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Sufjan Stevens

Seven Swans - 20th Anniversary Edition

    The follow-up to 2003’s ‘Michigan’, Sufjan Stevens’ ‘Seven Swans’ was released originally in 2004. The Guardian dubbed it “a record of remarkable delicacy,” and Billboard called it a “consistently moving, subtly beautiful experience.”

    The folk songs of Sufjan’s ‘Seven Swans’ occupy a singular space in his catalogue. The quiet, psalm-like music arrived less than a year after his 2003 breakthrough album, ‘Michigan’ and his much-publicized announcement to write an album for each of the 50 states. Just as wider audiences were becoming acquainted with the ever-evolving artist—who had, by this point, released a lo-fi folk-pop collage (2000’s ‘A Sun Came’), a Zodiac-inspired electronic suite (2001’s ‘Enjoy Your Rabbit’), and a grand, orchestral epic to kickstart his exploration of the country (‘Michigan’)—he re-introduced himself in hushed tones.

    Despite cultivating a vast influence that spans genres, ‘Seven Swans’ is defined by its sense of intimacy. Think of it as Stevens’ self-penned book of prayer, a talisman that’s never been far from reach. This was a time in his career when his songwriting dealt explicitly with themes of Christianity, and his stark performances helped bring the celestial down to earth. Staples of his songbook like “The Dress Looks Nice on You” and “To Be Alone With You” are disarming in their gentleness, and for every gesture toward a divine presence, Stevens knew how to balance it with a vulnerable expression of humanity, using the language of love songs to outline the shadow of uncertainty in devoting ourselves to something bigger. Listening to ‘Seven Swans’ leaves us with enough hope, mystery, and wisdom to make it feel alive and exalting whenever we return.

    To celebrate the 20th anniversary of this now-beloved piece of Sufjan’s catalogue, AKR is releasing a Dinked Edition exclusive. Pressed on cream-in-black corona vinyl and housed in a matte jacket with embossing and a spot gloss finish, the LP package will include a flexi disc featuring two bonus tracks, “I Went Dancing With My Sister” and “Waste of What Your Kids Won't Have.” The Dinked edition also comes with seven sheets of origami paper, in order to craft seven origami swans.


    Side A
    All The Trees Of The Field Will Clap Their Hands
    The Dress Looks Nice On You
    In The Devil’s Territory
    To Be Alone With You

    Side B
    1. Size Too Small
    2. We Won’t Need Legs To Stand
    3. A Good Man Is Hard To Find
    4. He Woke Me Up Again
    5. Seven Swans
    6. The Transfiguration

    Flexi Disc
    I Went Dancing With My Sister
    Waste Of What Your Kids Won’t Have

    Sufjan Stevens


      Javelin marks Stevens’ first solo album of songs since 2020’s The Ascension, and his first in full singer-songwriter mode since 2015’s Carrie & Lowell, bridging all these approaches like never before. Whether listened to individually or as an album, these 10 songs become something much bigger, the entire experience of Stevens’ 25-year career brought to bear in four-minute bursts of choral, orchestral, and electric wonder.

      Javelin pairs musical sweep with emotional breadth. At times, it has the feel of a big team album production — but it is decidedly not: almost every sound here is the result of Stevens at home, building by himself what sometimes feels like a testament to ‘70s Los Angeles studio opulence. The contributions come from a close circle of friends – adrienne maree brown, Hannah Cohen, Pauline Delassus, Megan Lui and Nedelle Torrisi – who provide harmonies on many songs, and Bryce Dessner, who plays acoustic and electric guitar on “Shit Talk.” Of course, Neil Young wrote the tender and mystic album closer, “There’s A World.”

      Where The Ascension, lauded by The New York Times as “a cry of despair and prayer for redemption,” used ornate but urgent electronics to square up to its moment, Javelin begins like a self-portrait, detailed yet plain. This is Stevens at his most intimate, calling back to Seven Swans or Carrie & Lowell and then calling you close to share in its internal reckoning.

      “So You Are Tired” begins with a gently introduced piano before intricate layers of guitar and percussion build, creating a lush, melancholic atmosphere. “So you are tired of us // So rest your head,” Stevens sings in his signature disarming voice, as if the very scenes of hurt and hope it is about to share have only galvanized it through the decades. 

      Javelin is accompanied by a 48-page book of art and essays all created by Stevens, including a series of meticulous collages, cut-up catalog fantasies, puff-paint word clouds, and iterative color fields. The 10 short essays — alternatively funny, tragic, poignant, obtuse, and specific — offer little glimpses into loves and losses that have shaped him, and, in turn, these songs.


      Andy says: Delicate, fragile yet somehow forthright, this new collection of perfect songs sees Sufjan Stevens return to the summits previously inhabited by 2003’s ‘Michigan’, 2005’s ‘Illinois’ and 2015’s ‘Carrie and Lowell’. Basically, this new record is raw, soul searching, heart yearning, pain, truth, and beauty poured onto tape. There’s also plenty of love around, both personal and universal, so there’s something here for everyone, anyone who has a heart! If you’re familiar with Sufjan’s oeuvre, you’ll know that he’s a pure, total artist who determinedly follows his muse. This often results in unusual, experimental, often heavily electronic records. I think I speak for most people when I say, his melancholy acoustic albums are the ones we love the most. Personal highlights for me are “Will Anyone Ever Love Me?” and “So You Are Tired”. The latter is a breakup song to top all break up songs. It's exquisitely beautiful.


      1. Goodnight Evergreen
      2. A Running Start
      3. Will Anybody Ever Love Me?
      4. Everything That Rises
      5. Genuflecting Ghost
      6. My Red Little Fox
      7. So You Are Tired
      8. Javelin (To Have And To Hold)
      9.Shit Talk
      10. There’s A World

      Angelo De Augustine

      Toil And Trouble

        The fourth solo album from Angelo De Augustine, Toil and Trouble exists according to its own quixotic logic, inhabiting a psychic landscape as sublimely mystifying as a fever dream or fairy tale. In creating such an all-enveloping body of work, the Southern California-based artist spent nearly three years working alone and exploring the vast expanse of his imagination. “This album came from thinking about the madness of the world right now and how overwhelming that can be,” says De Augustine. “I used a sort of counter-world as a guide to try to gain some understanding of what’s actually going on here — I had to take myself out of reality in order to try to understand reality.” At turns bewitching and devastating and ineffably lovely, the result is the most visionary work yet from a singular songwriter, revealing his profound capacity to alchemize pain into extraordinary beauty.


