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.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Romance Studies Preview

Stephin Merritt is going to be part of an upcoming exhibit at The Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston called The Romance Studies.  Mr. Merritt is collaborating on the project with visual artist Ali Naschke-Messing and choreographer Rashaun Mitchell.  The Romance Studies premiers January 2014.

In the mean time, however, you can purchase tickets for a sneak preview of the residency here.  During this preview, which will happen on July 18, the three will be sharing songs and ideas that will likely come to full fruition in the completed exhibit.  Details of exactly what this will entail are scarce, but this is exciting nonetheless!  If any of you gentle readers attend the preview, I would love to hear back a report!!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Future Bible Heroes Announce Summer Tour!

Future Bible Heroes will be going on a North American tour this summer!!  The band will, like at the already-announced Bell House show, lack Stephin Merritt but these shows are bound to be amazing nontheless.  Here's to hoping Mr. Merritt is sitting this tour out not only due to lack of interest, but also due to being close to the completion of the musical he is writing with Daniel Handler!

The touring band will consist of Claudia Gonson, Christopher Ewen, Shirley Simms and Anthony Kaczynski.  A full list of dates can be found here.  If you're at the Chicago show, come say hi to this overly eager little blogger!!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Video Interview w/ FBH

Above is an absolutely wonderful video of Chris Ewen, Claudia Gonson and Stephin Merritt discussing the history of Future Bible Heroes and offering some brief knowledge about the new album, Partygoing.  It's full of really wonderful information, including some very brief tidbits of songs off the new record and some super adorable footage of the three band members dancing.  Watch it!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Future Bible Heroes Live Date

Future Bible Heroes have announced their first live show in over a decade!  They will be performing at the Chickfactor 21 Festival at The Bell House in NYC on June 12th.  Stephin Merritt is not scheduled to perform, but a show featuring Christopher Ewen and Claudia Gonson sounds lovely in and of itself.

Tickets are available here.

I hope this means that future live dates are in the works, though I admit that seems unlikely.  It'd sure be great to be proven wrong, though.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Future Bible Heroes to release "Partygoing," plus retrospective box set!

Here it is, folks!  The news I've been waiting to report since I started this blog!  THE NEW FUTURE BIBLE HEROES ALBUM IS COMING OUT THIS YEAR!!!  It is entitled Partygoing and it's going to look a lot like this:

The release date is June 4th, via Merge Records!  And, if that isn't enough for you, then get a load of this: on top of that, FBH will be releasing a retrospective box set of ALL their previously recorded material, entitled Memories of Love, Eternal Youth, and Partygoing.  The box set will be released in both CD and vinyl formats, marking not only the first time that these albums are available worldwide, but also the first time they are available in vinyl format.

The box set's cover will look like this:

More information can be found at House of Tomorrow and the Merge Records website.

I'm shaking as I type this I am so excited!  I would have been thrilled for a new album alone, but ALL the FBH material coming to vinyl!?!?  Why is the world so good to me these days?

EDITED TO ADD: OMG you can totally go here and hear a brand new Claudia-sung Future Bible Heroes track entitled "Living, Loving, Partygoing!"  It's remarkable, of course.  Also: there is a track entitled "Satan, Your Way is a Hard One," which was the title of the abandoned Gothic Archies single and I'm confused and delighted and is it obvious I'm freaking out a little?

Friday, March 15, 2013

My Bowie

Stephin Merritt wrote this really touching article about David Bowie for Out Magazine.  All of the topics involved (Stephin Merritt, David Bowie, gender politics, fun) are extremely important to me, so I recommend the article on a lot of counts.  Check it out!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Confrimation of New FBH!

Chris Ewen has been active in his social media outlets in the past few days confirming the existence of a new Future Bible Heroes album!  I've seen news a brewin', but have felt uncomfortable sharing because it has yet to be said in a public forum.  Today, though, the Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt and The Magnetic Fields twitter page posted about it and that is official enough for me.

I am excited about the potentiality of new music and just as excited to continue reporting information to you, my fair readers, as it becomes available.  It has been a decade since Future Bible Heroes' last release and I'm sure their return will be a triumphant one!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Stephin Merritt to Appear on Bob's Burgers Web Series

In a rather strange turn of events, Stephin Merritt is scheduled to appear in a spinoff webseries of the FOX animated program Bob's Burgers cleverly entitled Bob's Buskers.  The new webseries will have famous musicians come in and recreate a song from the show in true animated fashion.  Watch an animated St. Vincent in the first episode of Bob's Buskers here.

