Sufjan Stevens’ Carrie & Lowell

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Drag me to hell
In the valley of The Dalles
Like my mother
Give wings to a stone
It’s only the shadow of a cross

Allen (etaeoe), Monday, 23 February 2015 15:40 (five years ago) link

Allen (etaeoe), Monday, 23 February 2015 15:41 (five years ago) link

Lyrics have allusions to Sufjan’s drug problem, <i>The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe</i>, and Valley of the Dolls. I’m super excited for the album.

Allen (etaeoe), Monday, 23 February 2015 15:47 (five years ago) link

yeah i'm ready for this

ciderpress, Monday, 23 February 2015 15:59 (five years ago) link

suf has a drug problem?

tylerw, Monday, 23 February 2015 15:59 (five years ago) link

tyler beat me to the question I was going to ask. I must have missed that story.

ƋППṍӮɨ∏ğڵșěᶉᶇдM℮ (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Monday, 23 February 2015 16:05 (five years ago) link

suf has a drug problem?

Yeah :(

Pitchfork interview has a few details:

Pitchfork: Considering you had a distant relationship, were you at all surprised that her death hit you so hard?

SS: Yeah. In the moment, I was stoic and phlegmatic and practical, but in the months following I was manic and frantic and disparaging and angry. They always talk about the science of bereavement, and how there is a measurable pattern and cycle of grief, but my experience was lacking in any kind of natural trajectory. It felt really sporadic and convoluted. I would have a period of rigorous, emotionless work, and then I would be struck by deep sadness triggered by something really mundane, like a dead pigeon on the subway track. Or my niece would point out polka-dotted tights at the playground, and I would suffer some kind of cosmic anguish in public. It's weird.

I was so emotionally lost and desperate for what I could no longer pursue in regard to my mother, so I was looking for that in other places. At the time, part of me felt that I was possessed by her spirit and that there were certain destructive behaviors that were manifestations of her possession.

Pitchfork: How so?

SS: Oh man, it's so hard to describe what was going on. It's almost like the force, or the matrix, or something: I started to believe that I was genetically, habitually, chemically predisposed to her pattern of destruction. I think a lot of the acting-out was rebellion, or maybe it was a way for me to… ah, this is so fucked up, I should probably go to therapy.

In lieu of her death, I felt a desire to be with her, so I felt like abusing drugs and alcohol and fucking around a lot and becoming reckless and hazardous was my way of being intimate with her. But I quickly learned that you don't have to be incarcerated by suffering, and that, in spite of the dysfunctional nature of your family, you are an individual in full possession of your life. I came to realize that I wasn't possessed by her, or incarcerated by her mental illness. We blame our parents for a lot of shit, for better and for worse, but it's symbiotic. Parenthood is a profound sacrifice.

Moreover, from the single:

I'll drive that stake through the center of my heart
Lonely vampire
Inhaling its fire
I’m chasing the dragon too far

Allen (etaeoe), Monday, 23 February 2015 16:12 (five years ago) link

well i guess that's not too subtle

tylerw, Monday, 23 February 2015 16:23 (five years ago) link

That Pitchfork interview is amazing, got really affected by it

got a long list of ilxors (fgti), Monday, 23 February 2015 17:38 (five years ago) link

I'm disappointed this is not called "Oregon? Here's more again!"

walid foster dulles (man alive), Monday, 23 February 2015 17:43 (five years ago) link

two weeks pass...

This new album is way better than I expected a Sufjan Stevens album in 2015 to be

Tay-Tay Brooklynpants (Murgatroid), Monday, 9 March 2015 22:53 (five years ago) link

It's kind of perfect, plumbs a new depth of sadness, I listened to it a couple times and realized it was ruining my life and had to turn it off. Real end-of-world, end-of-life music. I've never really been a fan of his lyrics until now but this is too good, too fucked up

got a long list of ilxors (fgti), Monday, 9 March 2015 23:16 (five years ago) link

that songs posted here reminds me of Bon Iver and that's not a good sign.


nostormo, Monday, 9 March 2015 23:19 (five years ago) link

Never expected to like a Sufjan album in 2015, also never expected to see people still use "twee" as shorthand for "spare arrangement"

