A blog devoted to the works of Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields, The 6ths, Future Bible Heroes, The Gothic Archies, et al. This blog will feature news related to his work, as well as occasional fanboy gushes from the author. Thank you for stopping by, and may all your dreams come true.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


Mr. Merritt will be appearing on this radio show this Wednesday at 8:05 AM EST, according to this link.  For those who can't stream the live show as it airs, a MP3 will exist.  Thanks to Mr. Alex Anderson for this news.

The Book of Love/Not One of Us single was released on iTunes today, and is definitely worth the $1.99, as both songs are gorgeous.  The discography has been updated with this information.

The Magnetic Fields' tour starts this coming Thursday, people!!  How crazy is that shit?  Too excited.

Friday, January 29, 2010


Filter Magazine has posted a continuation of their interview with Mr. Merritt from yesterday.  I love the answer to the last "question," in particular and sympathize with Mr. Merritt's qualms wholeheartedly.

Pitchfork posted something about Mr. Merritt doing the score for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and subsequently all sorts of news sources started reporting it.  Of course, readers of this blog will have been content with the knowledge of this information for about a month's time now.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Stephin Merritt's version of Peter Gabriel's "Not One of Us" is featured on a sneak preview on Peter Gabriel's website.  It also features a little intro by Mr. Merritt, talking about how he first heard the song, gay marriage, and some other things.  Check it out, it's totes worth it.

The song will be released alongside Mr. Gabriel's cover of "The Book of Love" on iTunes January 30.  Buy it.


There are a ton of new reviews, of course, but, as I said, I think I'm done posting those until someone begs me to do otherwise.  Until then:

Exclaim has a quasi-interview with Mr. Merritt wherein he discusses the synths that will be on the next Magnetic Fields record and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, both of which are awesome things for him to be discussing right now.

CBC has an interview with Mr. Merritt as well, featuring him claiming for the umpteenth time that he wants to stop singing and write songs for k.d. lang.  Wouldn't she just be a dreamy 6ths vocalist?  Perhaps one day...

Filter Magazine has an interview as well, featuring perhaps Mr. Merritt's best monosyllabic response to a question ever.  And, there's other interesting stuff about the no-synths trilogy.

Then there's another interview with Mr. Merritt over at DC Metro Weekly, featuring at least one question submitted by yours truly, which is cool enough to warrant printing it out, I think.  That is not the only factor contributing to it being a generally kickass interview, though, I promise.  Thanks to Nick for bringing the latter to my attention.  Also, what does Mr. Merritt mean by "pianette?"  Will someone explain?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Not a lot happening today, but there are a fuck-ton of reviews.  I think this is going to be the last batch I post unless someone requests otherwise (and, seriously, I'm 98% sure I'm the only one reading all of these), so gobble 'em up while you still can!

Monsters Under the Bed, a cool blog in its own right, loves the record.  Death & Taxes disagrees and doesn't see the album's folky leanings.  Indie Wiretap can dig it, but appears to have only heard Distortion before this one, or something.  Nothing Not New hates the record, it seems, but kinda loves The Magnetic Fields, which is cool, I guess.  Slowdive and Consequence of Sound both think it's pretty okay.  Spin Magazine gives it 4/5 stars.  And, then there's that Pitchfork review, which, like so much of their work, is written by a talented person who completely doesn't, nor bothers to try to, understand this record.  This isn't bias speaking either, as I'm not offended by its insipid 6.0 rating (the whole concept of a grading scale is kinda iffy to me), it's just that the review is a frustrating example of poor journalism.

The beautiful Stephinsongs graciously linked to this meager little blog yesterday, for which I'd like to extend an open thanks.  When I first got into this music so long ago, Stephinsongs was a valuable resource to me and it's a privilege and an honor to be recognized by it.  Also, it's run by a generally nice fella, so that's cool too.

Realism and its iTunes bonus track (!!) are still playing here in Williamson Hollow.  I hope all is well for you, dearest readers, and that you're loving the record as much as I.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Realism is available for purchase today, which kinda makes you an idiot for reading this.  GO BUY IT!  IT'S BEAUTIFUL!

The last installment in the conversation between Claudia and Stephin was posted by Nonesuch today and it's entitled Defining Realism.  In it, Stephin and Claudia discuss why the record is named as it is and the differences between orch-folk and orc-folk.

The National Post posted this lovely interview with Mr. Merritt, wherein he admits that "Walk a Lonely Road" is another vampire song!  How fun, especially considering I hadn't guessed that beforehand.

Exclaim has posted this mini-biography of Mr. Merritt's life and works.  While there are some discrepancies, it is mostly accurate and a nice summary of information otherwise scattered throughout the internet.

