State of Music Playlist Series, Vol. I: Sufjan Stevens, Magnetic Fields, The Uglysuit, STLYBY, The Rosebuds & More

Following a string of brilliant thematic album releases, numerous outtakes, singles, demos, collaborations and the four LP Songs for Christmas boxset – arguably the best indie-alternative Christmas song collection ever – it seemed Sufjan Stevens was unstoppable.

But over the past couple of years, there hasn’t been really any new, original material from Sufjan. This is disappointing because he had suggested that he was going to attempt to write and record an album about as many states as possible. (Update, Nov 2009: Sufjan Stevens goes on record to say his idea of doing a “50 States” album release was a “joke”; therefore we will continue the State of Music playlist series indefinitely. Not only is there a great interest in this series from music lovers, but there is so much fantastic music about the states, their cities, characters, histories, cultures, landmarks and so on).

A big part of the believability factor, and the anticipation, was that Sufjan had already recorded two brilliant albums that were, in concept, full of songs relishing in the character of two states, on 2003’s Greetings From Michigan and 2005’s Come On Feel The Illinoise!

With songs like “Pittsfield” (Michigan; not the other Pittsfield, where I grew up), “Chicago”, “Decatur”, “Jacksonville”, “The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts”, “The Seer’s Tower”, “Flint”, “Say Yes! to M!ch!gan!”, it looked like Sufjan was serious by his unique and exciting question. At the time it was questionable – can this guy really write 48 additional albums, each about a different state?

It appears it might not happen. If any indie artists and bands are reading this, think about it. Even if Sufjan is not going to pursue the path he set down, I really hope other indie and alt artists will, while preserving the story-telling quality and superb musicianship that are found on Illinoise and Michigan LPs.

In all fairness to Sufjan, he has been busy with other music projects, running a record company, babies and what have you, so it’s not that easy. I think it’s brilliant, and who doesn’t love songs about their state; you know, like peaches in Georgia, lighthouses in Maine, the Alamo in Texas, great weather and surfing in California, bison in Wyoming, the cowboy life of Montana and so on.

Therefore, I decided to start a playlist series about each state in the country featuring songs from a whole range of artists and bands, from indie to alternative and folk to pop and spanning the history of music, starting with the 1950’s right up to today.

To get our toes wet, so to speak, for what will be an ongoing playlist series all about the states of this vast country, I decided an introductory playlist that is not specific to one state, but all of the states, and to give you an idea of what the state-by-state playlists will be like as they are published throughout 2009, 2010 and onward. I’ll be publishing more of these playlists in 2010 as I am still working on creating them and focusing on only the best songs.

Most of all I just hope you will enjoy this new playlist series and give some well deserved attention to bands, artists, songs and albums that are worthy.

“Decatur” Sufjan Stevens from Come On Feel The Illinoise

“Washington DC” Magnetic Fields from 69 Love Songs (1999)

“Chicago” The Uglysuit from The Uglysuit

“Fasting in San Francisco”Y La Bamba from GypsyPop (2009)

“We Can Win Missouri!”Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin from Grace & Gwyn EP (2008)

“Revelation Big Sur”Red House Painters from Songs For a Blue (2000)

“Cape Fear” The Rosebuds from Life Like (2008)

“So Long Savannah” Eric Bachmann from To The Races (2006)

“Hard Times in America”Willie Nile from Live From The Streets of New York (2008)

Access the second installment of State of Music playlist mix featuring The Low Anthem, Essex Green, The A Side, Sufjan Stevens and Tapes N Tapes.

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