Tay-Tay Brooklynpants (Murgatroid), Monday, 9 March 2015 23:24 (five years ago) link

it's the vocals

nostormo, Monday, 9 March 2015 23:25 (five years ago) link

fgti, in case you want to read along and be utterly destroyed:

Tay-Tay Brooklynpants (Murgatroid), Monday, 9 March 2015 23:41 (five years ago) link

Oversharing perhaps but I did read along and got so depressed by the second listen that I had to take a mental health day :/ I'm not the only one either, I chatted to a couple other people yesterday for whom this record had had the same effect, utterly devastating shit and I hope one day I might be able to listen to it with pleasure

got a long list of ilxors (fgti), Tuesday, 10 March 2015 00:15 (five years ago) link

this album is so sad

Mordy, Tuesday, 10 March 2015 03:13 (five years ago) link

No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross has that hyper-exposed quality like Blue, but it's sadder. Don't know if I can handle an album of this.

five six and (man alive), Tuesday, 10 March 2015 03:18 (five years ago) link

"The Only Thing" is an early highlight.

Tay-Tay Brooklynpants (Murgatroid), Tuesday, 10 March 2015 03:47 (five years ago) link

From my first listen the subject matter + vocal style combo makes me think of a quieter version of Lost in the Trees' A Church That Fits Our Needs, probably the best chamber-folkish album of the last five years

Simon H., Tuesday, 10 March 2015 03:53 (five years ago) link

Man, you all are making me want to hear this ASAP. I haven't yet, but Michigan, Illinois and Seven Swans are all wonderful and I'm a true believer that Sufjan is a genius.

alpine static, Tuesday, 10 March 2015 06:09 (five years ago) link

This is his best album since Seven Swans. It's very bleak but I'm excited to hear him going back to his roots both music-wise and lyrics-wise. A hard pill to swallow but makes me excited about where he goes from here, seems like a do-over album and it feels devastating because he is letting go of everything in here. According to the interviews he had never been this confessional before.

It feels refreshing coming from him, I thought I wouldn't care about him again as I wasn't a big fan of his output post-seven swans (ok Illinoise and Adz had some great songs but they also had some very embarassing moments)

✖✖✖ (Moka), Tuesday, 10 March 2015 08:04 (five years ago) link

What I meant was: I like this album alright but I'm on board with everyone in here, I'm not in such a miserable mood that I'd want it as a companion at this very moment. Makes me interested in his music again and glad to have him back but I'd rather see where he goes from here. Maybe by the time winter comes it will become my favorite album this year who knows.

✖✖✖ (Moka), Tuesday, 10 March 2015 08:08 (five years ago) link

Also I've always loved his 'darker' songs like 'John Wayne Gacy', 'Holland', 'A good man is hard to find'... it's nice to have an album filled with these.

✖✖✖ (Moka), Tuesday, 10 March 2015 08:15 (five years ago) link

Gacy and Holland are two of my very favorites of his.

alpine static, Tuesday, 10 March 2015 08:23 (five years ago) link

"Come on Feel the Illinoise!" the song never gets old, it's like seeing a new color

flappy bird (spazzmatazz), Tuesday, 10 March 2015 18:39 (five years ago) link

yeah I've always loved the more vibrant, Charlie Brown-esque tunes, stuff like "Jacksonville", "Chicago", "The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts", and so on

Abstinence Hawk (frogbs), Tuesday, 10 March 2015 18:53 (five years ago) link

that said Seven Swans is really great!

Abstinence Hawk (frogbs), Tuesday, 10 March 2015 18:53 (five years ago) link

me i was down for his crazy noisy fusion thing

but i also like the idea of a sufjan record that's just a dank pretty acoustic pit

i wish this arrangement was recorded... the pitch-bent whammy power chords that launch into the chorus...... *smooches*

flappy bird (spazzmatazz), Tuesday, 10 March 2015 19:13 (five years ago) link

i love how emo this album is

Mordy, Tuesday, 10 March 2015 19:46 (five years ago) link

me i was down for his crazy noisy fusion thing

― insufficiently familiar with xgau's work to comment intelligently (BradNelson)

The album it relates to the most is Seven Swans (it's an even more stripped down sound than Seven Swans, actually) but it also feels like a direct sequel to Age of Adz. It might be how much his producing skills have improved since the early albums but it has the same sort of lyrical buildup and emotional outbursts that Illinoise and Adz had (Michigan and Seven Swans didn't pull that trick often) only in a different, minimal setting. I can easily imagine him maximizing the sounds of some of these live with a full band.