        1 Home Town
        2 The Ballad Of Betty And Barney Hill
        3 Memory Palace
        4 Healing Waters
        5 The Painter
        6 I Don't Want To Live, I Don't Want To Die
        7 Another Universe
        8 Song Of The Siren
        9 Blood Red Thorn
        10 Naked Blade
        11 D.W.O.M.M.
        12 Toil And Trouble

        Sufjan Stevens, Timo Andres, & Conor Hanick


          Composer, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Sufjan Stevens announces the album Reflections, a studio recording of his score for the ballet by choreographer Justin Peck, performed by pianists Timo Andres and Conor Hanick. 

          Reflections was originally commissioned by Houston Ballet to accompany choreography by Peck and premiered March 21, 2019. Written for two pianos and eleven dancers, Reflections marks the sixth collaboration between Stevens and Peck, following Year of the Rabbit (2012); Everywhere We Go (2014); In the Countenance of Kings (2016); The Decalogue (2017); and Principia (2019).

          The studio recording was engineered, mixed and mastered by Ryan Streber at Oktaven Studios. Reflections is characteristic Stevens: dynamic, melodic, memorable, emotionally resonant and playful (one track is titled “And I Shall Come To You Like A Stormtrooper in Drag Serving Imperial Realness”). It is about “energy, light and duality,” Stevens says. “I’m constantly thinking about bodies moving through space when I’m writing for ballet — that is what has informed this music, first and foremost.”

          This is Stevens’ second recorded release of his compositions for piano—following The Decalogue in 2019—and his first written for two pianos. There is a long tradition of composing for duo pianos—from John Adams’ “Hallelujah Junction” to Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major—and Stevens was happy to further explore the form. “Although I've never taken a lesson,” he says, “the piano was my first true love. Having two of them at my disposal was an exciting opportunity and gave me a real catharsis about the expansiveness of the instrument.”

          Self-taught as both a pianist and a composer, Stevens’ first instrument was the oboe, which he started playing in 5th grade. He played in orchestras from high school through college and listened voraciously to recordings of classical music alongside pop radio. But Stevens would often take breaks from the oboe by improvising on the piano, working out music he had heard in passing — pieces by Chopin, Rachmaninov and Bach. “I learned by ear, in a very rudimentary way, inspired by a wide range of music,” he says. “A lot of the work that I compose is anachronistic as it doesn't follow a genealogy of aesthetic. It can be a cornucopia of styles.” That's the case with Reflections, where listeners may detect a hint of Debussy, Stravinsky, Philip Glass and even Bruce Hornsby.


          1. Ekstasis
          2. Revanche
          3. Euphoros
          4. Mnemosyne
          5. Rodinia
          6. Reflexion
          7. And I Shall Come To You Like A Stormtrooper In Drag Serving Imperial Realness

          The Welcome Wagon


            Esther, the latest effort from Brooklyn duo Welcome Wagon is as much about homecoming as it is about making peace with—and a home in—uncertainty. The project had its beginnings in the summer of 2017, when the family took a two-month sabbatical to California. In reflecting upon that time, Pastor Vito Aiuto says “It felt like we had been changed, and so to go home was going to be alright.” Shortly after returning to Brooklyn, he found himself holding his guitar and allowing his fingers to play a few notes that just felt…right. Then the pandemic hit, and Vito’s strumming, lyrics, and thoughts became the soundtrack of the family’s lockdown lives. Though Monique had given up painting a decade prior, she felt an urge to go home as well, to reconnect not just with an artistic identity but with her midwestern family. She began using pieces from a collection of her late grandmother Esther’s treasures to create large-scale collages, beautiful, evocative, and almost haunting in their pastiche of the past.

            Esther was born out of this wellspring of creativity and homecoming, exploring the profound knowing and equally profound mystery in both family and faith. In Esther, the questioning is the destination, and it is one where peace can be found and home—and art—can be made. There’s a salve there. There is music. There are moments of grace, large and small. Welcome.

            TRACK LISTING

            1 Isaiah, California
            2 Bethlehem, A Noble City
            3 Knocking On The Door Of Love
            4 Have Mercy On Us
            5 Consolation Blues
            6 Matthew 7:7
            7 I Know You Know
            8 Noble Tree
            9 Lebanon

            Half-Handed Cloud


              The (seventh) new Half-handed Cloud album, ‘Flutterama’, is a record of 18 jubilant indie-pop songs by John Ringhofer that investigate spiritual incompetence with lively arrangements and radiant melodies that skilfully dissolve into deterioration using herky-jerky tape manipulation, analogue wow-and-flutter, and an animated orchestra of homerecorded sound effects.

              Ringhofer’s work on ‘Flutterama’ was inspired by Frances Mary Hunter Gordon’s adolescent liturgies (recorded at Abbey Road during The Beatles era), turbid sights and sounds in Guy Maddin films, audaciously bold forms in Sister Corita Kent’s devotional printmaking, the exquisite brittleness of Elizabeth Cotten’s voice, Alberto Burri’s stitched wound burlap assemblages, Alvar Aalto church design, Andrea Büttner’s poverty-informed artwork, Lou Barlow/Dinosaur Jr’s lo-fi ‘Poledo’ sound collage (which namechecks Jesus), Julie Canlis book ‘A Theology of the Ordinary’, Wallace Berman’s visual collage, and The Raincoats’ magnificently shaky DIY aesthetic.

              The album’s tape-fiddled tunes - recorded on the very same 16-track recorder last serviced by a sound technician who also worked with The Beach Boys in their home studio - employ surprisingly little synthesizer (“it felt like cheating,” says Ringhofer) - he preferred to craft most of the album’s effects the long way, frequently going behind the back of rock instrumentation by hand-feeding ½” magnetic reel recordings of chord organs, deflating balloons, some guitars, piano (occasionally tracked with a baby on his lap), brass, tablecloth swipes, and a quickly-cranked half-speed music box. He was assisted by long-time Half-handed Cloud contributor Brandon Buckner on drums, and single song backing vocals from Anacortes, WA songsmith John Van Deusen.

