Sufjan Stevens unveils new Christmas box set, symbolically choosing materialism over Jesus

Sufjan Stevens unveils new Christmas box set, symbolically choosing materialism over Jesus

Ah, Christmastime. Nothing makes hip, modern, post-religion, avant-rockin’ Logical positivists and the devout, spiritual, indie-folkin’ faithful feel mutually awkward like Jesus Christ The Redeemer’s annual goofy-as-fuck Madison Avenue birthday orgy. And no indie rock musician working today is short-circuiting under the terrible strain of being both of those kinds of people at the same time (and then documenting the smoldering, gooey aftermath on albums) than our man Sufjan. Fortunately for us, though, we get to clap and laugh and boo and cheer from the safety of the sidelines with a cup of rum-spiked hot chocolate while Stevens does enough weirding-out for all of us. And hey, isn’t that what saviors are for, anyway? Pass the Kahlua, hot cousin!

So yeah, just in time for the sadgasm of 2012’s holiday season, here come volumes 6-10 of Stevens’ Songs for Christmas series, entitled Silver and Gold: Songs for Christmas. In accordance with Pitchfork, this new yuletide offering consists of five EPs and will feature guest appearances from The National’s Aaron and Bryce Dessner, Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed “Not Win Butler” Perry, Raymond Raposa of Castanets, and several others. It’ll be available both physically (as a CD box set) and digitally on November 13 via Asthmatic Kitty and will also see release as a vinyl box set “some time later this year or early 2013.” Being that its release approaches an annual stuff-getting holiday, the physical versions of the box will come with all sorts of whacky incentives, such as “stickers, temporary tattoos, a holiday ornament, an ‘apocalyptic’ poster, lyric sheets and chord charts, and music for playing along, ‘hallucinogenic photographs and psychedelic graphic design’ by Sufjan himself, and liner notes.” The vinyl also comes with its own crazy-balls coloring book (a page from which you can check out here) because who hasn’t imagined what Santa Claus looks like with fewer clothes on?

The whole tracklist and whatnot is viewable over on Stevens’ Bandcamp page, and you can also snag the set’s closing track there, “Christmas Unicorn,” for free. You know, it goes down pretty good with all this Kahlua!

• Sufjan Stevens:
• Asthmatic Kitty:

Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett working on an album of jazz duets! Nutty, cuckoo, super jazz duets!

Quick! If there’s two struggling, minor-player celebrities out there who could both use a serious boost to their public profiles and would therefore be savvy to pool their totally like-minded creative visions and unfortunately limited PR resources to the mutual benefit of both of their criminally under-examined careers, who would they be?

Exactly! Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett.

I know, I know; you’ve probably never heard of either of those artists, but trust me when I tell you (based on my research as a music journalist) that these are two hungry crooners that both have something to prove, and this collaborative album thing that FACT reported on earlier is sure to go a long way in busting their audience bases wide open. All they gotta do is think of a genre that everyone likes and takes seriously… hmm… HMM………… Eureka! Fuckin’ JAZZ. Everyone likes that shit. This is gonna go over like gangbusters, I can feel it. What a good use of everyone’s time, talent, energy, focus, and resources! Recently, I met up with one of the struggling singers, Mr. Bennett, outside of his Clarion in Windsor to get some serious HARD FACTS about the situation.

Hey, why don’t you explain the auspicious details of how such a potent stick of creative dynamite was born, Tony Bennett?

“Of all things, she called me from New Zealand and said, ‘I want to do a jazz album with you.’ And I said, ‘You got it!’ So that’s one of the things we’re gonna do.”

Uh. Any- anything else? Like, what’s the instrumentation like?

”[…] a big swing band.”

Oh. Cool. Well, like, I remember that you guys did do that one Rodgers and Heart tune together last year for your Duets II record. Whose standards are you singing this time? Probably some real classics, eh?

I can’t mention the composer because I don’t want anybody to do it before we do it, but there’s a great composer that’s very underrated, very famous, but not as famous as Gershwin or Porter. But he did as many hit songs as anybody, and so we’re gonna do a big swinging album.

Hmm. Well, when is this big swinging album coming out?

Wait, you haven’t started it yet?

Oh. When are you, y’know, gonna do that?

as soon as I can.

