00 (!) Due to Stevens’ statement that the album would not ship from their warehouse until new artwork had been produced (when the next pressing arrives) in August, collectors everywhere are snatching these up as fast as they can. Smart buyers will check out your favorite online retailers, as some still have stock of the album (I know because I ordered a copy the other day and it is on its way to me right now.) The smartest buyers will, of course, be buying this for the music, but it certainly doesn’t hurt that it’s an instant collectible.

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