Tag Archives: Sufjan Stevens


Lola Marsh Launch New Tour Tomorrow Night at Rough Trade NYC

March 5th, 2018

Gil Landau (guitar and vocals) and Yael Shoshana Cohen (vocals, percussion and ukulele)—now joined by Mati Gilad (bass and vocals), Rami Osservaser (guitar, keys and vocals), Dekel Dvir (drums and vocals) and Ran Gil (keys)—formed the Israeli folk-oriented Lola Marsh five years ago in Tel Aviv. Their debut EP, You’re Mine (stream it below), filled with evocative lyrics, Middle Eastern guitar melodies and Cohen’s sultry vocals, arrived in 2016. Interview magazine says their “unique sound straddles the line between indie folk and electro-pop.” Their first LP, Remember Roses (stream it below), followed last year, sounding “inspired, matured and smooth. Yael and Gil have managed to free themselves from overwhelming influences—be it Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, Nick Drake, Sufjan Stevens, Edith Piaf—and compose a feel-good soundtrack for the summer season,” according to Vents Magazine. “The album shines with suave romanticism and sweet nostalgia. Friendship, love and fears from childhood are recurrent themes that flow throughout the 11 songs.” Lola Marsh (above, performing “Wishing Girl” for Paste Studios) launch a new American tour tomorrow night at Rough Trade NYC. And singer-songwriter Hillary Capps opens the show.


Planetarium’s Wondrous Aural Expansion at Celebrate Brooklyn

July 19th, 2017

Planetarium – Celebrate Brooklyn at the Prospect Park Bandshell – July 18, 2017

Upon reflection, I can’t say that I’ve ever before seen a concert for one album that was recomposed from original concert performances. Planetarium is this year’s grand, ambitious concept album that originated years ago when contemporary classical composer Nico Muhly was commissioned by Dutch concert hall Muziekgebouw Eindhoven to create a performance piece. With the cosmos as his muse, Muhly recruited friends and contemporaries Sufjan Stevens, the National’s Bryce Dessner and the multidimensional James McAlister to bring an ode to the universe to life. Those live performances were unearthed and reconstructed in studio and are now returning to their point of genesis as a monumental set of live renditions played in a small run of special engagements.

Last night, the unexpected quartet, backed by brass and string sections, unleashed Planetarium before an awestruck turnout at Celebrate Brooklyn at the Prospect Park Bandshell. Special engagements call for special venues and the always enchanting Bandshell’s open natural amphitheater space, nestled among grand old trees, was the obvious home for a performance that needed the freedom to spread into the atmosphere. For this manifestation of universal magnificence here were the fearless voyagers, each a conduit of the sonic forces that merged into a glorious big bang. Their express mission was to widen scope and to inspire earthbound beings to expand perspective at all opportunities.

On this tour through the planets of our solar system, Stevens, doused in glitter to symbolize the infinitum is stars, served as the quintessential vocal guide. After floating in on piano keys from the heavens as an introduction to “Neptune,” he took a moment to welcome everyone with a few words on the significance of their musical observance of the universe. “We must remind ourselves that the universe holds an abundance of truth and purity, dignity and light … let us all remember that.” Joining Stevens, Muhly sat behind his grand piano like the captain at a spaceship’s control deck, his role to lend a limitless depth of field. McAlister, the percussive wizard, sat at his expanded drum set, gracefully keeping time in a timeless medium and adding flourishes of cymbal when needed. All the while, Dessner, armed with his trusted guitar, provided masterful manipulation of guitar strings issuing forth as a million beams of light, adding the particulate matter to the grand tapestry. In the beginning, there was sound, glorious and immeasurable—and artistically reinterpreted by this group of talented musicians, it was a singular and magical thing to behold. —Charles Steinberg | @Challyolly



The Staves Build Bridges at Music Hall of Williamsburg on Friday

March 13th, 2017

The Staves – Music Hall of Williamsburg – March 10, 2017


As youngsters in England, Emily, Jessica and Camilla Staveley-Taylor learned guitar from their father and sang heavy folk melodies at the local pub, which has bloomed into something bigger. Their sweet sisterly harmonies have earned the Staves opening slots for the Civil Wars, Bon Iver and Florence and the Machine. The siblings formed such a strong friendship with Justin Vernon that the Bon Iver frontman produced their last album, If I Was. Playing at Music Hall of Williamsburg Friday night, the first of two sold-out weekend shows in Brooklyn, the sisters were a lovely respite after the morning’s snowfall. Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer” introduced the ladies—and drummer Dave Power—to the stage. The show began with Camilla on ukulele for “Blood I Bled,” while Jessica, on guitar, and Emily, behind keys, offered backing vocals.

Opener Mikaela Davis added harp on the breakup song “No Me, No You, No More” as Jessica’s elfin vocals rang across the room. Midway through the set, when Emily and Camilla needed to swap stage positions, Jessica stalled with some light conversation about Gilmore Girls, which the band had been watching on the bus. This sent the crowd into a tizzy with shouts of “Team Jess,” but it was the sisters’ critical takes on the character Rory as “a nause” (an English term of annoyance) that elicited cheers. Vernon’s influences were obvious once everyone was in the right place and Camilla created an echo chamber with a series of vocal loops on “Train Tracks,” similar to those on Bon Iver songs. The skip-hop cadence of “Black & White” perked up fans and grew for the anthemic “Tired as Fuck” as crowd members clapped along to Camilla’s languid delivery. An encore was inevitable and Davis returned again for a dreaming acoustic cover of Sufjan Steven’s “Chicago.” Jessica prefaced the final song, “Mexico,” with “Don’t build walls, let’s build bridges.” —Sharlene Chiu


With a New Album, My Brightest Diamond Plays The Bowery Ballroom

September 23rd, 2014

Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Shara Worden has employed many of her considerable talents in mixing cabaret, chamber music, opera and rock as My Brightest Diamond for nearly a decade. The operatically trained vocalist’s debut full-length, Bring Me the Workhorse (stream it below), arrived in 2006 on Sufjan Stevens’ label, Asthmatic Kitty. Pitchfork noted the “accomplished, graceful music” in praising it. My Brightest Diamond (above, performing at the Haldern Pop Festival live on Rockpalast) has since made a bigger sounding album, 2008’s A Thousand Shark’s Teeth (stream it below)— replete with 20 musicians including a string section—and a boundary-pushing LP influenced by her Detroit roots—2011’s All Things Will Unwind (stream it below). And on her fourth full-length, This Is My Hand (stream it below), out last week, she, again, moves in a different direction. NME gushes, “Shara Worden makes a bid to join the U.S. experimental pop pantheon.” And according to AllMusic, “this unlikely but captivating combination of high art and pop culture delivers some of Worden’s most creative and fully realized music.” The one-time New Yorker returns to play The Bowery Ballroom on Thursday. Another talented genre-blending singer-songwriter, Doe Paoro, opens the show.


Sufjan Stevens – The Bowery Ballroom – December 21, 2012

December 24th, 2012

Photo courtesy of Stephanie F. Black | www.flickr.com/photos/blackfrances


Grow a Pair: Win Free Tickets to See Sufjan Stevens on 12/21

December 18th, 2012


Singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens recently released his second Christmas album, Silver & Gold: Songs for Christmas, Vols. 6-10. And to that end, he’s coming to town to close out his Surfjohn Stevens Christmas Sing-A-Long Seasonal Affective Disorder Yuletide Disaster Pageant on Ice tour on Friday and Saturday at The Bowery Ballroom. Both highly in-demand dates go on sale tomorrow at noon, but The House List is also giving away two tickets to Friday’s show. Want to go? Try to Grow a Pair. All you have to do is fill out the form below, making sure to include your full name, e-mail address, which show you’re trying to win tickets to (Sufjan Stevens, 12/21) and a brief message explaining your favorite nontraditional Christmas song. Eddie Bruiser, a sucker for the Yuletide stylings of Chuck Brown, will choose the winner by Friday. Good luck.

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Sufjan Stevens Delights The Bowery Ballroom

October 6th, 2009

Sufjan Stevens – The Bowery Ballroom – October 5, 2009

Sufjan Stevens - The Bowery Ballroom - October 5, 2009Like all of his NYC appearances this month, Sufjan Stevens’ show at The Bowery Ballroom last night was sold out. He’s been heavily praised for every piece he’s created, and for good reason: Stevens has set an impossibly high standard that he lives up to every time. The set began with “The Mistress Witch from McClure,” with Stevens gently picking a banjo and accompanied by a French horn. You could hear the floorboards creaking beneath the shifting weight of hundreds of hushed fans, the silence interrupted only by roaring applause. During “Casimir Pulaski Day” a girl was so moved she asked the bartender for napkins to wipe away tears.

It was hard to not read into everything—the shirt Stevens wore, the phrasing of a verse, the humble offhand comments or every nuance—to decipher the complexity of what was happening onstage. Stevens’ band of at least eight rotating members, including Nedelle Torrisi from the opening band, Cryptacize, on backing vocals, crowded the stage with instruments and music stands. Stevens explained he was touring for the “first time in a while” and that he was “using it as an opportunity to workshop some new songs,” like “Impossible Soul,” which showcased his electronic side. He wasn’t singing in a falsetto whisper, but belting out echoed vocals over a hard-rock arrangement that featured him deconstructing a solo, seemingly trying to prove he’s capable of hitting a wrong note, making something ugly for once. (But just barely.)

Any sign of improvisation in the jazzed-up versions of songs like “Come On! Feel the Illinoise!” was always carefully composed chaos. Perfectionist Stevens obviously used the term workshop very loosely. I expected to see an artist in the studio, stretching canvas, working on half-finished abstract paintings. Instead, he unveiled completed, overwhelming masterpieces. As usual. —Jason Dean

Photos courtesy of Greg Notch | photography.notch.org/music