Score! 20 Years of Merge Records

Merge is now taking pre-orders for subscriptions to their 14-disc series, Score!. The collection is curated by some pretty cool people, including Marjane Satrapi, Miranda July, Amy Poehler, and David Byrne. You also get a bunch of other stuff, like a book of art, a cover album, and various other things. I don't see any mention of The Magnetic Fields on this page but hopefully there are other things that probably make it worth buying. Plus, who doesn't like mail?

As an aside, I have had some issues with mail order from Merge in the past. They wouldn't pay for return shipping on items that were defective, so I eventually just ended up keeping a broken record because it would have costed the same to ship it back the second time. They did send me some free stuff but I was still stuck with the other things. So, take from that what you will, especially if you are seriously considering subscribing to Score!


I'm on tumblr

Content will be largely the same, but this makes it easier for anyone who uses tumblr instead of blogger. Add me if you have one:


Fact: I have an unhealthy love of MGMT

But like, who doesn't? Maybe some people don't like them. I am not ashamed. "Kids" will probably be my favorite song of the year. So I was pretty excited about SPIN's collection of the Top 25 MGMT covers. But the version I ended up loving the most was by (you guessed it) MGMT.

Its a remix of "Kids" from the We Don't Care EP. How can something so fun make me feel so sad at the same time?

MP3: Kids


a eulogy for the mix tape

I had a stream of thoughts after reading this essay by Claudia Gonson today about mix tapes she received from Stephin Merritt and her ex-boyfriend, John, in high school.

I guess I'm kind of lucky to have had my musical coming of age in a time of mix-tapes. I used to have this old cassette recorder that would record my voice, and I'd make these tapes with recordings of my own songs, some of others, and trade them with my friends. It's pretty funny to think that there is this whole canon of music that I made floating around out there somewhere (probably in a landfill) and that I will never get it back.

The mix CDs that I spent my high school years making were terrible. No one knew how to do anything with digital music back then. It was before iPods even really existed, so no one thought to rip music onto their computers. And it was when internet was still mostly dialup, so there wasn't as much file-sharing as there was in the 2-3 years following it. Usually, nostalgic sentiments about a simpler past make me want to vomit, but I can't help but feel pangs of longing for the days when my sources of music were a Walkman, some really bad headphones, and a really old radio/cassette deck my parents had kept since college.

There is a whole generation of people whose first cassette was Ace of Base's The Sign, who shared the experience of putting "Smells like Teen Spirit" on every mix tape ever, and who first heard Neutral Milk Hotel through worn tapes being passed around their friends. Somehow, I am on the cusp of this generation and another with purely digital fixations. Even household-marketed turntables now have USB drives in them. And you can't even find tapes anywhere. I can think of one record store in the whole city that sells cassette tape accessories and they are all dusty because no one has thought about them for years.

This makes me sad. We should resurrect them, or at the very least find our old cassette players and boxes of tapes, experience the rewinding and fast-forwarding, and think about the care and work that was put into those things. I realize that technology has become faster and more efficient, but the whole experience of it has changed. My iPod lets me listen to whatever I want; my life has a self-created soundtrack of complete albums from start to finish or of playlists I've created haphazardly through a right-click. No one makes me mixes anymore; no one thinks critically about what it means to order and combine music anymore.

That is my rant about that. Back to paper writing. *Sigh*


The Magnetic Fields 10/17/08

"They are simply THE best," my friend Elizabeth says. "They make me want to die inside, in a good way." I have to agree, because I spent the entire show simultaneously laughing and crying and wanting to dance. It had been a really rough day, following a semi-rough night, and I really needed that kind of emotional release. Afterwards, I felt really calm, as if everything was okay again. All of the laughing certainly helped.