              TRACK LISTING

              Bustin' Stronghodes
              Swallowing The Water You Walk On
              Can Shadows Praise You?
              The Netherworld Squints At The Sight Of
              Trick Leash
              Asking For Fish
              I'm The Weakest Link
              Under Your Breath
              Handles 01:52
              What's Illumined Becomes Visible
              Someone You Can Use
              About Face
              Periodically Yours
              We Won't Survive This
              Project Yourself Alive Onto My Corpse
              We Belong To You, But How Now Is Soon?

              Sufjan Stevens & Angelo De Augustine

              A Beginner's Mind

                A Beginner’s Mind began when the two musicians and Asthmatic Kitty labelmates decamped to a friend’s cabin in upstate New York for a monthlong songwriting sabbatical. Watching a movie to unwind after each day’s work, they soon found their songs reflecting the films and began investigating this connection in earnest.

                The resulting album is 14 songs (loosely) based on (mostly) popular films—highbrow, lowbrow and everything in between. They wrote in tandem—one person writing a verse, the other a chorus, churning out chord progressions and lyrics willy-nilly, often finishing each other’s sentences in the process. Rigorous editing and rewriting ensued. The results are less a “cinematic exegesis” and more a “rambling philosophical inquiry” that allows the songs to free-associate at will. Plot-points, scene summaries, and leading characters are often displaced by esoteric interpolations that ask the bigger question: what does it mean to be human in a broken world?

                Stevens and De Augustine wrote everything with a deliberate sense of shoshin—the Zen Buddhist concept for which the record is named and an idea that empowered the pair to look for and write about unlikely inspiration without preconceived notions of what a film had to say (The I-Ching and Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies also served as incentives along the way). The movies became rhetorical prompts, with the songwriters letting their distinct reactions and creative instincts govern their process. The underlying objective was empathy and openness, absent of judgment: to observe with the eyes of a child.

                The album’s artwork comes courtesy of Ghanaian artist Daniel Anum Jasper. In Ghana during the late ’80s, a novel “mobile cinema” culture emerged when enterprising film fans screened Hollywood blockbusters in the backs of pick-up trucks using portable generators. To advertise the movies, artists painted alternate posters inspired only by the scant information they had about each film. Sufjan and Angelo commissioned a pioneer of this form—Jasper—to paint a series of new works for A Beginner’s Mind (including covers for three 7-inch singles). Information about the project was deliberately kept vague so that Mr. Jasper could work without restraint.

                Sufjan Stevens is an artist, songwriter and composer living in New York. He has released nine widely lauded studio albums and a number of collaborations with fellow musicians, choreographers and visual artists from the New York City Ballet and the celebrated director Luca Guadagnino to his stepfather Lowell Brams and noted dancer Jalaiah Harmon.

                Angelo De Augustine is an artist and songwriter living in Thousand Oaks, California—a suburb north of Los Angeles, where he grew up. He has released three albums including his self-released debut, Spirals of Silence (2014), and two for Asthmatic Kitty Records, Swim Inside The Moon (2017) and Tomb (2019).

                STAFF COMMENTS

                Darryl says: Beautifully combining the distinct voices and instrumental styles of both performers into an intoxicating juxtaposition of folk and tenderly plucked indie balladry. It's haunting in parts, and elsewhere wonderfully melodic, a perfect outing for both performers.

                TRACK LISTING

                1. Reach Out 3:43
                2. Lady Macbeth In Chains 3:42
                3. Back To Oz 4:25
                4. The Pillar Of Souls 4:04
                5. You Give Death A Bad Name 5:11
                6. Beginner’s Mind 2:36
                7. Olympus 3:07
                8. Murder And Crime 3:43
                9. (This Is) The Thing 3:13
                10. It’s Your Own Body And Mind 2:27
                11. Lost In The World 3:20
                12. Fictional California 3:03
                13. Cimmerian Shade 5:01
                14. Lacrimae 2:05

                Sufjan Stevens

                The Ascension

                  Sufjan returns with the long awaited follow up to Carrie & Lowell, featuring some of his most confident and varied work to date. We kick things off with the unassuming beginnings of 'Make Me An Offer I Cannot Refuse' before launching into a deeply electronic but airy Thom Yorkey vocal workout. It's this sort of rapid switch and thematic flexibility that both characterises the album and leads to the most surprising and satisfying moments of his career. 

                  'Video Game' sees some haunting organy synth leading into a deeply rythmic and pop-led verse, showcasing Stevens' iconic voice, and dedication to variety in songcraft.  

                  there are some more ambient moments at play, with 'Die Happy' and 'Gilgamesh' trading on the ambient electronic backdrop, but with long tailed reverbs and soaring echoes working their way around the stereo image. 

                  Possibly the most satisfying moments on this collection comes as the flow of the album quietens down into the euphoric redux of the latter third of the album. 'Sugar' could easily have been the background to some of the earlier, skittering electronics of Múm or the Rós, while the title track encompasses everything we love about Stevens, but imbued with a mildly melancholic but wholly relaxed atmospherics. 

                  It's a beautiful LP, and one that only goes to prove how essential Stevens continues to be on our musical landscape. 

                  STAFF COMMENTS

                  Javi says: From the opening choral glitches to the sea of ambience which sees the album out, ‘The Ascension’ is a patchwork of electronic experimentation, distorted lamentations, and intimate confession.

                  Sufjan Stevens has long been a musical chameleon: from the alt-folk expression of ‘Carrie & Lowell’, to the meticulously-researched bombast of ‘Illinois’ and digital catharsis of ‘The Age of Adz’, he’s proven time and time again that whatever the instrumentation or subject matter, he can write rich, personal, spiritual songs like no one else. ‘The Ascension’ draws on all these and more, to create an album as fragile as it is grand, as despairing as it is defiant, and as inspired (if not more so) than anything he’s done before.

                  ‘The Ascension’ is a predominantly electronic affair: huge, distorted drums pulse throughout the album, underscoring hordes of ghostly voices and shifting synths. Celestial car alarm effects argue with auto-tuned vocal cries, while album highlight “Landslide” sees Sufjan bow to a guitar solo, of all things, teetering in-between The Durutti Column’s understated beauty and wild math-rock frenzy. Lyrically, Sufjan seems desperate for a response, making demands and pleading with us, the listener, to soothe his anxieties. Faith and certainty are out; desire and anxiety are in. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the penultimate and titular track, which sees Sufjan explore those thoughts he “couldn’t quite confess” to gut-wrenching effect.