And, while I know you all don't want any more reviews now that the author has published the epitomal answer to one, I'd be a poor author if I did anything other than post about 65 right here, right now.  So, here: The Record Reviewer digs the fuck out of it, while Dusted Magazine, a publication I usually trust, kinda hates it a little bit.   The A.V. Club, in a right turn of awesomeness, give the album an A-, with reader reviews equalling the same score!  NPR reviews it but scurries away from stating an opinion, which is kind of annoying, but they might discuss it on-air later or something.  The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times do not have entirely dissimilar opinions.  Autostraddle thinks it's alright and discusses the queer appeal of The Magnetic Fields.

I'm expecting this site to be even more frequently-updated now that the record is out.  The tour will be starting soon which means there will be all kinds of interviews with local media sources, plus We Are Having a Hootenanny will kick into full gear.  So, keep an eye open, and listen to Realism until the CD falls apart.  It's so good.

Monday, January 25, 2010


I received my copy of Realism from Insound today.  I wasn't planning on listening 'til tomorrow, but how can I turn it down when it is IN MY HANDS?

So, I didn't.  And, now I'll gush.

As a whole, Realism is indicative of little other than Mr. Merritt's entire career taken as a whole.  While this gauntlet seems daunting to say the least, Realism remains wholly cohesive and brilliant throughout, thoroughly expounding upon the record's theme all the way through.  Musically and thematically, though, the record is completely reminiscent of work Mr. Merritt has produced throughout his career.

As overt analyses on the sincerity of genre, both Distortion and Realism thrive on stereotype.  Realism is rooted in the miry world of folk music, though approaches its function with its tongue firmly rooted in its cheek; the songs abuse the stereotypes that build up their preconceived genre role and work against them simultaneously.  Folk music is often supposed as sincere, and these songs are out-and-out making a mockery of that claim, but remain wholly uncondescending and oftentimes can make you laugh or cry as if they were being completely sincere.  Of course, this is what Mr. Merritt has been selling his whole career, and those accustomed to his work will find no thematic surprises on the album.  Functionality, though, is important here; one must assume that the concepts of Distortion and Realism were born in this post-i world, when people were calling that particular record autobiographical simply based on its title.  Mundane a criticism if ever there was one, Mr. Merritt has oft been found harping against the use of sincerity in music since.  I mean, this is the man who wrote 69 Love Songs - how on earth could one possibly assume he's telling us the truth?

But, of course, this is all secondary to what makes Realism so special: the music.  Quite simply, The Magnetic Fields deliver as ever they have.  Within thirty seconds of hearing "You Must Be Out of Your Mind," I was in tears.  Absolute tears.  While the record at times recalls his work on Orphan of Zhao ("Painted Flower"), The Tragic Treasury ("Everything is One Big Christmas Tree"), The Wayward Bus (the twenty-year-old "The Dada Polka"), and several others, the record never lets the experienced listener feel as if they are retreading all-too-familiar ground, and remains wholly fresh throughout.  If anything, these reminders of previous work only prove the album's diversity.  Despite its folky labeling, the record hops from sub-genre to sub-genre in its nigh thirty-minute-long runtime, feeling at times cataclysmic, heart-wrenching, and hilarious.  The sudden switch from "Interlude" to "We Are Having A Hootenanny" feels like a trick that will make this young writer laugh every time.  

In short, there is not anything I could say against this record.  The songs against which others have spoken actually seem to be some of my favorites.  Its production work is the best of Mr. Merritt's career, ousting Hyacinths & Thistles for this title, if one can choose to believe it.  Anybody who loves The Magnetic Fields or Stephin Merritt (and one can only assume you do if you are reading this) has no reason not to adore this album.  It is reminiscent of former work at times, yes, but also completely new and fresh and fun and magic and wonderful.  Listen to it on headphones and fall in love.  A song-by-song analysis is in order, I do think:

You Must Be Out of Your Mind, as aforementioned, made me cry very soon into its runtime.  The answer to the question of why this is is multilayered and personal, really, but I will touch on it.  Firstly, the production work of this album, as aforementioned, is just beautiful and I was struck by it and caught by surprise by its absolutely phenomenal beauty.  But perhaps more than that, I was reminded that this is Mr. Merritt's music.  His masterful songwriting and production is present the second this track begins.  The vocals are amazing - it sounds like Shirley Simms singing on top of two very sped-up Stephin Merritts, resulting in a vocal track like nothing Mr. Merritt has made before.  Not to mention, the line about appendectomies, which might be amongst the cleverest lyric Merritt has ever penned.

Sandwiched between two songs on entirely different spectrums than itself, Interlude is a science-fictiony ballroom waltz sort of song.  I love it a lot.  The instrumentation is more sparse than most songs on the album, but is still really beautiful, perfectly complementing Ms. Simms's absolutely gorgeous vocal delivery.  

