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The Avalanche by Sufjan Stevens
Released: Jul 2006
Label: Asthmatic Kitty
Leave it to Sufjan to release a lush, expansive, 21-track collection of leftovers from his lush, expansive, 22-track Illinois. Like everything associated with Sufjan (even his name), this album is an exquisite juxtaposition of the so-familiar-it's-almost-cliche and the fascinatingly quirky. That trademark Midwest aesthetic -- band-room-plus-banjo instrumentation and a folksy esotericism -- is omnipresent, even as Avalanche takes off in some pretty distinctive directions (see the minimalist "Kaskaskia River"). Also included are four new versions of "Chicago," each more compelling than the last.
Rachel Devitt

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