                  Like Dante’s Inferno reimagined as a tour of purgatory, ‘The Ascension’ is a deeply conflicted, gloriously lost, and tentatively comforting album. It’s Sufjan’s finest hour (and twenty minutes) yet.

                  TRACK LISTING

                  1. Make Me An Offer I Cannot Refuse (5:19)
                  2. Run Away With Me (4:07)
                  3. Video Game (4:16)
                  4. Lamentations (3:42)
                  5. Tell Me You Love Me (4:22)
                  6. Die Happy (5:47)
                  7. Ativan (6:32)
                  8. Ursa Major (3:43)
                  9. Landslide (5:04)
                  10. Gilgamesh (3:50)
                  11. Death Star (4:04)
                  12. Goodbye To All That (3:48)
                  13. Sugar (7:37)
                  14. The Ascension (5:56)
                  15. America (12:30)

                  Sufjan Stevens & Lowell Brams


                    Aporia is a New Age album from Sufjan Stevens and his step-father and record label co-owner, Lowell Brams. In the spirit of the New Age composers who sanded off the edges of their synths’ sawtooth waves, Aporia approximates a rich soundtrack from an imagined sci-fi epic brimming with moody, hooky, gauzy synthesizer soundscapes. The album may suggest the progeny of a John Carpenter, Wendy Carlos, and Mike Oldfield marriage, but it stands apart from these touchstones and generates a meditative universe all its own. This is no mere curio in the Sufjan Stevens catalog - but a fully realized collaborative musical piece.

                    TRACK LISTING

                    ` SIDE A

                    1.Ousia 2:33
                    2.What It Takes 3:23
                    3.Disinheritance 1:13
                    4.Agathon 3:02
                    5.Determined Outcome 2:12
                    6.Misology 1:49
                    7.Afterworld Alliance 2:47
                    8.Palinodes 0:32
                    9.Backhanded Cloud 1:26
                    10.Glorious You 1:49

                    SIDE B

                    11.For Raymond Scott 0:34
                    12.Matronymic 0:57
                    13.The Red Desert 2:54
                    14.Conciliation 1:20
                    15.Ataraxia 1:12
                    16.The Unlimited 2:14
                    17.The Runaround 3:35
                    18.Climb That Mountain 3:00
                    19.Captain Praxis 2:13
                    20.Eudaimonia 2:19
                    21.The Lydian Ring 1:02

                    Sufjan Stevens & Timo Andres

                    The Decalogue

                      Oscar- and Grammy-nominated composer, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Sufjan Stevens releases his acclaimed score for Justin Peck’s ballet The Decalogue via his own label, AKR. Performed by the pianist Timo Andres, the recording is the first time the score, premiered during the New York City Ballet’s 2017 season, is available to the public. 

                      The Decalogue is the third collaboration between NYCB Resident Choreographer Peck and Stevens, following 2012’s Year of the Rabbit and 2014’s Everywhere We Go. The piece was widely praised upon its premiere; The New York Times lauded the “beauty and charm” of Peck’s choreography as well as Stevens’ “romantically modernist études.”

                      Brooklyn-based composer-pianist Timo Andres is a Nonesuch Records artist, who has written major works for the Boston Symphony, Carnegie Hall, the Barbican, the Takács Quartet, the Concertgebouw, and elsewhere. He performs regularly with Gabriel Kahane, and has frequently appeared with Philip Glass, Becca Stevens, Nadia Sirota, the Kronos Quartet, John Adams, Ted Hearne, and others. As a pianist, Timo has performed at Lincoln Center, for the New York Philharmonic, the LA Phil, at Wigmore Hall, for San Francisco Performances, and at (le) Poisson Rouge. Upcoming highlights include a curated program for the Cincinnati Symphony (featuring Dance Heginbotham and a performance of Andres’s cello concerto, Upstate Obscura), and a solo piano recital for Carnegie Hall. Previous work with Sufjan Stevens includes the orchestration of “Principia” for Justin Peck and the New York City Ballet.

                      A singer-songwriter currently living in New York, Sufjan Stevens’ preoccupation with epic concepts has motivated two state records (Michigan and Illinois), a collection of sacred and biblical songs (Seven Swans), an electronic album for the animals of the Chinese zodiac (Enjoy Your Rabbit), an expansive EP in homage to the Apocalypse (All Delighted People), a full length partly inspired by the outsider artist Royal Robertson (The Age of Adz) and two Christmas box sets (Songs for Christmas, vol. 1-5 and Silver & Gold, vol. 6-10). BAM has commissioned two works from Stevens, a programmatic tone poem for the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (The BQE) and an instrumental accompaniment to slow-motion rodeo footage (Round-Up). Stevens’ Planetarium, a collaborative album with Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner and James McAlister imbued with themes of the cosmos, was released in 2017 to widespread critical praise.

                      2015’s highly acclaimed Carrie & Lowell explored his relationship with his mother in the wake of her death; a companion collection of outtakes, remixes and demos, The Greatest Gift Mixtape, was released in 2017. The songs “Love Yourself” and “With My Whole Heart” were released in 2018 in celebration of Pride Month, with a portion of the proceeds benefitting the Ali Forney Center in Harlem, NY and the Ruth Ellis Center in Detroit, MI. Stevens also contributed three much-lauded songs to Luca Guadagnino’s critically acclaimed film Call Me By Your Name, including the Oscar-nominated “Mystery of Love.”

                      TRACK LISTING


                      Angelo De Augustine


                        A quiet heartache threads through Tomb. It’s a universal feeling, the kind that piles up over the years and yearns for resolution. The 12 songs came together quickly, out of necessity following his first true heartbreak around Christmas 2017 -- and while Tomb was born from this breakup, the album expanded to explore years of loss and disappointment. Throughout, De Augustine sings of his first love (“Tomb”), attempts to reconcile possible past mistakes (“You Needed Love, I Needed You”), and reckoning with how personal and familial history impacts present and future relationships (“Kaitlin,” “Bird Has Flown”). Like the best albums about heartbreak, Tomb transforms pain into beauty. “This album is at its core a prayer for hope and clarity, and a prayer for love,” he says.