✖✖✖ (Moka), Tuesday, 10 March 2015 20:51 (five years ago) link

this album is awesome and devastating. it shouldn't, however, be listened to whilst operating heavy machinery.

cajunsunday, Tuesday, 10 March 2015 21:02 (five years ago) link

sweet vocal filters throughout

flappy bird (spazzmatazz), Tuesday, 10 March 2015 21:20 (five years ago) link

"What's the point of singing songs / if they'll never even hear you?"


flappy bird (spazzmatazz), Wednesday, 11 March 2015 06:03 (five years ago) link

Should Have Known Better

Allen (etaeoe), Wednesday, 11 March 2015 17:49 (five years ago) link

It's kind of perfect, plumbs a new depth of sadness, I listened to it a couple times and realized it was ruining my life and had to turn it off. Real end-of-world, end-of-life music. I've never really been a fan of his lyrics until now but this is too good, too fucked up

― got a long list of ilxors (fgti), Monday, March 9, 2015 7:16 PM (1 week ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

otm, it's basically a new Elliott Smith album. someone in one of the ES threads on here said there's "no way out" of his music, i think the same is true of Carrie & Lowell... whether you've lost your parents, or simply waiting... a universal terror. Sufjan is a much more consistent lyricist than Smith though imo, who was brilliant and nuanced ("Pitseleh") just as often as he crossed the line into unformed teenage tantrums (any time he whines "you're such a fucking joke" or "such a fucking pro"). I think we're going to see a lot of artists new and old coming out with records like this in the next couple years, people want sad acoustic guitar music about the end of the world and the inevitable deaths of our loved ones. man. this record is really, really scary too, because it's only a matter of time before everyone has to go through this. earth sucks

flappy bird (spazzmatazz), Tuesday, 17 March 2015 06:01 (five years ago) link


I'm writing from my mom's hospital room. She's dying from stomach cancer. It's awful. Her gargling will haunt me. It's terrible. Just terrible.

I think she would like this album too.

Allen (etaeoe), Tuesday, 17 March 2015 13:46 (five years ago) link

I don't view this album as entirely sad. I think there's an underlying optimism that peaks through.

Allen (etaeoe), Tuesday, 17 March 2015 13:48 (five years ago) link

I'm sorry, Allen.

Team Foxcatcherwatcher (Sufjan Grafton), Tuesday, 17 March 2015 14:28 (five years ago) link

this record is fucking devastating

I've been so taken with it that I've gone back to revisit all his prev records. They are still largely not-for-me but certain tracks I guess I'd missed in the morass, stuff like "Predatory Wasp" I'm like wow how did I miss how good this song was?

got a long list of ilxors (fgti), Monday, 23 March 2015 15:15 (five years ago) link

Predatory Wasp is one of his very best I think, always liked this performance where it builds into a stormy outro even if that's a bit too long

ufo, Monday, 23 March 2015 16:06 (five years ago) link

oh yeah "predatory wasp"! i forgot about that one

could probably not get through all of illinois at this point

i could take or leave illinois but michigan is still one of my fav records

ciderpress, Monday, 23 March 2015 16:36 (five years ago) link

I think this could be his best to be honest...It'll be interesting to see if the public reacts to this in the same way they did to "Illinois"

RobertK15, Wednesday, 25 March 2015 23:58 (five years ago) link

How did the public reacted to Illinois? In Mexico he's very niche so I've no idea, but Illinois was an ambitious pop album, sort of Flaming Lips gone folk. I like this one better but it's hard to see a great deal of people getting excited about this sort of low key album.

✖✖✖ (Moka), Thursday, 26 March 2015 22:53 (five years ago) link

illinois was way celebrated

incredible song, thank you treeship|!

kolakube (Ross), Monday, 25 December 2017 05:33 (two years ago) link

kolakube (Ross), Monday, 25 December 2017 05:45 (two years ago) link

Kid is special

Mule, Monday, 25 December 2017 23:16 (two years ago) link

This song rules

timellison, Monday, 25 December 2017 23:45 (two years ago) link

one year passes...

the two new songs are nice, but this one's especially great. i'd really love a whole album that sounds like this, it's basically exactly where i wanted him to go after the last two albums.

ufo, Wednesday, 29 May 2019 14:36 (one year ago) link

like i'm absolutely here for chill synthpop sufjan with kinda sophisti-vibes and extended guitar solos

ufo, Wednesday, 29 May 2019 14:40 (one year ago) link

one year passes...

