A month or so ago I wrote a retrospective on Sufjan Stevens’ album Michigan for Tone Deaf. It’s one of my favourite albums of all-time, and it was a rewarding and interesting experience to write an article about it, and investigate its origins further.
Last year I completed a four month long internship with the music website, Tone Deaf. It was a rewarding way to apply many of the things I’ve learned so far at uni in a practical sense, such as in interviews, reviews, and news-writing, and I’ve been able to continue this through being a writer and columnist for Tone Deaf. I was able to meet a lot of wonderful people and it really helped me to realise that writing, in some shape or form, is what I want to do for a profession.
One of the things that I love most about Sufjan’s music is the extensive backstories and historical facts that he includes in them. While you don’t need to know these to appreciate his wonderful music, they help to add layers to the songs, and I found this across Michigan. The songs are all based on Sufjan’s own experiences and upbringing in Michigan, as well as the state’s history.
On ‘Flint’, he details the problems of unemployment and homelessness that has pervaded the city, and his vulnerable and faltering vocals are just brilliant. Every song is meaningful and emotional, and the album as a whole is addictive and serene.
While many see Illinois as Sufjan’s best piece of work, it’s hard for me to go past Michigan. It’s just so intimate, emotional, and delicately crafted, and I always find something new on each repeated listen (which happens a lot).
Over the last week I was lucky enough to review a handful of Splendour In The Grass sideshows for Tone Deaf. The only thing that nearly compares to attending the festival is going to as many of the sideshows as possible, and this has become an annual tradition for me, as the cost associated with Splendour are far out of my uni student price range.
The next night was one of my favourites at the moment, kiwi/AmericansUnknown Mortal Orchestra, along with stoner-rockersWavves. UMO were just incredible live, playing material mostly from one of my favourite albums of the year, II. The talented trio extended and teased out every song, taking every opportunity to provide an elongated jam. I also found Wavves surprisingly enjoyable. Being not all that big a fan of the band’s recorded material, I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but they were very entertaining.
After a much enjoyed night off, on Monday I was at The Hi-Fi forMS MR. Although quite liking their debut album, I found them slightly underwhelming in a live setting. Lizzy Plapinger’s vocals were undoubtedly brilliant, but the set sounded similar throughout, and the band’s awkward stage presence didn’t do much to help.
My final Splendour sideshow was Darwin Deez back at The Corner on Wednesday, and it was an absurd, ridiculous, and thoroughly entertaining way to finish the run of shows. The band obviously don’t take their music too seriously, and their live act is just fun and enthusiastic, including many choreographed dance routines interspersed in the set.
I’m already excited for next year’s Splendour In The Grass, perhaps more so for the sideshows rather than the actual festival.