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5.0 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 5 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: SCD / Asthmatic Kitty
  • ASIN: B0009R1T7M
  • In-Print Editions: Audio CD  |  LP Record
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,078 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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1. Concerning The UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois
2. 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 Gonna Have To Leave Now, Or, 'I Have Fought The Big Knives And Will Continue To Fight...
3. Come On! Feel The Illinoise!: Part I: The World's Columbian Exposition/Part II: Carl Sandburg Visits Me In A Dream
4. John Wayne Gacy, Jr.
5. Jacksonville
6. A Short Reprise For Mary Todd, Who Went Insane, But For Very Good Reasons
7. Decatur, Or, Round Of Applause For Your Stepmother!
8. One Last 'Whoo-Hoo!' For The Pullman
9. Chicago
10. Casimir Pulaski Day
11. To The Workers Of The Rock River Valley Region, I Have An Idea Concerning Your Predicament
12. The Man Of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts
13. Prairie Fire That Wanders About
14. A Conjunction Of Drones Simulating The Way In Which Sufjan Stevens Has An Existential Crisis In The Great Godfrey Maze
15. The Predatory Wasp Of The Palisades Is Out To Get Us!
16. They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back From The Dead!! Ahhhh!
17. Let's Hear That String Part Again, Because I Don't Think They Heard It All The Way Out In Bushnell
18. In This Temple As In The Hearts Of Man For Whom He Saved The Earth
19. The Seer's Tower
20. The Tallest Man, The Broadest Shoulders: Part I: The Great Frontier/Part II: Come To Me Only With Playthings Now
See all 22 tracks on this disc

Product Description

Product Description

Subtitled Come On Feel The..., Sufjan Stevens & The Michigan Militia have moved to Illinois (dubbing themselves the Illinoisemakers) but this new album is the same Sufjan we know and love. Fingerpicked ballads of delicate twang, tasteful orchestration, and titles that are murder on the ID3 tags. While this album unmistakably owes its inspiration to the sound of Michigan, Sufjan has managed to take his orchestra-like folk template and expand on it, tapping into unexpected genres and bringing unexpected instruments like strings and woodwinds to the forefront, all while relating tales of the state's history as well as possibly fictional stories about its residents. To sweeten the deal, Sufjan's vocals have also improved some: he's managed to make his thin, meek vocal presence a little more noticeable, and while that doesn't stop him from using members of the quirky Danielson Famile as his own personal choir, it's nice to hear him sound more assured on some of this album's mellower moments. Rough Trade. 2005.

Illinois sounds like The Sea and Cake collaborating with the high-school band from a Wes Anderson film on banjo-driven, pulsing meditations on Vince Guaraldi's music for Peanuts. Sufjan Stevens, the singer-songwriter behind the endeavor, is an earnest and whimsical young man who aims to record an album based on every state in the union, though this is just his second attempt since 2003's Michigan. Lavish praise has been heaped upon this precocious twenty-something, who weaves personal recollections, historical narratives, and strange facts together to create lush portraits of Midwestern life. It's not maudlin stuff, and the atypical instrumentation (strings, choirs, trumpets, vibes) is beyond gimmick. Halfway through "John Wayne Gacy, Jr.," when Stevens has you feeling true empathy for a serial killer, it's clear that he really is an artist of the highest order. These are weird and lovely middlebrow ditties; we eagerly await the Broadway adaptation. --Mike McGonigal

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Format: Audio CD
I absolutely loved "Greetings from Michigan" but I must admit, I thought the whole "50 albums for 50 states" was a pretty thin premise and that he'd have quite a tough time outdoing the debut. Then along came "Illinoise".
Stevens' skill as a composer of complex, emotionally-laden melodies is only increasing with time and practice, as is his ability to tap into the legends, triumphs and shames of a populace.
The album is a suite, designed to immerse the listener into the cultural identity of the place, and for that reason it is a shame to give any of the songs precedence over the others. However, if there is one song on this album that deserves special mention, it has to be "John Wayne Gacy", a truly chilling and heartbreaking piece that highlights Stevens' real gift: sympathy - for victim and aggressor alike. He uses simple words and a soaring, theremin-like vocal line to bridge the gap between horror and acceptance, exposing the good an evil that lies in every heart. It still brings me to tears even after repeated listens.
Once again, his gentle take on the Christian faith comes to the fore, but as in "Michigan" it is less a cloying tack-on than a simple and truthful expression of thankfulness the source of his immense creativity and hope. It can't help but leave the listener thinking that if everyone knew Sufjan's version of God, the world just might be an immeasurably better place.
I came away from "Illinoise" with a renewed sense of faith -- in Sufjan himself. If he continues as strongly down this path he's set for himself we may be seeing the emergence of a true American musical genius, an unflinching Chronicler-in-Chief of the nation's dreams, crimes and acheivements.
I live in hope!
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Format: Audio CD
Sufjan Stevens' ode to the state of Illinois is probably his best album yet. It is rich in sounds, it is quirky and strange without distancing its listener, and always engaging. The marching band aesthetic gives the album an etheral, innocent, complex sound that carries the album from the odd introductory "Concerning The UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois" right through to "Out Of Egypt, Into The Great Laugh Of Mankind, And I Shake The Dirt From My Sandals As I Run".