I've preordered this so it better not suck

k*r*n koltrane (Simon H.), Tuesday, 30 June 2020 14:08 (two months ago) link

so is this gonna be his Wisconsin album or.....

frogbs, Tuesday, 30 June 2020 14:17 (two months ago) link

btw kinda funny to see this guy have a little resurgence thanks to "The Politician" which uses "Chicago" as its opening theme, I've watched only one episode but you can't pick a more perfect opening song than that. I'm guessing that's not gonna make anyone watch it though

frogbs, Tuesday, 30 June 2020 14:18 (two months ago) link

the first single is "America" so presumably that will cover all remaining states xp

k*r*n koltrane (Simon H.), Tuesday, 30 June 2020 14:18 (two months ago) link

"America" drops July 3... cute!

wet pockets (flamboyant goon tie included), Tuesday, 30 June 2020 14:20 (two months ago) link

I guess nobody was talking about "Aporia" earlier this year but it's really nice

wet pockets (flamboyant goon tie included), Tuesday, 30 June 2020 14:21 (two months ago) link

general vibe i get from the art & tracklist makes me hopeful it's going to be more of an adz-style proggy synth freakout than folk album

interestingly "america" comes with b-side "my rajneesh"

ufo, Wednesday, 1 July 2020 10:20 (two months ago) link

I've preordered this so it better not suck

Not a chance.

Heavy Messages (jed_), Wednesday, 1 July 2020 10:29 (two months ago) link

huh "my rajneesh" is 10 minutes! excited for more sufjan epics

ufo, Wednesday, 1 July 2020 10:52 (two months ago) link

and the a side is 12:30

assert (MatthewK), Wednesday, 1 July 2020 11:03 (two months ago) link

just lookin at the cues here this feels like it's gonna be a follow up to Age of Adz

frogbs, Wednesday, 1 July 2020 14:14 (two months ago) link

Hope so...easily my favourite of his albums.

yugi ex, Wednesday, 1 July 2020 14:48 (two months ago) link

yea I think all his albums are great, but great in the Radiohead sense of the word, where I respect them a lot but don't really want to listen to them often...but if I do reach for one it's usually that one

frogbs, Wednesday, 1 July 2020 15:06 (two months ago) link

i didn't really get age of adz when it came out but it's since become easily my favourite of his. second favourite is carrie & lowell but the live album from that tour is even better. that tour was one of the best shows i've ever seen

ufo, Wednesday, 1 July 2020 22:46 (two months ago) link

I really hope the title is a deliberate reference to Glenn Branca :)

handsome boy modelling software (bernard snowy), Wednesday, 1 July 2020 23:27 (two months ago) link

I kind of assumed as much and it would be amazing if he incorporated some Branca-isms into this one

k*r*n koltrane (Simon H.), Thursday, 2 July 2020 03:02 (two months ago) link

I didn't like The Age of Adz. Carrie and Lowell was ok

his previous albums - Michigan, Seven Swans, Illinois - were his best imo

Dan S, Thursday, 2 July 2020 03:19 (two months ago) link

I didn't like AoA at the time but it's gown on me a lot over time

k*r*n koltrane (Simon H.), Thursday, 2 July 2020 03:22 (two months ago) link

Age of Adz is easily my favorite album of his -- art imitates life after all! Carrie and Lowell comes at a close second

winters (josh), Thursday, 2 July 2020 04:06 (two months ago) link

I agree with Dan except that Carrie and Lowell is a masterpiece. I would like to join the crew who love AoA, I've tried quite a few times indeed, but I will keep at it.

assert (MatthewK), Thursday, 2 July 2020 06:19 (two months ago) link

Apparently the new one is inspired by Ariana Grande, Janet Jackson, “eighties and early nineties jams” and features “Prophet synthesizers and Tempest drum machines,” according to a press release that was put up by mistake (and almost immediately taken down).