                        Ultimately Tomb reflects a beginning for De Augustine -- both emotionally and in his career. It’s a motion towards positivity, addressing lost love, the worthwhile cost of honesty, and the ramifications of regret. In the end, Tomb isn’t about burying or hiding something away, it’s about opening the seal and letting something new emerge. The album’s title reveals these sentiments: “Throughout our lives we bury many dead things in our hearts and minds,” he says. “There they go to rest and hopefully are reborn as something beautiful for the world to behold.”

                        TRACK LISTING

                        1. Tomb
                        2. All To The Wind
                        3. You Needed Love I Needed You
                        4. I Could Be Wrong
                        5. Tide
                        6. Kaitlin
                        7. Time
                        8. Somewhere Far Away From Home
                        9. Wanderer
                        10. A Good Man’s Light
                        11. Bird Has Flown
                        12. All Your Life

                        Sufjan Stevens

                        Songs For Christmas

                          As some of you may or may not know, for the past few years, as a holiday tradition, Sufjan has embarked on an extraordinary experiment to record an annual Christmas EP. It started in 2001, the year of Epiphanies, and continued onward (skipping only 2004), culminating into an odd and idiosyncratic catalog of music that has only existed in the Asthmatic Kitty archives (and on a number of file sharing sites). The recording process took place every December, for one week, usually at home, provoking collaborations with friends, roommates, and musical peers. Armed with a Reader's Digest Christmas Songbook (and a mug of hot cider) Sufjan & friends concocted a musical fruit cake year after year, implementing every musical instrument they could find lying around the house: banjo, oboe, Casiotone, wood flute, a buzzy guitar, hand claps, sleigh bells, Hammond organ, and some tree tinsel. Did we mention sleigh bells? It doesn't take much to capture that Creepy Christmas Feeling, does it? Recorded, mixed and mastered at home, the EPs themselves were often assembled in the kitchen, stapled together, and sent out with stickers and stamps to loved ones across the globe, year after year. Recording traditional favourites alongside unique originals, Sufjan has, over the course of five years, constructed an odd, impressive, and compelling collection of Christmas hits (and some misses) that will either warm your heart or make you throw up eggnog all over the bath mat (depending on your constitution). Asthmatic Kitty now releases ALL of the material (newly mixed and mastered) in one generous box set.

                          TRACK LISTING

                          Silent Night
                          O Come, O Come Emmanuel
                          We’re Goin’ To The Country
                          Lo, How A Rose E’er Blooming
                          It’s Christmas! Let’s Be Glad!
                          Holy, Holy, Holy
                          Amazing Grace
                          Angels We Have Heard
                          Put The Lights On The Tree
                          Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing
                          I Saw Three Ships
                          Only At Christmas Time
                          Once In Royal David’s City
                          Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!
                          What Child Is This Anyway?
                          Bring A Torch, Jeanette, Isabella
                          O Come, O Come Emmanuel
                          Come On! Let’s Boogey To The Elf Dance!
                          We Three Kings
                          O Holy Night
                          That Was The Worst Christmas Ever!
                          Ding! Dong!
                          All The King’s Horns
                          The Friendly Beasts
                          The Little Drummer Boy
                          Away In A Manger
                          Hey Guys! It’s Christmas Time!
                          The First Noel
                          Did I Make You Cry On Christmas Day? (Well, You Deserved It!)
                          The Incarnation
                          Joy To The World
                          Once In Royal David’s City
                          Get Behind Me, Santa!
                          Jingle Bells
                          Christmas In July
                          Lo! How A Rose E’er Blooming
                          Jupiter Winter
                          Sister Winter
                          O Come O Come Emmanuel
                          Star Of Wonder
                          Holy, Holy, Holy
                          The Winter Solstice

                          Carrie & Lowell, the new album from Sufjan Stevens, is released on Stevens’ own Asthmatic Kitty Records. 

                          The album - named for Stevens’ mother and stepfather - is a return to Stevens’ folk roots. Thematically the 11 songs address life and death, love and loss, and the artist’s struggle to make sense of the beauty and ugliness of love.

                          Carrie & Lowell was recorded by Stevens alongside Casey Foubert, Laura Veirs, Nedelle Torrisi, Sean Carey, Ben Lester and Thomas Bartlett and mixed by Stevens, Bartlett and Pat Dillet.

                          TRACK LISTING

                          1. Death With Dignity
                          2. Should Have Known Better
                          3. All Of Me Wants All Of You
                          4. Drawn To The Blood
                          5. Eugene
                          6. Fourth Of July
                          7. The Only Thing
                          8. Carrie & Lowell
                          9. John My Beloved
                          10. No Shade In The Shadow Of The Cross
                          11. Blue Bucket Of Gold

                          My Brightest Diamond

                          This Is My Hand

                            ‘This Is My Hand’ is a bold chapter in the unfurling My Brightest Diamond story. The album’s exploration of music and its rhythmic urgency escort Shara Worden’s chamber music aesthetic out of the chamber and back into the dance hall and rock bar.

                            Produced by Shara and Zac Rae, ‘This Is My Hand’ is the moment where the music achieves the brilliance of her huge ambition.

                            Sounding not quite like anything else but hugely accessible, ‘This Is My Hand’ will be the moment that My Brightest Diamond sparkles worldwide.

                            The wind blows hard. We need songs for shelter and Raymond Raposa can build a shelter from almost anything: the sun-bleached bones of a drum track and a couple of spare organ chords; a carpet of creeping synth arpeggios, a scaffolding of multi-tracked harmonies, a few scraps of alto sax to prop up the whole structure. ‘Decimation Blues’, Raymond Raposa’s sixth release as Castanets, marks a decade of scavenger architecture.

                            ‘Decimation Blues’ sees Raposa stepping out in front of the hermetic persona he’s crafted over ten years. There have always been shards of pop songs glinting in the dark corners of Castanets records. Here we get whole gleaming edifices.

                            ‘Decimation Blues’ is the music of a man who’s learned to live and build among the wreckage - twelve seemingly offhand, secretly meticulous tracks that we can hunker down in. “Still always good to be alone in someone else’s home,” Raposa sings. Come in out of the rain, put your shoes by the fire. The walls might shake and the wind might howl but you’ll be safe here a while.