Then, comes the sonic fun of We Are Having a Hootenanny, bound to be the album's most-discussed track, methinks.  Yes, the lyrics are jaunty and fun, but are you people listening to this on headphones?  It's beautiful!  Ms. Pearle's epic violin solo at the end is a nice period to a song so otherwise full of laughs.  Mr. Handler, as well, is of particular notice here, his accordion track being at its most memorable since "Zebra," perhaps.  In fact, its worth noting the individual instrumentation of the entire album.  While so much of Mr. Merritt's previous work is based on a synthetic Wall of Sound, a la Phil Spector, Realism, like no other Magnetic Fields album before it, feels more instrumentally compartmentalized (which sounds like a strange way to phrase it, but is entirely a good thing).  Each track features at least a pretty varied pair of (and usually many more) instruments and each track utilizes them in the best possible way, allowing each one to add its own layer to the song.

I Don't Know What To Say's abrupt ending denotes several dreary images akin to the song's theme that only intensify the agony lurking behind it.  This could well be the saddest song on the record.  While never sincere, Mr. Merritt does have an uncanny ability to put himself in the mindset of any situation, and this song functions as a heartbreaking dissertation on what it means to give up on someone.  I want to cite lyrics, but I am resisting doing so for those more patient/less fortunate than I.  Just know that you'll bawl your eyes out.

Why do so many people dislike The Dolls' Tea Party?  The instrument that sounds like a toy piano plinks along with Claudia's vocal so eloquently that I really can't imagine someone hating this song.  While one could say the lyrics are inane, this seems like the type of argument only a dotterel would make; in my mind, the dolls aren't so different from the "California Girls" from Distortion.  Seeing them from an admirer's point-of-view is a wholly rewarding experience for me.  Also: I appreciate Ms. Gonson's diction very much, as there have been those who have made fun of how I enunciate my T's in the past.  Ms. Gonson makes me slightly less insecure about it, at the very least.  

Sam Davol has always had little to prove, to be sure, but whatever he may have had is completely vanished after hearing Everything is One Big Christmas Tree.  His cello drives the song and adds a sense of immediacy whose existence changes the whole tone of the song.  The line about a fortune would not sound quite as vitriolic without it.  The jaunty German chorus still throws me for a loop, even after receiving a translation from a member of the Stephinsongs mailing list, but I love it no less for it.  Part of the fun of Mr. Merritt's music is listening to them for years and then one day, out of the blue, finding something in a song you never knew was there.  In fact, that might be my favorite part about getting a new Magnetic Fields record: the expectation of this long-lasting relationship with it.

My initial thoughts about Walk A Lonely Road were that it reminds me a lot of the Flare song "Too Old to Die Young."  I now realize that just because it is a duet featuring Shirley Simms does not mean much, and the the songs, while both incredible, are wholly dissimilar.  I must note that Mr. Merritt's voice on this track sounds absolutely beautiful.  Being so used to hearing him sing in a more affectless manner (a la the namesake for this blog) allows me room for surprise still when he does put forward a vocal character.  Here, he perfectly captures the sense of isolation and desperation about which the song speaks, and offers an indescribable foil to Ms. Simms's more quaint, innocent-sounding vocal.  And, I would be remiss not to mention Ms. Gonson once more, whose percussion shines here more than on any other track of the record.  This one made me cry as well.

Ms. Simms continue to astound on Always Already Gone, whose production work awes and astounds.  I assume Mr. Merritt is responsible for the autoharp as no other is credited with playing it, and this, along with Ms. Simms, is what makes the song.  Its echoy nature counters and captures Ms. Simms's voice and mood in such a way that it brings tears to my eyes.  Perhaps it would be easier to just point out the songs at which I didn't cry, really, but I am serious when I say that this album's production is capable of doing this to someone.

Whomever says that Mr. Merritt has no vocal range (which, really, I think that might just be himself) needs to listen closely to this record.  On Seduced and Abandoned, he proves the absurdity of this claim forthwith, sounding more like a classic folk singer than on any other song on the record.  The song also features a Merritt-centric dichotomy, inasmuch as its tuba-laden instrumentation disconnects itself from the sorrow at hand in its lyric, a "trick" to which any Magnetic Fields fan should be accustomed.  But, as ever, this dichotomy does not harm one's enjoyment of the song, instead allowing you to hear the story from an unexpected angle, letting the absolute sorrow sink in only in its conclusion.  

Better Things, I feel, is the key to the whole album, and I'm hesitant to say more than that.  While I'm not saying it's my favorite, it is perhaps the most important track here in terms of the aforementioned musical/thematical tendencies of Mr. Merritt's work and of Realism itself.

Painted Flower makes such beautiful use of that Enoch Light-esque audio-channel-switching!  Wondrous work, really.  The song functions somewhat as a duel between the cello and the bell-like sounds (about whose source instrument I'm very confused - any help would be much appreciated here), with Ms. Simms's dainty extended metaphor serving as a mediator between the two, allowing neither to overpower the other.  While the song, of course, sounds lovely on speakers, I implore you to listen to it on headphones.  Absolutely fucking revelatory.