ˈʌglɪɪst preɪ, Thursday, 2 July 2020 18:11 (two months ago) link

i mean, you're speaking my language there

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Thursday, 2 July 2020 18:41 (two months ago) link

I feel like "fantastic" or "terrible" are really the two possible outcomes on this one

k*r*n koltrane (Simon H.), Thursday, 2 July 2020 18:51 (two months ago) link

that pretty much confirms it's closer to adz than anything else he's done before and i couldn't be more excited

ufo, Thursday, 2 July 2020 21:43 (two months ago) link

I saw the Adz tour here, and the place was very sold out with people that pretty clearly only knew him from Illinois. I'm not even sure the Adz album had come out yet! Anyway, people were generally patient but I could tell they were not really having it. He did a couple Illinois songs for the encore and they all went nuts, then went home.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 2 July 2020 21:57 (two months ago) link

someone listen to "america" and tell me if it's any good, I have a weird hangup about not wanting to hear closing tracks in advance

k*r*n koltrane (Simon H.), Friday, 3 July 2020 16:32 (two months ago) link

hearing reports that it's great and very adz-y

mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Friday, 3 July 2020 18:13 (two months ago) link

(i have a similar hangup simon but i may check it anyway)

mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Friday, 3 July 2020 18:14 (two months ago) link

it's adz-y but even more so it's a continuation of the synth-y arrangements from the C&L tour (the live version of "all of me wants all of you" etc.) and it's great

the song is only about 7 minutes long, the rest is an ambient outro so don't expect a mini "impossible soul" or anything

ufo, Friday, 3 July 2020 21:19 (two months ago) link

"my rajneesh" has leaked a week early too and it's way adz-ier than "america" and it's even better!

ufo, Friday, 3 July 2020 22:15 (two months ago) link

"my rajneesh" is just immense, would have been one of the best tracks on adz

ufo, Saturday, 4 July 2020 03:13 (two months ago) link

ufo, Friday, 10 July 2020 04:47 (two months ago) link

I love him

winters (josh), Friday, 10 July 2020 04:53 (two months ago) link

okay if that's an outtake then this might be the greatest album ever made

frogbs, Friday, 10 July 2020 14:34 (two months ago) link

Fantastic song

Scampidocio (Le Bateau Ivre), Friday, 10 July 2020 14:36 (two months ago) link

Both these songs are a triumph of production/mixing... somehow Sufjan/his mixing engineer managed to find the sweet spot where super-saturated arrangements become pastel instead of intrusive/annoying. All his finicky tendencies are rendered gorgeous, these are already my favourite songs of his. The build at 7:00 on "My Rajneesh" with the backwards drums, trombone solo, dive-bomb synths, goddammit, the intensely beautiful ending, I am shaken

wet pockets (flamboyant goon tie included), Friday, 10 July 2020 15:12 (two months ago) link

i've played 'rajneesh' four times already this morning, it's quite something.

ACABincalifornia (voodoo chili), Friday, 10 July 2020 16:22 (two months ago) link

Love both tracks but I understand why he left "My Rajneesh" off the new record since it's so Adz-like and heavily based on "Vesuvius".

ˈʌglɪɪst preɪ, Friday, 10 July 2020 21:10 (two months ago) link

i'm guessing it also just didn't fit thematically with whatever he's going for on this album, since it was written during the C&L sessions and fits in with the originally planned Oregon theme for that album.

it's certainly one of the best things he's ever done, probably a top 5 sufjan track for me. it's fascinating how it manages to seamlessly transition from the acoustic first section to the Adz-y synth bombast

ufo, Saturday, 11 July 2020 02:35 (two months ago) link

My Rajneesh is extraordinary

treeship., Saturday, 11 July 2020 03:06 (two months ago) link

it really is. i wish it was 10 minutes longer

frogbs, Saturday, 11 July 2020 04:32 (two months ago) link

I'm more excited about America as an album teaser than I would have been with My Rajneesh. I have no idea what the rest of an album featuring America sounds like.

lukas, Sunday, 12 July 2020 21:02 (two months ago) link

one month passes...

this one's a little more underwhelming, very much what i'd expect from sufjan making a synthpop track but nothing to really elevate it to the standard of his best work

ufo, Friday, 14 August 2020 11:28 (one month ago) link

one month passes...

this one's much better than "video game". the same style just executed far far better (also with a long instrumental intro)

ufo, Wednesday, 16 September 2020 12:49 (six days ago) link

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