                            TRACK LISTING

                            It’s Good To Touch You In The Sunlight
                            Be My Eyes
                            Thunder Bay
                            Out For The West
                            To Look Over The
                            Blackbird Tune
                            Pour It Tall And Pour It True
                            There Is A Place Up The Road There
                            My Girl Comes To The City
                            Tell Them Memphis
                            Somewhere In The Blue

                            Sufjan Stevens

                            Enjoy Your Rabbit

                              Sufjan Stevens departs from the singer-songwriter persona of "A Sun Came", "Michigan", and "Seven Swans", with fourteen instrumental compositions based on the animals of the Chinese zodiac. Combining his widely acclaimed gift for melody with electronic sounds, "Enjoy Your Rabbit", deftly demonstrates Sufjan's versatility with an unusually playful and engagingly human electronic experience.

                              TRACK LISTING

                              Year Of The Asthmatic Cat
                              Year Of The Monkey
                              Year Of The Rat
                              Year Of The Ox
                              Year Of The Boar
                              Year Of The Tiger
                              Year Of The Snake
                              Year Of The Sheep
                              Year Of The Rooster
                              Year Of The Dragon
                              Enjoy Your Rabbit
                              Year Of The Dog
                              Year Of The Horse
                              Year Of Our Lord

                              Linda Perhacs

                              The Soul Of All Natural Things

                                This is one of the most incredible comebacks in the history of modern music - incredible because it is now 44 years since Linda Perhacs released her at the time overlooked but now seminal ‘Parallelograms’ album.

                                Who’d have thought that this many years later she would return at all, let alone with one of the most beautiful albums you will hear in 2014? Recorded in California with two local musicians and songwriters, and featuring collaborations with Julia Holter and Ramona Gonzales (Nite Jewel), this record is destined to become one of the most loved records of the year.

                                ‘Psychic Temple II’ is a labour of love envisioned by Chris Schlarb to bring his most far-ranging inspirations to life - as he puts it, “a dream ensemble that could never actually exist”.

                                The ensemble’s sophomore release was painstakingly constructed over more than a year with the cooperation of some of the most progressive musical minds from a staggering variety of genres.

                                ‘Psychic Temple II’ reaches beyond the long-form experiments of its predecessor for a more tightly focused yet conceptually unrestrained approach.

                                Schlarb also includes three cover songs by composers who share his boundary-demolishing mindset: Joe Jackson’s ‘Steppin’ Out’, Frank Zappa’s ‘Sofa No. 2’ and Brian Wilson’s ‘Til I Die’, a gorgeous, lesser-known Beach Boys song that features vocals by Sufjan Stevens, Ray Raposa (Castanets) and Nedelle Torrisi.

                                TRACK LISTING

                                Seventh House
                                The Starry King Hears Laughter
                                Solo In Place
                                Bird In The Garden
                                Til I Die
                                She Is The Golden World
                                Steppin’ Out
                                All I Want Is Time
                                Sofa No. 2
                                NO TSURAI
                                Hyacinth Thrash Quarter

                                Lily & Madeleine

                                The Weight Of The Globe

                                  One of the most astonishing debut releases of 2013, ‘The Weight Of The Globe’ is as sincere as it is precociously sophisticated.

                                  At just 18 and 16 years old respectively, Lily and Madeleine have crafted 5 beautiful, true Americana songs that will find fans of Laurel Canyon-esque songwriting and the melodicism of First Aid Kit in thrall.

                                  The arrangements are less timeless, with lyrics that cut into the sweetness to reach the core of lives in transition. The band express this with uncommon acuteness: Madeleine’s voice may be lovely and soft, but possesses a worldliness and focus one would expect of an older woman; paradoxically her younger sister’s voice is clearer and worldlier still.

                                  Helado Negro

                                  Invisible Life

                                  Press play on ‘Invisible Life’ and you lose your season. Roberto Lange - Helado Negro - is talking to you in Spanish. He’s talking to you, perhaps with more volume, in the language he’s been teaching us all over the past three years through the lessons of the seductive full length ‘Canta Lechuza’, the sub-narrative exploration EP ‘Island Universe Story One’, and the all-in collaboration, ‘OMBRE’, with Juliana Barwick.

                                  Jon Philpot, The Bear In Heaven frontman, is one of a few key contributions on the album, including more old friends like Eduardo Alonso (Feathers) and Matt Crum (Lange’s longtime bandmate in ROM), as well as kindred and vast spirit Devendra Banhart. Banhart’s guitar on ‘Arboles’ multiplies the whispered dream of Helado Negro into Technicolor parallel existences.

                                  TRACK LISTING

                                  Llumina Vos
                                  Dance Ghost
                                  U Heard
                                  Catch That Pain

                                  Sufjan Stevens

                                  Silver & Gold

                                    Who can save us from the infidels of Christmas commodity? Look no further, tired shopper, for your hero arrives as the diligent songwriter Sufjan Stevens, army of one, banjo in one hand, drum machine in the other, holed up in his room, surrounded by hymnals, oratorios, music charts, sacred harp books, paperclipped-photo-copied Readers Digest Christmas catalogs, singing his barbaric yawp above the snow-capped rooftops.

                                    This deluxe 5CD boxset includes 5 CD EPs (‘Gloria’, ‘I Am Santa’s Helper’, ‘Christmas Infinity Voyage’, ‘Let It Snow’ and ‘Christmas Unicorn’), 2. Christmas stickers, temporary tattoos (non-toxic & safe for children), a paper ornament (self-assembly with directions), an apocalyptic pull-out poster, song lyrics and chord charts, hallucinogenic photographs and psychedelic graphic design (by Sufjan Stevens) and extensive liner notes (essays by Sufjan Stevens and Pastor Vito Aiuto).

                                    The Welcome Wagon

                                    Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices

                                      ‘Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices’, The Welcome Wagon’s second full-length, is an apt sequel to their critically acclaimed 2008 debut, ‘Welcome to The Welcome Wagon’. Here, Vito and Monique simply throw those welcoming arms open wider.

                                      Recorded by Alexander Foote over 5 days at the library of an old rectory in Brooklyn. Those who enjoyed the Welcome Wagon’s debut album will notice their distinct sound again here - loose, jangly, comfortable, a gathering of friends making music together.

