Sufjan Stevens has not released a new album since 2015’s heartbreaking, sparse Carrie & Lowell. This isn’t to suggest he hasn’t been busy though. For throughout much of last year, he remained in our ears with various projects and singles. Most notably, perhaps, was his “mixtape” album The Greatest Gift, which compiled b-sides, remixes, and alternate versions of tracks from Carrie & Lowell. Although it was light on substantive material, it remained a pretty good release. But what if I told you he had another outtakes album from earlier in his career? And what if I told you it plays more like an album than anything else? And what if I told you it was finally coming to vinyl? Well, all that’s true, as you already know by this point in this article.
Back in 2006, Sufjan Stevens followed up his massively popular and acclaimed album Illinois with a full album of outtakes from those recording sessions. It was titled The Avalanche, which comes from a song of the same name that appeared as a bonus track on vinyl and iTunes releases of Illinois. The Avalanche is very much a continuation of Illinois rather than a bunch of unfitted demos or b-sides. Reportedly, Illinois was supposed to be a double album, but it got shortened (shortened meaning cut down to its 73 minute running time). The Avalanche actually exceeds that length, and is comprised of various tracks Sufjan went back to to finish off after Illinois was such a success. It’s a strikingly good album, worthy of more recognition than it gets. And now it’s getting the vinyl treatment it deserves.
On August 31 a full release of The Avalanche is coming to vinyl for the first time ever. It’s being pressed onto 2 LPs, one orange and one white. As of this writing, Sufjan’s label Asthmatic Kitty Records has not officially announced the record. But it is already up on popular record store chain Bullmoose’s website for pre-order. Head right here to order it now.
If you’ve never heard The Avalanche before, you should really fix that. It’s a beautiful companion piece to one of the best albums of the past 20 years or so. Stream it here.