• Lady Gaga:
• Tony Bennett:

Archaeologists uncover the “lost” second album from C86 band The Servants

Anglophiles rejpice! The “lost” second album from C86 band The Servants is due for a release later this year. The album, Small Time was shelved way back in 1991 with the dissolution of the David Westlake-led band. The demos that were recorded around that time and will be released as part of a two-disc set. In addition to Small Time, a second disc titled Hey Hey We’re the Manqués, featuring demos, alternate takes, and rehearsal versions of songs from their first album, Disinterest will be included in the package. Think of it as two albums worth of jangley guitars for the price of one!

The Servants (and C86 bands in general) seem to be getting their due recently as Captured Tracks released a retrospective compilation Youth Club Disco last year.

Unfortunately, US fans might have to wait a bit. The Small Time reissue is due out in the UK on Cherry Red Records on October 22 with no US release announced as of press time.

Small Time tracklist

01. Everybody Has a Dream
02. Don’t Leave Town
03. People Going Places
04. Complete Works
05. Daiting Then Waiting
06. Born to Dance
07. Motivation
08. Let’s Live A Little
09. Aim in Life
10. Rejection
11. Fear Eats the Soul
12. The Thrill of it All
13. All Talk
14. Out of Your Life
15. Slow Dancing
16. Born to Dance (Alt Version)
17. The Thrill of it All (Alt Version)
18. All Talk (Alt Version)
19. Out Of Your Life (Alt Version)

Hey Hey We’re The Manqués tracklist:

01. The Word Around Town
02. She Whom Once I Dreamt Of
03. You’d Do Me Good
04. She Grew and She Grew
05. She’s Always Hiding
06. Look Like a Girl
07. Third Wheel
08. Thin-Skinned
09. Hey, Mrs John
10. They Should Make a Statue
11. Move Out
12. Big Future
13. Restless
14. The Power of Woman
15. Hush Now
16. Afterglow
17. Self-Destruction

• The Servants:
• Cherry Red:

RIP: Terence Connor, drummer of Total Slacker

Terence Connor, drummer of Brooklyn band Total Slacker, was killed in an accident yesterday morning. From Total Slacker’s Facebook page:

We’re unbelievably heart broken, our drummer Terence Connor was killed in a hit and run accident while riding his bike early this morning.
Sending all our love to his family and friends.

Watch the video for “Crystal Necklace” here:

• Total Slacker:

Smashing Pumpkins reissue Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness as expansive 5CD deluxe box, because it was far too succinct before

Now that it’s officially October, we’re all allowed (encouraged, even) to consume an endless supply of pumpkin-related material. To help you out with that, here’s some news about your favorite band from 7th grade — The Smashing Pumpkins. In line with the reissues already released over the last two years (Gish, Siamese Dream, and Pisces Iscariot), the band has announced that it will release its double-disc opus Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness in a number of new and remastered formats on December 4. These formats (and their corresponding pumpkin rating) are as follows:

• Deluxe Download – Pumpkin Rating: 2
• Double CD – Pumpkin Rating: 3
• Four-LP Vinyl Box Set – Pumpkin Rating: 6
• Five-CD + DVD Box Set – Pumpkin Rating: 9

On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 is where you gag a little when you taste anything pumpkin flavored, and 10 is where you hibernate for 11 months of the year in anticipation of October. For true Pumpkin fans, the balls out five-disc option is really the only way to go. With a velvet-lined box holding 64 bonus tracks of MC&TIS-era material, a decoupage kit for making MC&TIF-themed artwork, and a DVD of a live show from London’s Brixton Acacdemy in 1996, it’ll transport you back to the mid-90s faster than you can say “hypercolor.”

Go find your Zero shirt, enjoy pumpkin-flavored everything while it lasts, and hunker down until the reissue is available later this year.

