The Avalanche: Outtakes and Extras from the Illinois Album

The Avalanche: Outtakes and Extras from the Illinois Album

by Sufjan Stevens


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Sufjan Stevens' Come on Feel the Illinoise was a long, gorgeous, and occasionally convoluted kaleidoscope of folk, pop, and orchestral rock fused with personal regional history that somehow managed to lure listeners of all ages and genre allegiances into its pompon-wielding arms. Like Illinois, The Avalanche -- leave it to Stevens to release a 21-track collection of outtakes and extras from a record that boasted 22 -- is stuffed with a surplus of unnecessary and pretentiously titled instrumental Band-Aids like "Vivian Girls Are Visited in the Night by Saint Dargarius and His Squadron of Benelovent Butterflies," "The Mistress Witch from McClure (Or, the Mind That Knows Itself)," and "The Palm Sunday Tornado Hits Crystal Lake" that would serve more purpose on an early-'70s Yes album than they do here, but they're augmented by some truly noteworthy songs that prove Stevens' prolificacy is as much a byproduct of his obvious gifts as a writer as it is by his need to record every idea that pops into his head. Opening with the title cut, a loose, banjo-driven ballad that develops into a pulsing day drive from the East Coast to the Midwest (The Avalanche is named for a car, not the terrifying mass of ice, snow, earth, and rock that swallows numerous skiers each year), Stevens constructed an alternate version of Illinois that is almost as good as the original. Shades of Stereolab pepper both the manic "Dear Mr. Supercomputer" and the nostalgic "Adlai Stevenson," while the elegiac "No Man's Land" echoes the sense of discovery that fueled Illinois' "Chicago," the latter of which appears three times in various disguises throughout the record. The Avalanche slows down considerably near the record's end, but so did Illinois, making an even better case for the "Super Director's Cut" that would fuse both albums into one mammoth slice of esoteric Americana pie.

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The Avalanche: Outtakes and Extras from the Illinois Album 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Avalanche is a good CD, that contains great lyrics and instruments. This CD is not my favorite of Sufjan's works but is still very good. It is more rock than folk displayed in the CD Michigan. I recommend this CD to anyone who likes Sufjan Stevens and to anyone who likes good music.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Just because the title says "Outtakes and Extras" no one should expect this to be of lesser quality than Illinoise. Admittedly, those who enjoy the more folky Sufjan may not enjoy this album as much, but fans of Bright Eyes's "Digital Ash" or the Postal Service will enjoy some of the technopop influences. But that is not to say that the familiar banjos and meandering melodies are not present. A must for and Sufjan fan.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago