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Sufjan Stevens - Songs For Christmas

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Songs For Christmas

Sufjan Stevens

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Like Avalanche, Songs for Christmas is nothing if not eclectic. A whole sleigh-load of carols and original tunes collected from 2001 to 2006, these songs were written and recorded off the cuff, and naturally many of them feel a little ragged and underdone. But they're far more mature than any of the songs on A Sun Came, and there are moments of quirky holiday splendor -- moments akin to some of the best material on Greetings from Michigan and Illinoise -- that make plowing through the entire five-EP set a pleasure. If you're worried that Sufjan Stevens will sound a trifle predictable or indulgent covering traditionals like "Silent Night," your worries are justified. Recorders, oboes, glockenspiels, and banjos abound, and Stevens approaches these songs with the same vulnerability, preciousness, and weird religious overtones (à la Seven Swans) as he has on his previous work. That aside, "O Holy Night" and "O Come O Come Emmanuel" are deeply affecting, especially because they rely on Stevens' idiosyncratic arrangements and frail voice. The real sugarplums, though, are the original tunes. "That Was the Worst Christmas Ever!" is all meandering banjos and luminous harmonies reminiscent of "Romulus" and "Casimir Pulaski Day," and the jumpy "Get Behind Me, Santa!" reaches "The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts" heights with some of the best Santa-related lyrics the world has yet known ("You're a bad brother breakin' into people's garages!"). Stevens fans will love Songs for Christmas. Unabashedly, almost frighteningly, with the kind of glee normally attributed to a certain jolly old elf, fans will revel in this little blue box with its silver lettering and scribbly Christmas art. In addition to 42 shiny new tracks, the lucky recipients of Songs for Christmas will also receive: An animated short by Tom Eaton! One (mildly creepy) poster of Stevens in full holiday regalia! Two short stories by Stevens! A weird essay by Rick Moody! And a complete singalong book for the entire EP set! Not to mention stickers! And comics! Songs for Christmas is a veritable stocking's worth of doodads and oddities lovingly embroidered with Stevens' kitschy crayon drawings, scribbly pencil sketches, and extra-long song titles. Which adds up to one merry Christmas indeed for Sufjan Stevens fans.
© Margaret Reges /TiVo

