Sufjan and Drake aren’t artists who come into each other’s orbit often.

Despite that, this Tumblr has written a 20 Chapter fan fiction account of the pair’s romantic relationship with titles like “sufjan writes a diss track” and “drake and sufjan fight at cheesecake”.

Now those same industrious folks Riveyoncé Cuoknowles have put together a mashup album of Drake and Sufjan songs called Six Swans featuring tracks by various artists.

Do with that information what you will. Bandcamp / Google Drive.

Posted on October 11th, 2016

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Update: It’s 2016, I found this post and enjoyed it. I’ve now added a Spotify playlist of all of the albums available.

Below is a list of my favourite records of the ten years between the turn of the millenium, the year 2000 and 2010. Ranking these albums was led by a) what the album means to me and b) how often I’d listen to it. Each and every one of these albums blew me away repeatedly at some time between the ages of 18 and 27. Each one has something special going for it, something magical that brings me back to it. For that I can only thank the creators of each.

Without further ado, here are my favourite 50 albums from the decade. And remember, you can’t be wrong if they are your favourites.

Listen on Spotify

Nialler9’s albums of the decade (2000-2010)

  1. The KnifeSilent Shout (2006)
  2. Joanna Newsom Ys  (2006)
  3. Broken Social SceneBroken Social Scene (2005)
  4. Queens of the Stone AgeSongs for the Deaf (2002)
  5. Arcade FireFuneral  (2005)
  6. J DillaDonuts  (2006)
  7. BattlesMirrored (2007)
  8. Animal Collective –  Feels  (2005)
  9. RadioheadKid A  (2001)
  10. Why? Alopecia (2008)
  11. GorillazDemon Days  (2005)
  12. The StrokesIs this it?  (2001)
  13. MIA/DiploPiracy Funds Terrorism / Arular    (2004/2005)
  14. Four TetRounds (2003)
  15. Cannibal OxCold Vein (2001)
  16. Death in VegasScorpio Rising  (2003)
  17. LCD SoundsystemSound of Silver (2007)
  18. Panda BearPerson Pitch  (2007)
  19. The StreetsOriginal Pirate Material  (2002)
  20. Aphex TwinDrukqs  (2001)
  21. PlaidDouble Figure (2001)
  22. Godspeed You! Black EmperorLevez vos Skinny Fists (2000)
  23. Saul WilliamsSaul Williams (2004)
  24. MadvillainMadvillainy  (2004)
  25. Buck 65Talkin’ Honky Blues  (2003)
  26. SquarepusherGo Plastic (2001)
  27. Sufjan StevensSeven Swans  (2004)
  28. The AvalanchesSince I Left You  (2000)
  29. Super Furry AnimalsRings Around the World  (2002)
  30. BeirutThe Flying Club Cup  (2007)
  31. DJ ShadowThe Private Press  (2002)
  32. Girl TalkNight Ripper  (2006)
  33. Broken Social SceneYou Forgot it in People (2003)
  34. Grizzly Bear  – Veckatimest (2009)
  35. Bon Iver For Emma Forever Ago  (2008)
  36. CamilleLe Fil  (2006)
  37. Animal CollectiveMerriweather Post-Pavilion  (2009)
  38. El-PI’ll Sleep When You’re Dead (2007)
  39. Bloc PartySilent Alarm (2005)
  40. OutkastStankonia (2000)
  41. DangerdoomThe Mouse and the Mask (2005)
  42. The Beta BandHot Shots II (2001)
  43. Max TundraMastered by Guy at the Exchange (2002)
  44. MogwaiMr Beast (2006)
  45. Primal Scream XTRMNTR  (2000)
  46. Wolf ParadeApologies to the Queen Mary (2005)
  47. Jamie LidellMultiply  (2005)
  48. Dangermouse The Grey Album (2004)
  49. Flying LotusLos Angeles  (2008)
  50. Shugo TokumaruL.S.T. (2006)

Posted on February 25th, 2016

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Gallant was one of my top 14 artists to love in 2016 earlier this week and as I mentioned he played with Sufjan Stevens on tour recently.

Here, the pair team up for a stripped-back version of the closing song from Carrie And Lowell, ‘Blue Bucket Of Gold’ in which Gallant takes the lead vocal.