The entire concept of The Dada Polka makes me laugh, and serves a reminder to Mr. Merritt's experimental nature.  I had heard about this song long, long ago before Realism was even a thought in my noggin, when Mr. Merritt discussed a song he'd been working on for 20+ years.  Of course, that song is this one.  But, what tickles me so much is the expectations that that statement conjures; when one says that, it is the typical assumption that the song in question is going to be some sort of over-poignant ballad sort of song.  Mr. Merritt, however, delivers a dance song, which is all-too-poignant in and of itself.  The song is too fun, and while it doesn't feel dated at all, one can see this song being sung by Ms. Susan Anway on one of those first two Magnetic Fields record.  Its start-and-stop chorus is epically danceable/singable and reminds me simultaneously of "Beach A-Boop-Boop" and "All You Ever Do Is Walk Away," though for completely different reasons.

From a Sinking Boat is a perfect ending for this record.  It's swarthy and heartbreaking and beautiful and epitomizes a lot of what I love about this record.  The last line makes me shiver and cry, which I think is a perfect farewell for The Magnetic Fields.

In short, I love this record, I love The Magnetic Fields, and I love you all.  Thank you.


Lots of new stuff today.  Firstly, Nonesuch Records has posted the fourth installment of the Claudia/Stephin conversation, entitled In the Reverb Chamber, wherein the pair discusses the musical qualities of bathroom, and some very adorable onomatopoeia.

Then, of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the Realism album release party taking place tonight at Beauty Bar in New York.  The party will feature guest DJ Mr. Merritt playing his favorite bubblegum music and promises to be a generally rollicking good time.  I, of course, wish I could attend this hootenanny, but am left to sit at home and read about it on Twitter all night.

Spinner has also posted this brief but pretty cool interview with Mr. Merritt.

And, reviews!  All positive this time.  Ugly Rumors digs the album's overt links to Distortion, but abandons use of a grading scale.  The Metro seems rather neutral all the way through and inanely confuses Ms. Simms with Ms. Gonson.  Express Night Out seems to dig the music a little bit, but finds the record's theme irksome.  Ventvox has nothing but raves about the album.  NOW Magazine gives the record four out of five N's, perfectly cementing my idea that a rating scale is generally not a good idea when reviewing records.  Ever the conformist, PopMatters gives the record 8 out of 10 stars.

The record is out in some parts of the world, and people are listening to it.  I won't have my hands on a copy until tomorrow when it comes out in the US, which is regrettable, but I cannot say how excited I am.  The announcement of this record is what prompted me to finally get off my ass and start this blog, and feeling the enthusiasm of all you readers (and, I've talked to tons of you) has increased my own tenfold.  Realism's release has perhaps been the most exciting, for me, at least, of any of Mr. Merritt's releases since I became an admirer of his.  So, thank you guys for that, and I hope you enjoy the record.  Be aware that the author might die of excitement before tomorrow.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Drowned in Sound has posted this absolutely amazing interview with Mr. Merritt, wherein he discusses several tasty topics.  He blatantly says the next Magnetic Fields record will be almost exclusively synth-produced, discusses the setlist for the upcoming shows,  talks about Antony Hegarty, and further dissects Realism's relationship to folk music.

And, I'd be remiss not to post more reviews of RealismThe London Independent gives it four out of five stars (thanks to Brian Coffey for this news), and Strangeglue gives it 8 out of 10.  Not to mention the first negative review of Realism!!  It's from a website called Snob's Music, though, so I can't help but ingest a giant amount of salt upon reading it.  But, to prove my objectivity, it is here.

Love The Magnetic Fields and haiku but too poor to buy tickets to see them?  Well, then enter this competition curated by Brightest Young Things, you fool!

Friday, January 22, 2010


It is with ire that I post that The Magnetic Fields have posted all of Realism on their Myspace account.  Aging Spinsters, being the sticklers that they (they?) are, are refusing to post a link to it because they are a grumpy young man.  It's strange that this is gramatically correct, but sounds so, so wrong.

Also, Nonesuch Records posted the third part of the conversation between Claudia and Stephin, entitled Sincerity is an Odd Duck, wherein they discuss Stephin's minimal use of sincerity in songwriting.  Familiar territory for him if ever I've heard it, but it is nice to hear the two of them expound upon it.

Also: none of you care, but I just got front row tickets to the second Fields show in Chicago.  Life is good.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Obviously, Nonesuch Records has posted the second part of the Stephin/Claudia conversation, entitled LA: A Folk Heaven.  Watch it, love it.  Two tons of fun.