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Songs For Christmas

Sufjan Stevens

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1
Silent Night
00:00:44

Sufjan Stevens, Artist, Main Artist

2006 Asthmatic Kitty 2006 Asthmatic Kitty

2
O Come O Come Emmanuel
00:04:00

Sufjan Stevens, Artist, Main Artist

2006 Asthmatic Kitty 2006 Asthmatic Kitty

3
We're Goin' To the Country!
00:02:17

Sufjan Stevens, Artist, Main Artist

2006 Asthmatic Kitty 2006 Asthmatic Kitty

4
Lo! How A Rose E'er Blooming
00:03:22

Sufjan Stevens, Artist, Main Artist

2006 Asthmatic Kitty 2006 Asthmatic Kitty

5
It's Christmas! Let's Be Glad!
00:01:55

Sufjan Stevens, Artist, Main Artist

2006 Asthmatic Kitty 2006 Asthmatic Kitty

6
Holy Holy, etc.
00:00:41

Sufjan Stevens, Artist, Main Artist

2006 Asthmatic Kitty 2006 Asthmatic Kitty

7
Amazing Grace
00:04:08

Sufjan Stevens, Artist, Main Artist

2006 Asthmatic Kitty 2006 Asthmatic Kitty

DISC 2

1
Angels We Have Heard on High
00:00:45

Sufjan Stevens, Artist, Main Artist

2006 Asthmatic Kitty 2006 Asthmatic Kitty

2
Put the Lights On the Tree
00:01:48

Sufjan Stevens, Artist, Main Artist

2006 Asthmatic Kitty 2006 Asthmatic Kitty

3
Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
00:04:43

Sufjan Stevens, Artist, Main Artist

2006 Asthmatic Kitty 2006 Asthmatic Kitty

4
I Saw Three Ships
00:02:34

Sufjan Stevens, Artist, Main Artist

2006 Asthmatic Kitty 2006 Asthmatic Kitty

5
Only at Christmas Time
00:02:14

Sufjan Stevens, Artist, Main Artist

2006 Asthmatic Kitty 2006 Asthmatic Kitty

6
Once in Royal David's City
00:03:40

Sufjan Stevens, Artist, Main Artist

2006 Asthmatic Kitty 2006 Asthmatic Kitty

7
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!
00:00:45

Sufjan Stevens, Artist, Main Artist

2006 Asthmatic Kitty 2006 Asthmatic Kitty

8
What Child Is This Anyway?
00:06:47

Sufjan Stevens, Artist, Main Artist

2006 Asthmatic Kitty 2006 Asthmatic Kitty

9
Bring A Torch, Jeanette, Isabella
00:01:39

Sufjan Stevens, Artist, Main Artist

2006 Asthmatic Kitty 2006 Asthmatic Kitty

DISC 3

1
O Come O Come Emmanuel
00:01:03

Sufjan Stevens, Artist, Main Artist

2006 Asthmatic Kitty 2006 Asthmatic Kitty

2
Come on! Let's Boogey to the Elf Dance!
00:03:49

Sufjan Stevens, Artist, Main Artist

2006 Asthmatic Kitty 2006 Asthmatic Kitty

3
We Three Kings
00:02:58

Sufjan Stevens, Artist, Main Artist

2006 Asthmatic Kitty 2006 Asthmatic Kitty

4
O Holy Night
00:04:04

Sufjan Stevens, Artist, Main Artist

2006 Asthmatic Kitty 2006 Asthmatic Kitty

5
That Was the Worst Christmas Ever!
00:03:18

Sufjan Stevens, Artist, Main Artist

2006 Asthmatic Kitty 2006 Asthmatic Kitty

6
Ding! Dong!
00:00:55

Sufjan Stevens, Artist, Main Artist

2006 Asthmatic Kitty 2006 Asthmatic Kitty

7
All the King's Horns
00:02:59

Sufjan Stevens, Artist, Main Artist

2006 Asthmatic Kitty 2006 Asthmatic Kitty

8
The Friendly Beasts
00:03:42

Sufjan Stevens, Artist, Main Artist

2006 Asthmatic Kitty 2006 Asthmatic Kitty

DISC 4

1
The Little Drummer Boy
00:03:43

Sufjan Stevens, Artist, Main Artist

2006 Asthmatic Kitty 2006 Asthmatic Kitty

2
Away In A Manger
00:02:54

Sufjan Stevens, Artist, Main Artist

2006 Asthmatic Kitty 2006 Asthmatic Kitty

3
Hey Guys! It's Christmas Time!
00:04:41

Sufjan Stevens, Artist, Main Artist

2006 Asthmatic Kitty 2006 Asthmatic Kitty

4
The First Noel
00:00:52

Sufjan Stevens, Artist, Main Artist

2006 Asthmatic Kitty 2006 Asthmatic Kitty

5
Did I Make You Cry On Christmas Day? (Well, You Deserved It!)
00:03:21

Sufjan Stevens, Artist, Main Artist

2006 Asthmatic Kitty 2006 Asthmatic Kitty

6
The Incarnation
00:02:23

Sufjan Stevens, Artist, Main Artist

2006 Asthmatic Kitty 2006 Asthmatic Kitty

7
Joy To The World
00:04:20

Sufjan Stevens, Artist, Main Artist

2006 Asthmatic Kitty 2006 Asthmatic Kitty

DISC 5

1
Once in Royal David's City
00:02:01

Sufjan Stevens, Artist, Main Artist

2006 Asthmatic Kitty 2006 Asthmatic Kitty

2
Get Behind Me, Santa!
00:03:49

Sufjan Stevens, Artist, Main Artist

2006 Asthmatic Kitty 2006 Asthmatic Kitty

3
Jingle Bells
00:00:36

Sufjan Stevens, Artist, Main Artist

2006 Asthmatic Kitty 2006 Asthmatic Kitty

4
Christmas in July
00:03:16

Sufjan Stevens, Artist, Main Artist

2006 Asthmatic Kitty 2006 Asthmatic Kitty

5
Lo! How A Rose E'er Blooming
00:01:45

Sufjan Stevens, Artist, Main Artist

2006 Asthmatic Kitty 2006 Asthmatic Kitty

6
Jupiter Winter
00:03:50

Sufjan Stevens, Artist, Main Artist

2006 Asthmatic Kitty 2006 Asthmatic Kitty

7
Sister Winter
00:05:04

Sufjan Stevens, Artist, Main Artist

2006 Asthmatic Kitty 2006 Asthmatic Kitty

8
O Come O Come Emmanuel
00:01:06

Sufjan Stevens, Artist, Main Artist

2006 Asthmatic Kitty 2006 Asthmatic Kitty

9
Star of Wonder
00:07:07

Sufjan Stevens, Artist, Main Artist

2006 Asthmatic Kitty 2006 Asthmatic Kitty

10
Holy, Holy, Holy
00:03:50

Sufjan Stevens, Artist, Main Artist

2006 Asthmatic Kitty 2006 Asthmatic Kitty

11
The Winter Solstice
00:03:22

Sufjan Stevens, Artist, Main Artist

2006 Asthmatic Kitty 2006 Asthmatic Kitty

Album Description

Like Avalanche, Songs for Christmas is nothing if not eclectic. A whole sleigh-load of carols and original tunes collected from 2001 to 2006, these songs were written and recorded off the cuff, and naturally many of them feel a little ragged and underdone. But they're far more mature than any of the songs on A Sun Came, and there are moments of quirky holiday splendor -- moments akin to some of the best material on Greetings from Michigan and Illinoise -- that make plowing through the entire five-EP set a pleasure. If you're worried that Sufjan Stevens will sound a trifle predictable or indulgent covering traditionals like "Silent Night," your worries are justified. Recorders, oboes, glockenspiels, and banjos abound, and Stevens approaches these songs with the same vulnerability, preciousness, and weird religious overtones (à la Seven Swans) as he has on his previous work. That aside, "O Holy Night" and "O Come O Come Emmanuel" are deeply affecting, especially because they rely on Stevens' idiosyncratic arrangements and frail voice. The real sugarplums, though, are the original tunes. "That Was the Worst Christmas Ever!" is all meandering banjos and luminous harmonies reminiscent of "Romulus" and "Casimir Pulaski Day," and the jumpy "Get Behind Me, Santa!" reaches "The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts" heights with some of the best Santa-related lyrics the world has yet known ("You're a bad brother breakin' into people's garages!"). Stevens fans will love Songs for Christmas. Unabashedly, almost frighteningly, with the kind of glee normally attributed to a certain jolly old elf, fans will revel in this little blue box with its silver lettering and scribbly Christmas art. In addition to 42 shiny new tracks, the lucky recipients of Songs for Christmas will also receive: An animated short by Tom Eaton! One (mildly creepy) poster of Stevens in full holiday regalia! Two short stories by Stevens! A weird essay by Rick Moody! And a complete singalong book for the entire EP set! Not to mention stickers! And comics! Songs for Christmas is a veritable stocking's worth of doodads and oddities lovingly embroidered with Stevens' kitschy crayon drawings, scribbly pencil sketches, and extra-long song titles. Which adds up to one merry Christmas indeed for Sufjan Stevens fans.
© Margaret Reges /TiVo

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