The video is a first in Gallant’s In A Room Series of collaborations.

Posted on January 7th, 2016

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Best of 2015: Albums | Songs | Videos | Readers’ Albums | Readers’ Songs Readers’ Gigs, Clubs & DJs | Your Intl. albums & songs | Top 10 Lists | Nialler’s Irish choices


My top albums of the year with context and links plus it’s all in one place on Spotify. This is part of the Best of 2015 Series.

Best Albums of 2015 Spotify playlist


30. Beach House – Depression Cherry
29. Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color
28. Boot & Tax – Boot & Tax
27. The Chemical Brothers – Born In The Echoes
26. Floating Points – Elaenia

25. Young Fathers – White Men Are Black Men Too
24. All We Are – All We Are
23. Wax Stag – II
22. Four Tet – Morning/Evening
21. D’angelo – Black Messiah
20. Villagers – Darling Arithmetic 

19. Jessica Pratt – On Your Own Love Again
18. !!! – As If
17. Braids – Deep In The Iris
16. Anderson – Patterns


15.

Roisin Murphy

Hairless Toys

hairless

A peerless singer makes a fearless record.

Roisin Murphy’s third album is a sophisticated and layered album that furthers the career of an outlier and a creative artist, making accessible but avant-garde music that draws from pop, dance, disco and jazz.

From the elongated elegance of ‘Exploitation’ to the spooked ‘Gone Fishing’ to the warped ballad of ‘Unputdownable’ to the poppy bass-slung groove of ‘Evil Eyes’, Murphy creates duality throughout: intimate and anamorphic, detailed yet sparse, Glamourous yet grubby, Loungey yet dancy. Murphy remains the magnet at the centre of Hairless Toys as she has been throughout her career. Where-ever she goes, I will follow.

Listen on Spotify

14.

Grimes

Art Angels

Grimes

This is what 21st Century pop music is supposed to sound like.

Claire Boucher’s followup to 2012’s breakthrough Grimes album Visions is wildly different. Art Angels is the result of three years of growth, touring, a decision to scrap a previous album and an hardening of artistic resolve. Grimes’ has often talked about her love of pop music and on Art Angels she’s made her own version of it with sugar-rushing rhythms, bubble-pop melodies and bright instrumentation. The album feels like it has its own internal logic and palette and inherent in its DNA, is Grimes’ own split personalities, adept at pairing up for a screaming match with Korean rapper Aristophanes on ‘Scream’, delivering clattering guitar pop on ‘Flesh Without Blood’, roping in Janelle Monae for a EDM-style banger and my personal favourite ‘World Princess Part II’, an electro pop crescendo. Boucher continues to write her own story.

Listen on Spotify

13.

 Le Galaxie

Le Club

Le Galaxie

The Dublin electro band have made an album of joyous bangers.

For their second full-length, Le Galaxie enlisted the help of producer Erik Brouchek to solidify what most Irish music-loving people know from seeing the band live, that Le Galaxie are the best band for delivering gigantic song-led bangers built on dance music dynamism with live instruments.

Le Club feels like a victory lap, the band’s retro neon-electro having found new sinewy rhythms and strident sounds. Songs like ‘Put The Chain On’, ‘Streetheart’, ‘Le Club’, ‘Lucy Is Here’ and “Carmen’ already feel like modern Irish classics, the soundtrack to many a great festival night and gig. The new version of the Le Galaxie essential, the uplifting ‘Love System’ adds a sax-solo for extra celebration. A trip to Le Club is always fun.

Listen on Spotify

12.

Empress Of

Me

Empress Of

Lorely Rodriguez’s personal yet brisk electronic pop debut.

With the graduation to a self-produced debut album, Lorely Rodriguez also makes the leap from pleasing hazy synth pop to a gilded form of dance pop. Rodriguez’s lyrics address what it’s like to be a young woman in 2015.

Rarely does a personal album brim with so much danceable briskness. Me makes use of of pleasing discombobulating rhythmic pop sequences, buzzing synths, bouncing bass, drum machine stabs and an clearly elevated confidence. No longer covered in gauze, Empress Of’s talent is greater than was initially suggested.

Listen on Spotify

11.