Just by seeing this album on store shelves, you know it's no ordinary album. Even the cover art, depicting a fantastic bricolage of Illinois figures and symbols, even the wildly thought-out track titles and the strange way they are arranged, with outros and intros all over the place indicates that this is not for a passive listener. And yet anyone who is remotely interested in something even a LITTLE different than top 40 radio could extract something out of "Come on Feel the Illinoise"... there are just that many layers.

One comment about the album (and I am unsure as to whether this is a criticism or a praise) is that it is difficult for the disc to be broken apart. If one of the songs is separated from the others, it just doesn't sound the same. Folks with ipods: when you're in the mood for Stevens' 'Illinoise' turn off shuffle and pick the album. As a whole, the album is much like a soundtrack to a ridiculously good musical spectacular about Illinois that never was (or will be, for that matter).

Stevens is publically a very spiritual artist, but the album not only refuses to alienate, but actually ATTRACTS secular listeners. Stevens' spiritual sensability lends to a sweeet, calming, intricate listen.
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By Peter Uys HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on Feb. 9 2008
Format: Audio CD
This inspired concept album is incredibly rich and varied in its themes, musical styles and presentation. The lyrics are poetic whilst the music may be characterized as soulful folk-pop with orchestral infusions. The banjo plays a leading role but there are some scattered bursts of electrical guitar here and there.

The songs encompass emotions from joy to melancholy, and are interspersed with colorfully titled brief instrumental snippets like A Short Reprise for Mary Todd or vocal ones like One Last Woohoo for the Pullman. For all its dazzling variety, the album is surprisingly cohesive and the following are my personal favorites:
The celebratory Come On Feel The Illinoise with its intricate arrangement, the buoyant Decatur with its witty rhyme scheme and lilting beat, the poignant and solemn Casimir Pulaski Day, the sensitive treatment of a horrible subject like John Wayne Gacy, the mix of sadness and elation in the rousing and catchy tune Chicago, Man Of Metropolis with its segments of hard rock guitar and the tender Tallest Man.

Wow what a listening experience Illinois proved to be. On these exquisite melodies, Sufjan's intimate voice is often framed by the most elegant backing vocals over a rich and graceful instrumental mix. The music is infused with a stirring sense of spirituality. Illinois is the most inspiring and uplifting album I have heard in a long long time.
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By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Feb. 23 2007
Format: Audio CD
Only time will tell if Sufjan Stevens manages to churn out enough albums for all fifty states. Since 2003, he's covered only two of the states. Maybe he can combine some state names...

But whether or not he covers the whole USA, Stevens' will keep charming people with his music, as he does in his latest album "Illinoise." And no, that is not a typo. It's sort of folk -- dreamy acoustic pop, with songs about aliens, God, and wacky interludes. This is folk music for the Wes Anderson fans.

It opens with a dreamy intro about a UFO, written in elusive language that could hint at either aliens or a religious vision. Your pick which it is, but Stevens' sweet voice and birdlike instruments make it sound ethereal... before it switches over into the choral singing and inspiring horns of "Black Hawk War." By the time it's over, you'll feel like saluting.

Stevens uses that as a springboard for lighter material -- inspiring rock anthems, mellow acoustic music, and vaguely ominous balladry. Some of the songs wouldn't be out of place at a down-home barn dance, and others are sparkling indie bliss. And yes, some songs dabble at both styles, like the sweeping dancey "Man of Metropolis."

By the last stretch of the album, Stevens switches over to a folk-dreampop style, with cute little interludes between the songs. "They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!!" wins for most unique title, but it also shows Stevens off in his eerie folk best. It's a sound that continues its melancholy way, right to the end -- the sparkling "Out of Egypt."

Yep, "Illinoise" is one of those albums that qualifies as an experience -- it's the sort of music that transports you away, and doesn't set you back down until it ends.
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