But, also, and perhaps more excitingly, it's been announced that the aforementioned-on-this-blog documentary directed by Gail O'Hara and Kerthy Fix, Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt and The Magnetic Fields, will be being screened at the SF360Film+Club, according to this website.  There is, unfortunately, no way for me to make it to this screening, but if anyone wants to pay to fly me there, it would be much appreciated.  Seriously, though, for those with the capability of attending, it'd be cool if you let me know in the comments or via e-mail what the film is like.

Also, The Guardian has posted a review of Realism.  It's a positive review, but kind of frustrating as it's about 90% about 69 Love Songs.  But, still, it's nice that only nice things are being said about the record.


House of Tomorrow just announced two extra US tour dates, one in Chicago and one more in New York.  Both will be at the same venues as the previously-announced shows.

This is great news for me, particularly, as it means I'll now be seeing The Magnetic Fields a whopping total of four damn times!!  Whoo!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


In a whirlwind of awesomeness, Nonesuch Records has posted this absolutely incredible conversation between Ms. Claudia Gonson and Mr. Stephin Merritt talking about Realism, its production, and sampling bits of the album.  I, of course, had to mute my Mac when new music was played, but it is otherwise an incredible, incredible little piece.  The plan is to post another segment of the conversation and more music every day until Realism is released (which is so close I can taste it now).  Mr. Merritt is in prime interview form here, too - "I'm an auteur!"  So great.

There is an interview with Mr. Merritt by TheQuietus.com right over here.  Some questions tread familiar territory, but there are some really interesting answers.  The 6ths tidbit is of particular devastating interest, and it is nice to hear Mr. Merritt acknowledge himself as the best songwriter of the 21st century, even if he does take it back a couple of breaths later.

There's also this, but for whatever reason, the audio won't work or play.  Just a broken link.  Hopefully Drowned in Sound will fix this problem some time in the near future.

Drowned in Sound also published this rather strange review of Realism.  It's a fun read, though, and the album gets 8/10 stars or points or whatever the fuck.  Enjoy!

Sunday, January 17, 2010


The official merchers of The Magnetic Fields, Ms. Emma Straub and Mr. Michael Fusco, have just started another blog in the vein of Airplanes. Donuts. Distortion.  Aptly titled as ever, this new tour blog is entitled We Are Having A Hootenanny and currently only features two entries, one of which shows a picture of three of the shirts that will be sold on tour.  There will be a total of five shirts, which means this little blogger will be very, very poor come March.

Also, Mr. Darren Hanlon has announced that he will be opening for The Magnetic Fields on March 11, at their New York show.  Proof of this can be found at the man's Twitter account.  This explains the previous absence of Ms. Laura Barrett's name from the roster, at the very least.  Mr. Hanlon is an accomplished songwriter himself, and has opened for The Magnetic Fields a number of times.  Read this conversation between the two of them from the 2008 European Distortion tour.


The Realism reviews are pouring in, folks!  Here are two mostly well-written and wholly positive reviews here and here.  The fact that no negative review has been posted here is not a sign of bias on my behalf, I swear it, it just so happens that everyone is liking the record.  When the negative reviews start coming in, they'll be posted with as much sincerity in my vitriol.

Also, if any of you know of any professional reviews I'm missing or if you have written a review yourself, please feel free to hit me up in the comments or shoot me an e-mail.

Several websites are reporting that today is Stephin Merritt's birthday.  And, that's great and all, but they're, um...  wrong.  According to Ms. Gail O'Hara, of Chickfactor and Stephin-documentary fame, Mr. Merritt's birthday isn't until February 9th.  Read this for proof.  The year is still a mystery to most of us, but that date seems pretty solid to me.  Someone should really change that Wikipedia page.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


According to this Twitter account, Ms. Laura Barrett, of The Hidden Cameras fame, will be opening for The Magnetic Fields this February and March, and Ms. Barrett has a propensity for multiple exclamation points.  But, let's focus more on the former.

Details are still fuzzy and I'm not sure exactly what shows Ms. Barrett will be playing, but my ears and eyes will be open.  Hopefully, House of Tomorrow will announce this information soon.


According to NME.com, Peter Gabriel will not just be releasing his gorgeous cover of The Magnetic Fields' "Book of Love" on his upcoming album, but swapping songs with the band.  NME says that The Magnetic Fields will be releasing a cover of Gabriel's song "Not One of Us" on iTunes this January 30th, to coincide with the release of Gabriel's already-released cover.

Thanks very much to Nick for this very exciting news.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


I just received this e-mail from Nonesuch Records:

Dear Customer;

We regret to inform you that there is a slight delay in the vinyl release of The Magnetic Fields, "Realism".

We hope to have this item to you by February 2, 2009. 