Empress Of

The Dublin band have made the highly-strung album of the year.

There weren’t more uncompromising sonic albums made in 2015 than this one and while it took its toll on its creators, their efforts have not gone unappreciated.

Holding Hands With Jamie is a bare psychosis, the breakdown of Dara Kiely soundtracked by dissonant, piercing and pulsing noise. Kiely spends howling into the pressurised turbulent wall of noise, fending off life expectations and minutiae.

The band match his intensity spectacularly with guitars that whirr and buzz like nasty synthesizers, drums that engulf the room in a live fashion and low-end that wipes the floor and shits on it afterward for good measure. The harshness of it all is a suitably foil for the discombobulating frame of mind that Kiely displays throughout. It sounds like post-punk, it sounds like garage-rock, it sounds like no-wave, it sounds like dirty bleedin’ techno.

The coiled wrestle between confrontation and escapism, both in the music and in the lyrics, is what makes Holding Hands With Jamie such an uncomfortable yet singularly brilliant album. That it uses the familiar language of rock music to do so makes it one of the albums of the year.

Listen on Spotify

Albums #10 – 1

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  • Posted on December 18th, 2015

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    Cian Ó Cíobháin is the presenter of An Taobh Tuathail five nights a week on Radio Na Gaeltachta, he’s a DJ for 110th Street in Galway and for hire as a wedding DJ too (read my recent interview with him). He’s an excellent selector. Here are his top 10 tracks of 2015 as part of the Best of 2015 series.



    1. Sufjan Stevens – ‘Fourth Of July’

    It’s been years since I’ve heard a song as beautiful and as heartbreaking as ‘Fourth Of July’, a song which narrates one of Sufjan’s final conversations with his mother on her deathbed. The first time I heard it, the tears instantly began to flow. I can’t think of another song in recent memory that had such a profound emotional effect on me. Turns out, I wasn’t alone. A quick glance through the comments section of the song on YouTube reveals that the song has struck a powerful chord with countless other people around the world, with listeners reporting that they found themselves bursting into tears upon hearing it in public places such as on buses and trains, at work and in coffee shops. It was the final song that I licensed for ‘An Taobh Tuathail Vol 7’ and only then was that jigsaw complete.


    2. Dean Blunt – ‘On Wine, Hashish & Molly’

    If someone told me that a track based on deadpan narration by a vocodered voice about the ups and downs of a night on the tiles would be up there with one of my favourite tracks of the year, especially a track that plays out over 23 entire minutes, I would’ve replied ‘not likely’. But the fact that it is, well, this can only be a a testament to the genius of Dean Blunt, whose back catalogue I’ve long admired since his Hype Williams days. The track is a fairly unorthodox cover version (OK, let’s call it what it really is: a complete and radical re-write), of a track entitled ‘Julia’ by Archangel, which was originally featured on his LP ‘The Bedroom Slant’ last year on the always brilliant Foom Music label.


    3. Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment – ‘Miracle’

    This is an epic track, full of unexpected swerves and irrepressible positivity. The intro comes on like Brian Wilson (no surprises, the album is called ‘Surf’) conducting the string section off some euphoric, long-lost Philly classic before the warm glow of the first vocal emerges and, eventually, the smooth and joyous rap. There’s quite the cast involved in the song and I’m not exactly sure who does what, but the main men are 21-year old Nico Segal (AKA Donnie Trumpet) and Chance The Rapper.


    4. Moon Ate The Dark – ‘Sleepy Vipers’

    There is so much to recommend on the latest LP from pianist/violinist Anna Rose Carter and producer Christopher Brett Bailey, ‘Moon Ate The Dark II’, but this is the undeniable highlight. The slightly eerie intro is deliciously misleading as it gives no indication to the heart-wrenching cello that first emerges around the 3 minute mark, performed by Carys Davies – easily one of the most beautiful, yet mournful sounds I heard in 2015 – that gently ebbs and flows to the tune’s climax.


    5. Kendrick Lamar – ‘King Kunta’

    ‘I gotta bone to pick’. I can’t think of a single other track released in 2015 that featured as much of “The Funk” as this instant classic from the trailblazing talent that is Kendrick Lamar. I love everything about it: the bassline, the lyrics, the devastatingly confident yet nonchalant, tight delivery, not to mention those outrageously infectious backing vocals. Altogether now: ‘What’s the yams?’


