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  • Jordan Maahs

Singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and all-around wild card Sufjan Stevens is back with Carrie & Lowell; his 7th studio album and first since the 2010 masterpiece, The Age of Ads. After experimenting with other music styles and projects, including electronic and hip-hop, he has returned to the indie rock sound that garnered him so much attention and success earlier in his career with albums like ‘Michigan’ and ‘Come On Feel The Illinoise!’.

The latter two albums were part of an interesting mission that had Stevens set out to complete an album in the theme of each of the 50 US States. He later abandoned the project, telling Paste in 2009, “"The whole premise was such a joke and I think maybe I took it too seriously."

Call it a joke. Call it a gimmick. Stevens is known for breaking the mold and doing things a little bit differently, whether that means writing a heart-felt ballad about serial killer John Wayne Gacy or allowing the public to believe that he went into exile for several years to teach himself his instruments and fully conceptualize his ‘50-State Project’.

Regardless, Stevens is still recognized as an extraordinary musician and is regularly featured on his albums playing all the instruments through multi-track recording. His musical education actually began when he learned the oboe and English horn in secondary school, only going on to learn guitar and other instruments during his time in college. He has been credited on his albums for his acoustic guitar, piano, wurlitzer, electric bass, drum kit, electric guitar, oboe, alto saxophone, flute, banjo, glockenspiel, accordion, vibraphone, recorders, sleigh bells, shakers, tambourine, triangle, and electric church organ.

Though Stevens is often known for his grandeur and orchestral sounds, Carrie & Lowell is predominately an acoustic album; heavily rooted in guitar and layered vocals. The album is named after Stevens’ step-father and late mother who passed away in 2012 and explores his childhood memories of love and regret. The profound inwardness of this dedication is explicit in the album’s earnest and somber sound especially when compared to his earlier works. This album is especially personal and introspective, clearly drawing on a time and subject of immense personal pain for Stevens. “Should Have Known Better” is an album highlight; a very telling and dark ballad commenting on his relationship with his mother where he recollects being left alone at a video store when he was a toddler. Stevens is completely vulnerable in Carrie & Lowell, and though the album is wholly more solemn than his previous, his return to the indie-folk sound is a triumphant one, indeed.

Sufjan Stevens is currently touring Carrie & Lowell, and he will be playing Massey Hall in Toronto on April 29th.

Listen to one of our favorites - "Blue Bucket Of Gold" below.

#sufjanstevens #sufjan #stevens #carrielowell #carrieandlowell #comefeeltheillinoise #folk #masseyhall #shouldhaveknownbetter #orchestral #acoustic #bluebucketofgold #michigan #comeonfeeltheillinoise #theageofads


Well, it was definitely a Good Friday for about 600 Mumford & Sons fans who grabbed tickets to their show this Easter weekend. After performing last-minute gigs at small venues in London, Berlin, and L.A., the Grammy-winning band announced a surprise show at Lee’s Palace on April 3rd.

Mumford & Sons have sold-out the Air Canada Centre and Molson Amphitheatre on previous tour stops in Toronto, in addition to their own self-curated festival in Simcoe, ON in 2013 — so it was no surprise that tickets to this Good Friday gig sold out in minutes, when they went on sale that morning. Lee’s Palace was forced to keep a security guard at the door all day to turn away those who were unsuccessful in snagging the, much coveted, tickets.

Their, much anticipated, 3rd album ‘Wilder Mind’ is due out May 4th, and though the band strictly played material off of their upcoming release at their secret show, don’t count on recordings surfacing any time soon. At the band’s request, all were asked to check-in their cellphones and cameras at the door. The dedicated fan base, who braved hours in line in the rain to grab a desired spot in the small venue, happily obliged, giving the band their full and complete attention for the 11 song set.

Fans were rewarded with an intimate performance by the British band, who have traded in their banjos for a more anthemic and electric sound. The energetic crowd heartily welcomed the change, with front man Marcus Mumford remarking that, out of all of their past secret shows, the Toronto crowd was “by far the most welcoming.”

The enthusiastic audience attentively listened and danced around to the new material all night, including the anthemic “Broad-Shouldered Beasts and the upbeat and roaring “The Wolf”. The third song of the night was the first officially unveiled album track, “Believe”, to which the audience eagerly and excitedly embraced a massive sing-along. Marcus Mumford dropped his guitar and picked up a tambourine at the climax of the song, leaning off the stage and pleading “Say something, say something… something like you love me” while the passionate crowd belted along with him.

To all the fans who did not scored tickets to this show — don't fret too much. Mumford did promise they’d back to play again in the summer, which is good news for Toronto fans who didn't get to see their favourite band in the intimate club setting.

Wilder Mind is due out on May 4th, and is currently available for pre-order on iTunes. On Thursday April 9th, Mumford & Sons will be releasing the album’s second single, “The Wolf”.

SET LIST:

Snake Eyes

Wilder Mind

Believe

Monster

Just Smoke

Broad-Shouldered Beasts

The Wolf

Tompkins Square Park

Ditmas

Hot Gates

(ENCORE): Only Love

#mumfordsons #london #berlin #aircanadacentre #leespalace #wildermind #believe #thewolf #secretshow #snakeeyes #monster #justsmoke #broadshoulderedbeasts #tompkinssquarepark #ditmas #hotgates #onlylove #folk #rock


On Monday, Jay Z and a few of his friends—including the likes of Jack White, Madonna, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Kanye West, Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, and Arcade Fire—launched TIDAL: a high-fidelity music and video streaming service with a mission “to reestablish the value of music”.

The rise of streaming services like Spotify and Songza has revolutionized the way in which consumers listen to music, and in the process, has dealt a serious blow to album sales. Additionally, it has created a power struggle between different streaming services for the rights to the music of artists. Artists are paid each time their song is streamed. Though this amount is minimal (Spotify pays a fraction of a cent, $0.006-$0.008 per listen), it can add up for big name musicians. Just last week, Kendrick Lamar's new album broke a record and earned $1 million from its first day on the service.

In this already saturated market, Jay-Z promises to offer a bigger cut to artists and higher quality audio files to the masses. Unlike Spotify, there is no free-tier for Tidal. It is $10 a month for a standard subscription, and $20 a month for TIDAL HiFi (which includes “Lossless High Fidelity sound quality”). This may put the service at a disadvantage, as of Spotify’s reported 60 million users, only 15 million are paying subscriptions.

Whether or not Tidal can change where artists put their music exclusively is an open debate. Spotify has already paid more than a billion dollars to artists in royalties, so if artists do get a better rate from Tidal, it is really going to have to get as many paying users on it as possible to make a go of it. The service currently has about 512,000 subscribers, but this number will likely grow with the heavy celebrity endorsements.

This poses a potential problem: Will each service start to offer different artists exclusively, in order to differentiate themselves from each other? —pretty much worse case scenario for music fans and streaming-service users.

Some of the artists signed on with Tidal, including Arcade Fire and Deadmau5, have received backlash for their involvement with the service. Arcade Fire asked fans to “show support” for the service on their Facebook page, causing many negative reactions that suggested the phrasing better suited a charitable endeavour as opposed to a for-profit business. Tidal has also received criticism for seemingly representing only “music’s 1%” — just helping the rich get even richer.

What do you think? Is Tidal’s mission a viable and justifiable one? Will you try it?

#tidal #tidalforall #tidalforall #jayz #beyonce #madonna #rihanna #nickiminaj #kanyewest #taylorswift #arcadefire #spotify #songza #deadmau5 #jackwhite

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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