                                      At times jaunty and toe-tapping, at others quietly contemplative - an alt-folk gem.

                                      A supercombo team-up between Simon Lord (ex Simian) and Rafter Roberts, the Roberts & Lord duo present their Asthmatic Kitty debut, ‘Eponymous’.

                                      Roberts’ rough and grimy (yet complexly arranged) analog backing tracks paired with Lord's clean, digitally-recorded vocals gives these songs a tricky kind of depth that is immediately engaging. This effortless juxtaposition reigns throughout the album.

                                      Influenced by nonsense verse poets like Ivor Cutler and Edward Lear, Lord gives us a simple, light-hearted return to innocence, the sweaty exuberance of a dance party with all your friends around you.

                                      TRACK LISTING

                                      1. Mosquito
                                      2. Wild Berries
                                      3. Bottom Of The Bottle
                                      4. Windmill
                                      5. Oblique
                                      6. Knots
                                      7. Menuhin
                                      8. Purple Doves
                                      9. We Rise, We Fall
                                      10. Interior Demon
                                      11. Spem
                                      12. The Same Love

                                      Helado Negro is Roberto Carlos Lange, sometime collaborator of Scott Herren in Savath & Savalas and occasional conspirator with Jaytram of Yeasayer.

                                      Whilst his last full length, ‘Awe Owe’, was a Funkadelican mega-opus, this is a more personal beast, a solo affair built lovingly from live instruments, percussion, and field recordings, all processed through electronics, computers, and synthesizers. It is an album with very defined songs, its song-structure has been laboured over; choruses count bigtime, confident breakdowns and digi-pop bridges are all part and parcel of the greater good.

                                      His voice recalls ‘China Girl’-era David Bowie; a relaxed and tropical Peter Gabriel (or even Peter Murphy).

                                      TRACK LISTING

                                      1. Globitos
                                      2. Regresa
                                      3. 2º Dia
                                      4. Lechuguilla
                                      5. Cenar En La Manana
                                      6. El Oeste
                                      7. Obra Uno
                                      8. Oreja De Arena
                                      9. Con Suerte
                                      10. Calculas
                                      11. Alcanzar

                                      Continuing Asthmatic Kitty's penchant for an extremely diverse roster - rather than follow down the more, shall we say, abstract or experimental paths that some other recent artists have, Stephens delivers a true song-writers record. This is a lazy afternoon of a release, with beautiful vocals and melodies delivered over calm and tender acoustic, slightly country tinged, slightly jazzy backdrops. Its appeal is broad and its influences are myriad.

                                      Fol Chen

                                      Part 1: John Shade Your Fortune's Made

                                      Fol Chen sound like Prince with Amon Duul II and a children's religious revival, not to mention Hot Chip, Pink Floyd, Gwen Stefani, Pere Ubu, Danielson Famile, Scritti Politti, Boards of Canada, The Blow and Pulp. Fol Chen features Samuel Bing, guitarist for The Liars, and appearances from Karin Tatoyan, Rafter, members of Castanets and Liars. Two of their songs have been featured in the major motion picture 'Noah's Arc: Jumping the Broom'. Fol Chen will also soon be heard via their remixes of High Places, Frightened Rabbit and No Kids. Cryptic and Joyful and Asking you to Dance.

                                      Various Artists

                                      Achoo! An Asthmatic Kitty Sampler Volume 2

                                        Asthmatic Kitty Records presents "Achoo!" their second sampler of music released on the label – 27 tracks for the price of a CD single! Featuring songs from every artist on the label and spanning the entire breadth of the catalogue, this gives a concise and exciting introduction to one of the most interesting independent labels in operation today.

                                        Green Water - The Curtains
                                        Henney Buggy Band - Sufjan Stevens
                                        High Life - Shapes And Sizes
                                        Adventurers - Rafter
                                        Eyes Peeled - Half-Handed Cloud
                                        We Were Sparkling - My Brightest Diamond
                                        Sold To The Nice Rich Man - Welcome Wagon
                                        So Gentle Your Arms - Shannon Stephens
                                        Poison & Snakes - Liz Janes
                                        Strong Animal - Castanets
                                        Twilight And Ghost Stories (excerpt) - Chris Schlarb
                                        Year Of The Boar - Osso
                                        Encouragement - Rafter
                                        Say You Will - Cryptacize
                                        Future Past Perfect - Future Rapper
                                        Sampler Song - Rafter
                                        Sailing The Veil-Boat - Half-Handed Cloud
                                        Climbing Texas - Belltower
                                        Christmas In July - Sufjan Stevens
                                        Dancing With Someone (Privilege Of Everything) - Castanets
                                        A Feast - Royal City
                                        Goldenhead - Shapes And Sizes
                                        Yes/No - Bunky
                                        Quail - Half-Handed Cloud
                                        Careless Love - Liz Janes & Create
                                        Golden Star (Alias Remix) - My Brightest Diamond
                                        As You Do - Castanets


                                        Sex Death Cassette

                                          Inspired by influences as diverse as Guided By Voices, R Stevie Moore, Fela Kuti, Lightning Bolt, Fushitsusha, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, and Cody Chestnutt, "Sex Death Cassette" is an album full of hope, determination and chaos. It'll leave you with sweat dripping down your face onto your swelled lip; fresh, liquid salt, the quintessential flavour of late night post-disco parties and booty slinging good times. After dancing to this album, you're heavy with it, like too much cough syrup on a stomach full of hi-quality sushi. Rafter executes the helter-skelter boogie-down production so gracefully that it is no mystery why those in-the-know recruit him, including the likes of Fiery Furnaces, The Rapture, Arab on Radar, The Album Leaf, Rocket from the Crypt, Danielson, Black Heart Procession, The Peppermints, Hot Snakes, his own band Bunky, and fellow Asthmatic Kitty artists (Castanets, Liz Janes, and Sufjan Stevens).


                                          In The Vines

                                            An album based on a Hindu fable about being trapped in an escapable fate, with death and the limitations of our physical lives closing in from all corners. "In The Vines" was written in the aftermath of a mugging, which was the climax of a year of depression and nomadic, nocturnal dislocation. But "In The Vines" is not all peril and darkness; the songs are sung with such intimacy and earnestness that it sways somewhere between the serpent, elephant, bees and rats, the honey representing a strange sense of hope and delight in the brief moments of beauty that sustain our lives. The record features guest appearances from Sufjan Stevens, Jana Hunter, Viking Moses and many others.