    6. Kolomon Trax – ‘Trig Mix’

    In a field in Co. Longford last summer, as dawn broke on a beautiful Saturday morning, my friend Phil Watson confided in me that he was setting up a new record label – Cavalier Records – with his good mate Tom Breslin. I knew straightaway that anything he would release would undoubtedly mirror the essence of the man himself: stylish, classy and intelligent, but with more than a fair dose of devilment. Phil and Tom spent months traipsing through Soundcloud links, looking to unearth unreleased jewels, until they happened upon Kolomon Trax, a producer from Frankfurt. Now, while I fully expected that their first release would bowl me over for all the previously mentioned reasons, I wasn’t seriously expecting them to release one of the tunes of the year… and at their very first attempt! The moment I heard ‘Trig Mix’, I felt like I knew it all my life. It has the deep sensuality of a record like ‘Can You Feel It’ by Mr Fingers, while managing a trick that only very few records ever pull off: which is of sounding of its time, yet also somehow sounding utterly timeless. I can picture the delight on some crate-picker’s face when (s)he comes across this in some other far-flung corner of the universe in a few centuries time. This is a tune that will transcend eras.


    7. Ekoplekz – ‘A Caustic Romance’

    Bristol producer Nick Edwards AKA Ekoplekz is a particularly talented maker of music. I’ve been quite fond of his work up to now, but this track – which kicks off his latest LP Reflekzionz – is probably the most moving track I’ve heard from him to date, a track which I played to death on the show this year. The shuffling drums and the poignant riff on the piano puts me in mind of some of Aphex Twin’s classic works and there are indeed shades of German dreamers such as Popol Vuh and Cluster about the track. Yes… it really is that good.


    8. Prequel Tapes – ‘Inner Systems’

    This is music to be appreciated on a good set of headphones, a track to soundtrack your dreams. The producer grew up listening to bands like The Cure, whose melodies beguiled him and would linger in his mind and haunt him for days on end. In his youth, he purchased some basic equipment, a Casio sampler and a drum machine and poured himself into his music. Later, through Clock DVA, The KLF and Future Sound Of London, he became fascinated with techno. More recently, he found old DAT recordings and VHS footage of his youthful recordings which – rather than treating as nostalgic artefacts – he instead reclaimed those previously lost sounds and made the music he always wanted to make, in his own words, creating “teenage recordings orchestrated into densely layered tapestries”. Even without any knowledge of the genesis of tunes such as this, there is no denying the feeling of ecstasy that it evokes.


    9. ‘Midaircondo – Veins’

    Lisa Nordström and Lisen Rylander Löve are Swedish-duo Midaircondo, who released their fourth LP, simply called IV, on Twin Seed last January. With an interest in avant-garde sound art, oddball electronica and melancholic pop, all their influences reach their zenith on this, the stand-out cut from the album and one of the most-played tracks on the show this year.


    10. Four Tet – Morning Side

    Kieran Hebden AKA Four Tet is the gift that keeps on giving. Rarely a year goes by without him contributing some vital record to the musical cannon (also, from this year, check out his remix of ‘Leave A Trace’ by Chvrches). The vocal sampled is from legendary Indian playback singer Lata Mangeskar’s ’Main Teri Choti Behana Hoon’, as featured in the 1983 Hindi movie ‘Souten’ (make sure to check out the original too: a gorgeous record). From such unlikely origins, we hear one of 2015’s most transcendental records, a record that takes up the entire of Side 1 of his Morning/Evening album and a record that will forever evoke the summer of 2015 in my memories.

    Posted on December 10th, 2015

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    Awesome. Sufjan Stevens just announced two shows in Dublin’s The Helix as part of his European tour.

    His new album, a recent album of the week, Carrie & Lowell is a personal and difficult album about grief and estrangement wrapped up in beauty.

    The dates are Friday August 28 and Saturday August 29th in the Helix with support from Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear.

    Tickets are €40.05+ fee on sale this Thursday 23rd April at 9am from Ticketmaster outlets as well as TM outlets and The Helix website and box office on 01 700 7000.

