By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
Did you know there's an unwritten law that writers must deliver news of music guaranteed to be good for a white upper-middle-class audience's emotional health and intellect? It's true. How else to explain even a slight tolerance for college-age types who play rotten jug-band music?
It's supposed to be good for you, see: Not vulgar, it harkens to an easier time, granting those who grow up in urban-slum America the sensibilities of rural folk. Rebelling against the mechanization of rap, metal, and teen pop, it's like vitamins for the heart or supplemental fiber for the diet of the yearning mind. Doesn't matter if it's unlistenable or feeble; it just has to fit this bill on paper. Anyone who can play acoustic instruments while upholding the sham that it's a reflection of woodsy America can apply for the gig.
This being the case, any fan of it would enjoy Brother Danielson. On Brother: Son, Sufjan Stevens is in the house: a consumer's cue for boredom but certified quality. Tinny voices sing about hungry souls needing to be fed, sisters and brothers, and how work with the hands is honest and freeing. The first few minutes sound like very early David Bowie without Mick Ronson, electricity, or songs. The rest is so annoying that after 15 minutes you'll fondly remember grade-school sing-alongs and eating paste during arts-and-crafts.