Nonesuch Online Customer Support


So, since its leak, people have been babbling about Realism left and right.  Awesomely, I've yet to read a negative review (though I expect some naysayers to jump the gun like they did with i and Distortion before this).  Not a lot of professional reviews in quite yet, but a quick Twitter search will show a damn happy public, not to mention the good things being said on the mailing list.  Good news.

Plus, there is this really good, mostly spoiler-free review (some stuff about "From A Sinking Boat" is revealed, but is still left pretty vague, for those few crazies like me who don't want to hear until the 26th).  You can also find previews of the tracks "Seduced and Abandoned" and "You Must Be Out Of Your Mind."  I refuse to listen to any more tracks until the 26th, so I must admit to my general shittiness as a blogger and deny my right to comment on them.  If you're interested, though, and have resisted the leak thus far, the previews are there for you.

All I can say is that my excitement is somehow continually increasing, even after reaching what felt like its maximum potential.  For you leak-users, I hope you're enjoying the album, and I hope you support Mr. Merritt by buying a copy or seeing him on tour.  Love the songs like I plan on loving them, good sirs and madams.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


According to this website, Mr. Merritt appeared today on the CBC radio Program Drive.  They also played the as-yet unreleased song "You Must Be Out of Your Mind" from the forthcoming Realism.  The shitty part about all of this is that this website is sort of impossible to navigate and I have yet to find any way to listen to Mr. Merritt's appearance or the song.  If someone else does, please let me know in a comment or an e-mail or something as I'd love to hear either one.

Also, it might be important to note that we're at the two week mark here, people.  What a world!

And, it might be worth noting that Realism has leaked.  Aging Spinsters does not plan on supporting the leak or listening to the album before January 26, but I'm pretty sure you all are smart enough to know where to go for the damn thing.  Just don't tell me too much about it, I suppose, I'm looking forward to the surprise.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


So, The Magnetic Fields' official poster-makers extraordinaire M+E updated their Facebook account today, making it read as thus:

Just sent art files for Stephin's Coraline cast album to the printer. Buy one from us on tour! http;//www.houseoftomorrow.com.

House of Tomorrow has yet to announce anything about this, so I'm not jumping the gun on this news completely yet, but I will keep an eye out for this potentially very exciting news.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


According to this website, The Magnetic Fields' "Washington, DC" is being used in the latest season of MTV's The Real World, which takes place in the city of the same name. I'm sure many of you, like me, will be quite miffed by this statement, but let's remember that the money for this usage could quite possibly go toward the greater good (meaning hearing the new Future Bible Heroes record before 2011).

Many thanks to Alyssa Schubert for this news, and for several other things as well.

Monday, January 4, 2010


I've taken the liberty of compiling what I believe to be a comprehensive discography of all the works of Mr. Merritt. It should be noted that this was not made without haste and is, at this point, very sloppy. Organizationally speaking, this post will be the subject of much revision, hopefully in the next few days to come. Content-wise, I think it's mostly accurate, though there could be some glaring omissions I've yet to catch. Feel free to and please do point out any inaccuracies upon which you may happen.

A quick note: for the sake of everyone's sanity, I've excluded most compilation albums featuring previously-released tracks (the exception is Survive & Advance, Vol. 1, featuring "Smile! No One Cares How You Feel," which at the time of release, was still a rarity). This means that some charity comps and soundtrack albums are not featured below. If someone has issue with this, by all means, say word and I will add all of those titles as well. My goal here is simply to let it be known where to find all of Mr. Merritt's published works, and to my knowledge, that is what I've done.

I apologize for the gargantuan size of this post. As has been previously mentioned on this blog, my HTML/internet skills are horrid and I am thus left clueless as to how to make this post any smaller. ANY TIPS ON THIS WILL BE MUCH APPRECIATED FOREVER AND EVER AND WILL LIKELY RESULT IN SEXUAL FAVORS.

Eternal gratitude should be expressed to Mr. Alex Anderson who helped significantly in compiling the dates featured below.  I share credit for this work with him.

04/21/2017 - I added 50 Song Memoir,  plus assorted ephemera.