    Posted on April 20th, 2015

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    The Sufjan Stevens that affected me the most was the one that revelled in the quiet, who kept things simple. Illinoise and The Age Of Adz are great records, sonically rich and ambitious. His stature grew, literally onstage with wings on a recent tour, where layers of sound were built up in impressive displays of song arrangements.

    For his seventh album Carrie & Lowell, Stevens has put the wings back in the cupboard and returned to his folk roots. He’s also traded in the conceptual grandiosity for the devastatingly personal.

    If there’s one thing you need to know about Sufjan and this album is that it is concerned with his absent mother Carrie (and by extension, his stepfather Lowell), who left his family in Michigan when he was a one year old and moved to Oregon. Carrie died in 2012 of stomach cancer and this visceral album is Sufjan addressing the monumental loss of his mother’s life and of her in his life.

    Stevens spent a few summers with his mother as a child, who was troubled by depression and schizophrenia. Much of the album is drawn with that little amount of time he spent with Carrie. Interestingly, Lowell, his stepfather, stayed in touch after he divorced Carrie and went on to release music on Stevens’ label Asthmatic Kitty and is a director of the company. Losing a mother is unbearable but a mother estranged from her son has a profound effect.

    The music is sparse, evocative, stripped-bare. Stevens’ doesn’t embellish much musically but he doesn’t compound the hurt and pain in his words with more aural clues. It’s actually a beautiful-sounding album on the surface. Seven Swans, his 2004 acoustic album inspired by Bible songs is the closest comparison. It is an album of grief (On that subject do read Niall Crumlish’s far superior review of this album for State.)

    There are questions that go unanswered – “what could I have said to raise you from the dead?”. In both the album’s opening track ‘Death With Dignity’ and ‘Eugene’ Stevens longs to be near his mother. He sings of “this empty feeling” on ‘Should Have Known Better’ and asks “I wonder did you love me at all?” on ‘The Only Thing’. There is searing hurt. “Should I tear my eyes out now? Everything I see returns to you somehow,” he sings on the same track.

    His mother, “Erebus on my back” gives an imagined reply on ‘Fourth Of July’ – “did you get enough love, my little dove?” There is much rumination of Stevens himself as a person in the reflection of Carrie through his relationships on ‘John My Beloved’ and ‘Drawn To The Blood’. “What’s left is only bittersweet / for the rest of my life, admitting the best is behind me,” he sings on ‘Eugene’.

    There is no answer to grief or estrangement. There can be acceptance, reconciliation, mourning and forgiveness. “I forgive you mother I can hear you,” Stevens sings but there’s much pain to get through. Carrie & Lowell offers catharsis for Stevens and consolation for others in his difficult exploration.

    Buy from Tower | iTunes

    Posted on March 27th, 2015

    Artists:

    Last night, a select Dublin audience got a full headphones listen to Sufjan’s new album Carrie & Lowell (March 27th), an album that addresses his mother’s death and which pats down his sonics to the folk-style of his earlier work.

    ‘Should Have Known Better’ stays true to that contemplative style as heard on ‘No Shade In The Shadow Of The Cross’ . The song is about his mother who left the family when he was 1, remained distant and dealing with that as through your life. This Pitchfork interview gives more background to the album.

    Pre-order the album from Tower on vinyl.

    Posted on March 11th, 2015

    Artists:

    Next Tuesday, Sufjan Stevens fans will get a unique opportunity to hear the musicians new album Carrie And Lowell over two weeks before its released.

    The Dublin listening party hit capacity in the first few days but I have THE LAST two wristbands for the event in Douglas Hyde Gallery, where 100 people will gather to hear the album through wireless headphones in a communal space from 6:30pm on Tuesday March 10th. Douglas Hyde Gallery was the scene of Sufjan’s first gig in Ireland.

    Winner gets

    Carrie & Lowell LP pre-ordered for them from Tower Records. Collect on release day 27 March.
    – 2 wristbands to listening party on March 10th 6.30pm at Douglas Hyde Gallery (collected from Tower on 10 March before party)

    Win tickets via Gleam:
    Two wristbands to Sufjan's listening party

    Posted on March 3rd, 2015

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