CD Review of The Avalanche: Outtakes and Extras from Illinoise Album by Sufjan Stevens

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The Avalanche: Outtakes and Extras from Illinoise Album
starstarstarstarstar Label: Asthmatic Kitty Records
Released: 2006
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Oh, you sullen Prince of the Americas. You bastion of all things right and true, both musically and culturally. Okay, let me take this time to backup and preempt the intro. Our man Sufjan Stevens is currently in the process of composing a group of songs, in album form, for every state in the union (sorry Puerto Rico, we’ll get you next time). He’s not doing it in a crazy patriotic way, either. He’s doing it as art. Well, he’d better get crackin’ because he’s only covered Michigan and Illinois. I’m not trying to rush the dude, but the clock is ticking, and if Lindsay Lohan one day garners some kind of “street cred” and is handed this project after it’s about 30 states in, I will personally kick Sufjan Stevens’ ass. I mean it. I don’t care if we’re both relying on our Depends like a nerd relies on a trust fund to get laid, I will throw his fragile ass down a set of stairs. Sorry, got a touch off the topic there…

This particular record, The Avalanche, is comprised of outtakes and whatnot from his most recent stately offering Come on Feel the Illinoise. Dude, it’s so amazing, my balls are sticking to my leg and, honestly, I think it’s better than the actual album that bore the fruits of this so-called record of “outtakes and extras.” Straight up, the reasons to buy this little gem are too numerous to mention in the earthly constraints of this review, but one reason and one reason alone should be enough: my homegirl Rosie Thomas is all over this record. I mean, she’s on nearly every track, and she is the greatest female singer since Patsy f’ing Cline. No joke. She did a few records for Sub Pop and the first one, When We Were Small, was my favorite record of the year in 2002. To paraphrase the musings of one 50 Cent: “I love her like a fat kid love cake.” And I’m still listening to her first record, which is really saying something ‘cause I get a ton of records in order to do this job and I’m typically totally over something in a week to ten days. Okay, that’s not true. I’m still listening to some of the K-Tel cassette compilations I’ve acquired over the years. “Beat Street” was/is the tits.

I really hope Stevens does Idaho next. If there’s not at least one potato song, I’ll be disappointed. Hell, I’ll be disappointed if there’s not a song about Ricks College, the largest private two-year college in the nation. Or sweet, sweet Blackfoot, home of the Eastern Idaho State Fair. By the way, Sufjan, if you use these, I want a songwriter credit.

~Josh Preston