Distant Plastic Trees (Red Flame) February 1991
The Wayward Bus (PopUp! - includes all tracks on Distant Plastic Trees, excluding "Plant White Roses") January 1992
The Wayward Bus/Distant Plastic Trees (Merge – CD and cassette. Same as the PopUp! version, only with a 4:33 track of silence separating the two albums)  January 23, 1995
Charm of the Highway Strip (Merge – CD, cassette, vinyl) April 18, 1994: May 6, 2008 (vinyl)
Holiday (Feel Good All Over) September 27, 1994
Holiday (Merge – CD and vinyl. Same as the version on FGAO, only the first track is given the title "BBC Stereophonic Workshop") January 12, 1999: October 26, 2011 (vinyl)
Get Lost (Merge – CD, cassette, vinyl) October 24, 1995: November 4, 2008 (vinyl)
69 Love Songs (Merge – CD and vinyl Box set) September 7, 1999: April 20, 2010 (vinyl)
69 Love Songs Vol. 1 (Merge – CD) September 7, 1999
69 Love Songs Vol. 2 (Merge – CD) September 7, 1999
69 Love Songs Vol. 3 (Merge – CD) September 7, 1999
i (Nonesuch – CD) May 3, 2004
Distortion (Nonesuch – CD and vinyl) January 15, 2008: June 24, 2008 (vinyl)
Realism (Nonesuch – CD and vinyl, plus the iTunes release featuring the exclusive track "When Will You Love Me Again?") January 26, 2010: February 2, 2010 (vinyl)
Love At the Bottom of the Sea (Merge - CD and vinyl) March 6, 2012
50 Song Memoir (Nonesuch - CD, vinyl, and book-only digital download) March 10, 2017

House of Tomorrow (Feel Good All Over – CD. Same as 7” EP plus “Alien Being”) 1996
House of Tomorrow (Merge – CD. same as the 7" EP, plus "Alien Being") January 12, 1999
I Thought You Were My Boyfriend: Remixes (Nonesuch - three Rob Rivers remixes of the song from i, released on CD and LP) June 29, 2004
Please Stop Dancing (iTunes single featuring a Stephin-sung version of "The Nun's Litany") 2008
5 Selections From 50 Song Memoir (Nonesuch - handed out at the North Adams and NYC 50SM premier shows) November 17, 2016

100,000 Fireflies b/w Old Orchard Beach (Harriet) Silver Cover, September 1991: Color Cover, Mid-Spring 1992
Long Vermont Roads b/w Alien Being and Beach-a-Boop-Boop (Harriet - "Alien Being" was later released on the CD version of House of Tomorrow) December 1992
House of Tomorrow (Feel Good All Over) 1992
All the Umbrellas in London b/w Rats in the Garbage of the Western World (Merge) December 1995
Why I Cry b/w The Man Amplifier (Motorway) 1995
I Don't Believe You b/w When I'm Not Looking, You're Not There (Merge) August 1998
Andrew in Drag b/w When Next In Love, I Fall (Merge) January 31, 2012

Dr. Death's Volume 4: Marvels of Insect Life (includes Susan Anway version of "Crowd of Drifters") (C'est La Mort)
5 Rows of Teeth (includes Stephin-sung version of "Plant White Roses") (Merge)
The Long Secret (includes the same version of "Plant White Roses" as Distant Plastic Trees) (Harriet)
Crash Course for the Ravers: A Tribute to David Bowie (includes a cover of Bowie's "Heroes") (Undercover)
Random: A Gary Numan Tribute (includes a cover of Numan's "I Die: You Die") (Beggars UK)
Mrg100 (includes a version of "Smoke and Mirrors" remixed by Mark Robinson with added vocals by Evelyn Hurley) (Merge)
Pop Romantique (includes a cover of Jeanne Moreau's "Le Tourbillion") (Emperor Norton)
Oh! Merge (includes a version of "Take Ecstasy with Me," as sung by Susan Anway) (Merge)
Knitting on the Roof (includes a cover of "If I Were A Rich Man" from Fiddler on the Roof) (Knitting Factory Works)
Score! - 20 Years of Merge Records: The Remixes (includes a Mark Robinson remix of "Washington, D.C.") (Merge)

Wasps' Nests (London – CD, cassette) – March 21, 1995
Wasps' Nests 6 & 6/6 Box Set (London - the same album released on a series of 7" records, plus the song "Yet Another Girl," as sung by Stuart Moxham) March 21, 1995
Hyacinths & Thistles (Merge – CD) September 5, 2000

San Diego Zoo (London - CD Single of the song from Wasps' Nests) 1995

Heaven in a Black Leather Jacket b/w Rot in the Sun (Merge) March 1993

Reproductions: Songs of the Human League (includes a cover of The Human League's "Human," as sung by Lloyd Cole) (March)
Score! - 20 Years of Merge Records: The Remixes (includes a Xiu Xiu remix of "Volcana!")

The Tragic Treasury: Songs from A Series of Unfortunate Events (Nonesuch - CD) October 10, 2006

Looming in the Gloom (Hello - CD) March 1996
The New Despair (Merge - CD) October 14, 1997

The Long Secret (includes the same version of "The Abandoned Castle of My Soul" as The New Despair)
Survive & Advance, Vol 1 (includes the same version of "Smile! No One Cares How You Feel" as The Tragic Treasury, though slowed down slightly) (Merge)

All 13 of Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events audiobooks, later compiled and released on The Tragic Treasury
Coraline audiobook (includes "You Are Not My Mother and I Want to Go Home")