Bonus disc tracklists:

Morning Tea (Disc 3):

1. Tonight, Tonight (Strings Alone mix)

02. Methusela (Sadlands demo)

03. X.Y.U. (Take 11)

04. Zero (Synth mix)

05. Feelium (Sadlands demo)

06. Autumn Nocturne (Sadlands demo)

07. Beautiful (Loop version)

08. Ugly (Sadlands demo)

09. Ascending Guitars (Sadlands demo)

10. By Starlight (Flood rough)

11. Medellia Of The Gray Skies (Take 1)

12. Lover (Arrangement 1 demo)

13. Thru The Eyes Of Ruby (Take 7)

14. In The Arms Of Sleep (Early Live demo)

15. Lily (My One And Only) (Sadlands demo)

16. 1979 (Sadlands demo)

17. Glamey Glamey (Sadlands demo)

18. Meladori Magpie

19. Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness (Home Piano version)

20. Galapagos (Instrumental/Sadlands demo)

21. To Forgive (Sadlands demo)

High Tea (Disc 4):

1. Bullet With Butterfly Wings (Sadlands demo)

02. Set The Ray To Jerry (Vocal Rough)

03. Thirty-Three (Sadlands demo)

04. Cupid De Locke (BT 2012 mix)

05. Porcelina Of The Vast Oceans (Live Studio rough)

06. Jellybelly (Instrumental/Pit mix 3)

07. The Aeroplane Flies High (Turns Left, Looks Right)

08. Jupiter’s Lament (Barbershop version)

09. Bagpipes Drone (Sadlands demo)

10. Tonight, Tonight (Band Version Only, No Strings)

11. Knuckles (Studio outtake)

12. Pennies

13. Here Is No Why (Pumpkinland demo)

14. Blast (Fuzz version)

15. Towers Of Rabble (Live)

16. Rotten Apples

17. Fun Time (Sadlands demo)

18. Thru The Eyes Of Ruby (Acoustic version)

19. Chinoise (Sadlands demo)

20. Speed

Special Tea (Disc 5):

1. Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness (Nighttime version 1)

02. Galapagos (Sadlands demo)

03. Cherry (BT 2012 mix)

04. Love (Flood rough)

05. New Waver (Sadlands demo)

06. Fuck You (an ode to no one) (Production Master rough)

07. Isolation (BT 2012 mix)

08. Transformer (Early mix)

09. Dizzle (Sadlands demo)

10. Goodnight (Basic Vocal rough)

11. Eye (Soundworks demo)

12. Blank (Sadlands demo)

13. Beautiful (Instrumental-Middle 8)

14. My Blue Heaven (BT 2012 mix)

15. One And Two

16. Zoom (7 ips)

17. Pastichio Medley (Reversed extras)

18. Marquis In Spades (BT 2012 mix)

19. Tales Of A Scorched Earth (Guitar Overdub mix)

20. Tonite Reprise (Version 1)

21. Wishing You Were Real (Home demo)

22. Thru The Eyes Of Ruby (Pit mix 3)

23. Phang (Sadlands demo)

• Smashing Pumpkins:

Godspeed You! Black Emperor announce first new album in a decade; god bless us, every one

God bless you, Godspeed You! Black Emperor. The calendar turned red this year with a menacing 2012 staring down each month, and though for some musicians it signified a final chance to douse the internet in apocalyptic half-bakes and leftovers, for others it was a multi-trumpeted awakening call and challenge. Scott Walker just rose from a six-year slumber with machetes in hand to address the present moment, and now dark horse unit Godspeed You! Black Emperor have snuck out a timely and SUDDEN follow-up to Yanqui U.X.O. (released via Constellation Records a full 10 years ago, itself two years removed from their defining 2000 double-album Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven).

ALLELUJAH! DON’T BEND! ASCEND! has an official release date of October 19 October 16 (15 in Europe) on Constellation, but apparently the album is already pressed — on 180g vinyl in a tip-on gatefold jacket plus bonus 7-inch plus 12” x 48” pull-out poster! — and being sold on their tour, currently in progress. More details, including a preorder link, are coming very soon. 12 AM EST, to be exact.

In the decade-long wait between Yanqui and ALLELUJAH!, Constellation has been doing a fine job releasing maximal sounds by maximal artists (see: Colin Stetson and Matana Roberts), but it’s still exciting to imagine new material from the dudes behind that chilling opening narration on 1997’s F♯ A♯ ∞ (and everything that came after). GY!BE have been demonstrating their monolithic power on a few brief tours following a 2010 ATP live reformation (most recently announcing a few dates in Australia), but total studio recording snippets have been zerø until now. Oh to be in Boston tonight…

[UPDATE: Constellation is now taking preorders.]



• Godspeed You! Black Emperor:
• Constellation: