#3 on the 2010 Musical Bacon Calendar
The Age of Adz by Sufjan Stevens
On Dec. 1, when I started the 2010 Musical Bacon Calendar, Sufjan Stevens was not on it. The Age of Adz1 had been out for barely a month and a half (released Oct. 12), and it simply hadn’t been on my radar. Sufjan hadn’t released any new song-based full-length records since 2005’s phenomenal Illinois, and what he had released since that time were b-sides, scores, and other somewhat uninteresting stuff. I didn’t expect much from his new album, so I hadn’t sought it out yet, even though I’d known it was released.
Thanks to one friend of mine, who knew I was doing the countdown and had a pretty good grasp of my musical tastes based on past years’ calendars, who proclaimed, “You simply cannot complete the advent calendar without having first listened to this album.” Boy was he right. I picked up The Age of Adz on his insistance. And from that very first listen, I knew I had an album that would make the countdown. Since the countdown had already begun, I had to cut #30 or #29 from the list to make room for the late addition. And from that day forward, The Age of Adz slowly climbed the charts. First at #27, then up to #10, then to #3, where it finally hit a point that it couldn’t surpass.
I predict listening to this album well into the future. It’s much more interesting — née fascinating — than Illinois or anything that followed. And I rank Illinois quite high, falling in my Top 10 Albums of the Oughts list somewhere between #10 and #35. I also predict this album to get more and more airplay throughout 2011. It just hasn’t yet been given its due, even though it debuted at #7 on the Billboard 200.
Missing the Sufjan Stevens show at the Paramount earlier this year will go down as a big mistake on my part. According to another friend who talked highly of this album, the show Sufjan put on in Portland immediately following his performance here in Seattle was “the best show [he’s] seen in the past five years.” Based on hearing this album, damn. If I had seen that show, I’m guessing this album would have been #1.
The Age of Adz is much more experimental than anything Sufjan has produced previously. It begs listening multiple times, with headphones, as there are so many electronic layers of sound going in and around the melodies, it’s impossible to get everything on the first pass. There’s only one sore spot on the entire album, and it comes about 10 minutes into the epic, 25+ minute “Impossible Soul” at the end of the album. Sufjan plays around with a lot of new things on this album, but autotune should not have been one of them.
So, thank you Ryan, and thank you, Pete. Without you two feeding me music from time to time, I might very well miss some of the best stuff around. Now, if you could create a time machine to help me go back and see the Sufjan show at the Paramount this year, you would be miracle workers. (Don’t put it past me to waste a great opportunity like a time machine by simply going back and seeing a great concert.)
Stay tuned for numbers 2 and 1! I know you simply can’t wait
4. Odd Blood by Yeasayer
5. Mines by Menomena
6. Contra by Vampire Weekend
7. Go by Jónsi
8. The Suburbs by Arcade Fire
9. Gorilla Manor by the Local Natives
10. The Head and the Heart by the Head and the Heart
11. Special Affections by Diamond Rings
12. Treats by Sleigh Bells
13. Write About Love by Belle & Sebastian
14. Wild Smile by Suckers
15. Learning by Perfume Genius
16. Forgiveness Rock Record by Broken Social Scene
17. Expo 86 by Wolf Parade
18. One Life Stand by Hot Chip
19. Big Echo by The Morning Benders
20. Here’s To Taking It Easy by Phosphorescent
21. This is Happening by LCD Soundsystem
22. The Mistress by Yellow Ostrich
23. Halcyon Digest by Deerhunter
24. Been Listening by Johnny Flynn
25. The Wild Hunt by The Tallest Man on Earth
26. Lisbon by The Walkmen
27. Scratch My Back by Peter Gabriel
28. All Day by Girl Talk
29. A Storm – A Tree – My Mother’s Head by Bobby Bare Jr.
30. 03 to TEN by Knathan Ryan
31. In This Light On This Evening by Editors
Pronounced “The Age of Odds”, and I’ll be damned if that italic z doesn’t look fantastic here. ↩