                                            Shapes And Sizes

                                            Split Lips Winning Hips A Shiner

                                              Shapes And Sizes return with their refined brand of experimental pop to create a cohesive, demanding and rewarding listen. Recorded with JC/DC Studios (Destroyer, New Pornographers) and mixed with Asthmatic Kitty's own Rafter Roberts (Fiery Furnaces, The Rapture) to forge a pristine decomposition. Don't turn it down – the overdrive provides the framework for equally aggressive lyrics that combine sensuality, violence and social critique. For fans of Fiery Furnaces, Deerhoof and Animal Collective.

                                              Sufjan Stevens

                                              The Avalanche

                                                Sufjan's last album, "Illinois" was originally conceived as a double album, culminating in a musical collage of nearly 50 songs. But as the project began to develop into an unwieldy epic, common sense weighed in – as did the opinions of others – and the project was cut in half. But as 2005 came to a close, Sufjan returned to the old, forsaken songs on his 8-track like a grandfather remembering his youth. Sufjan gleaned 21 useable tracks from the abandoned material, including three alternate versions of "Chicago". Some songs were in finished form, others were merely outlines, gesture drawings, or musical scribbles mumbled on a hand-held tape recorder. Most of the material required substantial editing, new arrangements or vocals. Much of the work was done at the end of 2005 or in January the following year. Sufjan invited many of the original Illinoisemakers to fill in the edges: drums, trumpet, a choir of singers. The centrepiece, of course, was the title track – "The Avalanche" – a song intended for the leading role on the "Illinois" album but eventually cut and placed as a bonus track on the vinyl release.

                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                The Avalanche
                                                Super Computer
                                                Chicago Acoustic
                                                Henney Buggy
                                                Saul Bellow
                                                Kaskaskia River
                                                Chicago AC
                                                Inaugural Music
                                                Your Land
                                                Pick Up
                                                Perpetual Self
                                                Chicago OCD
                                                Undivided Self

                                                Sufjan Stevens


                                                  Sufjan Stevens scales dusty prairies, steel factories, and two hundred years of history to produce his newest album "Illinois" on Rough Trade. Invoking the muse of poet Carl Sandburg (and the musical flourishes of Rodgers and Hammerstein), "Illinois" ushers in trumpets on parade, string quartets, female choruses and ambient piano scales arranged around Stevens' emerging falsetto. Whereas 2003s "Michigan" (the inaugural album of 'The 50 States' project) was rooted in memory, and 2004s "Seven Swans" was rooted in the spirit, "Illinois" is rooted in 'the world, in society, invention, civilisation, in disease, in death, in education, in business', says Stevens. And unlike "Seven Swans", Stevens surmounted the heights of "Illinois" solo, employing guest musicians but recording, engineering, and producing the album entirely on his own.

                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                  Concerning The UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois
                                                  The Black Hawk War, Or, How To Demolish An Entire Civilization And Still Feel Good About Yourself In The Morning, Or, We Apologize For The Inconvenience But You’re Going To Have To Leave Now, Or, “I Have Fought The Big Knives And Will Continue To Fight Them Till They Are Off Our Lands!”
                                                  Come On! Feel The Illinoise! / Part I: The World’s Columbian Exposition / Part II: Carl Sandburg Visits Me In A Dream
                                                  John Wayne Gacy, Jr
                                                  A Short Reprise For Mary Todd, Who Went Insane, But For Very Good  Reasons
                                                  Decatur, Or, Round Of Applause For Your Step-Mother!
                                                  One Last “Whoo-Hoo!” For The Pullman
                                                  Casimir Pulaski Day
                                                  To The Workers Of The Rock River Valley Region, I have An Idea Concerning Your Predicament, And It Involves An Inner Tube, Bath Mats, And 21 Able-Bodied Men
                                                  The Man Of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts
                                                  Prairie Fire That Wanders About
                                                  A Conjunction Of Drones Simulating The Way In Which Sufjan Stevens Has An Existential Crisis In The Great Godfrey Maze
                                                  The Predatory Wasp Of The Palisades Is Out To Get Us
                                                  They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back From The Dead!! Ahhhh!
                                                  Let’s Hear That String Part Again, Because I Don’t Think They Heard It All The Way Out In Bushnell 
                                                  In This Temple As In The Hearts Of Man For Whom He Saved The Earth
                                                  The Seer’s Tower
                                                  The Tallest Man, The Broadest Shoulders / Part I: The Great Frontier / Part II: Come To Me Only With Playthings Now
                                                  Riffs And Variations On A Single Note For Jelly Roll, Earl Hines, Louis Armstrong, Baby Dodds, And The King Of Swing, To Name A Few
                                                  Out Of Egypt, Into The Great Laugh Of Mankind, And I Shake The Dirt From My  Sandals As I Run

                                                  Sufjan Stevens

                                                  Presents Greetings From Michigan

                                                    Sufjan's homage to his home state is a beautiful mix of Stereolab meets Philip Glass meets indie-folk - a delicate vocal with intricate instrumentation. 

                                                    Although he plays all the instruments on the album himself, he enlists the help of fellow Danielson Famile members  Megan, Elin, and Daniel Smith on vocal duties.

                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                    Flint (For The Unemployed And Underpaid)
                                                    All Good Naysayers, Speak Up! Or Forever Hold Your Peace!
                                                    For The Widows In Paradise, For The Fatherless In Ypsilanti
                                                    Say Yes! To M!ch!gan!
                                                    The Upper Peninsula
                                                    Tahquamenon Falls
                                                    Detroit, Lift Up Your Weary Head! (Rebuild! Restore! Reconsider!)
                                                    Alanson, Crooked River
                                                    Sleeping Bear, Sault Saint Marie
                                                    They Also Mourn Who Do Not Wear Black (For The Homeless In Muskegon)
                                                    Oh God, Where Are You Now? (In Pickeral Lake? Pigeon? Marquette? Mackinaw?)
                                                    Redford (For Yia-Yia & Pappou)
                                                    Vito’s Ordination Song

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