Vacationland (PopUp! – Cassette. includes demo versions of several songs featured on later releases, plus the as-of-yet unreleased "Big John Cage," "The Stroke of Midnight," and "Summer's Come and Gone" - made, according to Mr. Chris Ewen, while the band was shopping for a label) – 1993
Memories of Love (Slow River - CD) April 1997
Eternal Youth (Instinct - CD) August 20, 2002
Partygoing (Merge - CD) June 4, 2013
Memories of Love, Eternal Youth, and Partygoing (Merge - Compilation box set containing the three FBH LPs plus other ephemera; CD and vinyl) June 4, 2013

Lonely Days (Slow River - CD) April 1997
I'm Lonely (And I Love It) (Merge - CD) July 18, 2000
The Lonely Robot (Instinct - CD) January 21, 2003
FBH (Instinct - 12") 2003 (remix collection, "I'm A Vampire" incorrectly labelled as "Vampires")

Lonely Days (Setanta) 1998

Red Hot + Bothered (includes a Stephin-sung version of "Hopeless) (Red Hot)
Welcome to the Dollhouse soundtrack (includes "O! What a Dream It Was") (Innerstate)
Mystique (includes a Charnock Richard remix of "Lonely Days") (Sealed Fate)
Reproductions: Songs of the Human League (includes a cover of The Human League's "Don't You Want Me?") (March)
12 Tales (also includes "O! What a Dream It Was") (Instinct)
Where's Neil When You Need Him? (includes "Mr. Punch") (Dancing Ferret)


A Buffalo Rome - Cooking for the Priests (Shirley Simms sings Stephin Merritt songs; self released when they were both very young) 1983?
The Zinnias - Compost / Sand Dollar (self-released cassettes, the latter being a remixed version of the former.  Scant information can be found here.) 1985-6?

Eban & Charley (Merge) January 2002
Pieces of April (Nonesuch) November 4, 2003
Orphan of Zhao (iTunes release of the soundtrack to the opera penned by Mr. Merritt) 2006
Peach Blossom Fan (iTunes release of the soundtrack to the opera penned by Mr. Merritt) 2006
My Life as a Fairy Tale (iTunes release of the soundtrack to the opera penned by Mr. Merritt) 2006
Showtunes (Nonesuch - a compilation of highlights from the three operas) March 16, 2006
Coraline (Sh-K-Boom) Febrary 18, 2010
Obscurities (Merge - a rarities compilation featuring several previously released B-sides and rarities as well as five previously unreleased songs) August 23, 2011

Songs From This American Life (independently released; digital only - collecting songs from episode 541 of NPR'S This American Life)

Man of a Million Faces (Nonesuch - released as a CD single sold with Distortion and an iTunes single)
I'm in a Lonely Way (iTunes single)
The Book of Love/You're Not One of Us (iTunes single of Peter Gabriel's cover of the former song, Stephin Merritt's cover of the latter, later released as a Record Store Day exclusive 7")

Reproductions: Songs of the Human League (includes a cover of The Human League's "Get Carter," released under the name Stephin Merritt Soundtrack Man) (March)
Plague Songs (includes "The Meaning of Lice") (4AD)
Stroke: Songs of Chris Knox (includes a cover of Knox's "Beauty," as recorded by Mr. Merritt in 1988) (Rhythmethod)
Esopus 14: Television (released with the 14th edition of the twice-yearly magazine Esopus; includes Stephin's song in honor of "Meerkat Manor")
The Bob's Burgers Music Album (includes a cover of "Electric Love" from the television show Bob's Burgers, recorded with Kenny Mellman) (Sub Pop)

Flare - Celebrate the Misery 7" (includes a Stephin Merritt remix of the title track) (independently released)
Flare - Cut (Stephin delivers a line at the very end of the song "Love Finds Andy Warhol") (Affairs of the Heart)
moth wranglers - Never Mind the Context (Mr. Merritt sings lead vocals on "Let Go, Let Me" and plays ukulele, autoharp, washboard, spring and sings backing vocals on various other songs) (Magnetic)
Low - Tonight the Monkeys Die (includes a Stephin Merritt remix of Low's song "Monkey") (Sub Pop)
Air Miami - World Cup Fever (includes a Stephin Merritt remix of the title track) (Teenbeat)
Remate - Gigante (Stephin contributes ukulele to the title track, a single from Remate's album Superluv) (Everlasting)
Remate - Superluv (Same as above) (Everlasting)
V/A - Carols for a Cure: Broadway's Greatest Gifts, vol. 8 (includes Kiki & Herb's "Like a Snowman," a song written exclusively for the duo by Mr. Merritt)
Franz Ferdinand - Covers (Stephin contributes a cover of the band's song "Dream Again;" Record-Store Day exclusive 12")
Jon DeRosa - Black Halo (features the song "When Daddy Took the Treehouse Down," co-written by Mr. DeRosa and Stephin Merritt)