Happy Valentine's Day, gentle readers!!  I, of course, am celebrating by playing the forever awe-inspiring 69 Love Songs in its entirety and you should do the same.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Happy Birthday, Stephin Merritt!

Despite weirdly popular rumors to the contrary, today is our favorite songwriter's birthday!  So, happy birthday, Mr. Merritt, and thank you for all that you do.  Let's all celebrate by playing a bevy of this music we all love so much, right?  Right.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Under-heard Stephin Merritt Covers

Lately I've been listening to a lot of covers of Magnetic Fields songs.  I'm assuming we're all familiar with the Peter Gabriel and Ben Gibbard and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart and The Arcade Fire songs and the Verfrumdungseffekt comp, and while I certainly agree that all of those songs are wonderful renditions of the originals, I feel like there are so many cover versions that go unheard.  So, I figured I'd take the time here to point out some covers that I love with which you, my gentle readers, might be unfamiliar.

1. The Fields of Magnetic - Give Me Back My Dreams

I am well-known for touting the original version of this song as amongst my favorite songs by Mr. Merritt, so I am obviously protective of it.  What's strange about this cover is that it mostly disregards the original.  The raging cello offers a sense of urgency throughout the entire song that directly juxtaposes with The 6ths' more somber version.  The vocals, while definitely following the same melody, are far more angry as well, bringing wholly different associations to the song.  Plus, the singer's accent is ridiculously charming (can we talk about the way he pronounces "just" for a couple hours?).  There is a cover of "Asleep and Dreaming" on the same page, and it's also good, but for me, The 6ths song will always be the winner.

2. Zoe Woodbury-High - No One Will Ever Love You

The vocals on this version might be slightly too twee for some folk, particularly when coupled with the ukulele, but goddamn it if those harmonies and that harp don't just do it for me.  The usage of a harp on this song is about as inspired a choice as I can imagine and, like the previous cover, turns this song into something else entirely.  It is a gentler version that still packs the punch it is supposed to pack.

3. Matt Gurley - Lonely Days

Firstly, this is such an inspired song choice!  I have heard only scant few covers of Future Bible Heroes songs and it's refreshing that this is a good one that is also well-done (meaning it's not just some schlub with a webcam and a ukulele).  I appreciate the vocal effects very much and think this functions as an excellent stripped-down showcasing of this wonderful song.

4. Portastatic - You Love to Fail

Perhaps the most popular of all the songs I'll post today, I just can't resist sharing it some more.  This may very well be my favorite cover of a Magnetic Fields song ever.  There are a myriad strange background doo-dad noises that find the perfect balance of highlighting the song's melody and adding interesting layers of their own.  Plus, Mac's voice is just so pretty here!

5. Sarah Elizabeth - I Shatter

By far the most underproduced song I'll post today, this song still functions as a really pretty version of an already beautiful song.  "I Shatter" has long been my favorite of any of the 69 Love Songs and covers of it are, sadly, scarce.  Luckily, I like this one a whole lot.  I think this girl's chord choices are very interesting and she manages to maintain the original's manic nature without ever competing with Sam Davol's excellent cello work.  I also quite enjoy the vocal lilting she does at the end, which is entirely her own addition to the song.

6. Br'er - Irma

I'm 100% sure I posted about this song when it initially was released, but goddamn it, it deserves to be discussed some more because it's really, really good.  The instrumentation is entirely different than the stripped-down, chamber-poppy production of the original and is far more experimental.  Yet, the most charming aspect of "Irma," has and always will be its melody, and Br'er recognizes this fact by keeping it entirely intact.

I'd love to hear some more interesting covers of Stephin Merritt songs, so feel free to send me some if you know of any.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

An Assortment of News + Brief Musings

Above is a video of Stephin Merritt playing the Beck song "Old Shanghai" about which I talked in the previous post.  Seeing the video is a really enjoyable experience for me; it reminds me of the Strange Powers documentary, and how meaningful the scenes where Stephin and Claudia recorded i were to me.  Seeing the music get made feels like a rare privilege.  So, yeah, watch the video.

You can learn about Mr. Merritt's toilet paper affinities here.

I've been listening to Holiday a lot lately, and of course it's no news that it's a remarkable album.  But any time I spend away from it seems to make me forget exactly how remarkable it really is.  Every sound on the album is so curious to me, I'm unsure of 99% of their origins and yet it never feels inaccessible.  The synthlines are as hooky and catchy as any Mr. Merritt has ever written and the lyrics as melancholy and interesting; it's a shame that this album isn't more heavily lauded as one of the best of the 90's.  All bias aside, I think it's extraordinary.  Someone should write one of those 33 1/3 books about it.  Ahem.