The venue was nice--a symphony hall and I had decent seats, close enough to see everything, but far away enough that I still felt these weird pangs of sadness, possibly due to my musical religiosity when it comes to TMF. There was the usual witty banter, mostly with Claudia going on and on and on about nothing important while Stephin tuned his brand-new (apparently just purchased in Austin) bouzouki. Stephin would respond shortly, shyly, and usually by making fun of her, which was basically the best thing ever. It is not entirely as if I don't like Claudia. I just don't like her as much as everyone else. Shirley Simms was fantastic. She sounded exactly like a studio recording. I didn't really understand why Claudia shared so many of her parts, but, luckily, Shirley's voice is much richer and the songs didn't suffer as a result. Sam Davol was amazing on the cello, especially in songs in which he stood in for synth. I have always really liked him, because he is obviously this really intelligent guy, and his face is on the cover of 69LSv3, which is my favorite of the 3 volumes. John Woo was really quiet the whole time, as he has been other times I've seen TMF. I have a feeling that no one really knows anything about him. Stephin was pretty much the same as usual--quiet but with a quick wit. He did not look as gloomy as usual, despite the rain outside and it being the worst day in the universe for everyone else.

The opener, Michael Hearst, was a troubadour of sorts, with a bunch of little short stories that he recited, some slides of pictures he drew, and a few songs from his project, Songs for Newsworthy News. He is a pretty interesting fellow--plays the theremin, has this band where he gets famous writers to write lyrics that he composes music to. I can see why TMF would choose him to tour with them. You can find some of his stories here. My favorite one goes like this:

by Michael Hearst

When I was a child my mother would take me to the Virginia Beach public library. Not only were books available for check-out, but so were puzzles, board games, and small statues. On one particular visit, my mother let me check out a small ceramic statue of a cat. At home, I placed the cat above the television in the den. Two weeks later, we returned the ceramic cat to the library.

Anyways, on to the set list, which I tried to scribble down as accurately as possible:

1. When I'm Out of Town (6ths)
2. No One Will Ever Love You
3. California Girls
4. Walking my Gargoyle (Tragic Treasury)
5. Nun's Litany
6. All My Little Words
7. Old Fools
8. I Don't Believe You
9. Dreams Anymore
10. This Little Ukulele
11. All Dressed Up in Dreams (6ths)
12. Xavier Says
13. Zombie Boy
14. Papa Was a Rodeo
15. Lonely Highway (with cello subbing in for synth)
16. Take Ecstasy With Me
17. Courtesans
18. Crows (Tragic Treasury)
19. The Tiny Goat (Gothic Archies--this one was all Claudia)
20. Too Drunk To Dream
21. Book of Love (surprisingly, probably the worst sounding song of the night. something was very wrong here)
22. Give Me Back My Dreams (6ths)
23. Drive on Driver
24. What a F*cking Lovely Day (Orphan of Zhao)
25. Yeah, Oh Yeah
26. It's Only Time
27. Grand Canyon

Overall, a pretty good setlist. They were short on time, hence the one-song encore. I always get my hopes up that they will play "Busby Berkeley Dreams," "Sad Little Moon," "All the Umbrellas in London," or "Torn Green Velvet Eyes." There wasn't much in the way of Holiday or Get Lost going on, though they did say that Get Lost is coming out on vinyl in two weeks. The addition of so many songs from the 6ths, from the Tragic Treasury and the Gothic Archies was nice, though, because it isn't as if Stephin goes on tour for those projects, and if he does, never so widely.

I didn't end up taking any pictures, but I did get a sweet 3-D poster that I'm getting framed and putting up in my living room.


Black Lips 10/16/08

That should probably actually be 10/17/08. The actual Black Lips didn't go on stage until about 12:30 am, though I think the bizarro-Black Lips (The Replacements) went on a bit earlier. I expected some kind of huge spectacle, but except for all the ice flying everywhere and this little guy in front of me getting punched in the face, it was actually pretty tame. They played a few songs that they identified as ones that will be on the new album, all of which sounded pretty good. As dance-y as I would want such songs to be. There was much dancing and hugging and various other things like that. It was one of the calmer nights I've had lately, believe it or not.

Despite managing to get there pretty late, we caught a few of the other bands. The best one by far was a girl band called the Stolen Minks. They're from Canada and have cute Canadian accents that I thought were fake but was pleased to learn were real. Actually, they reminded me of my 11th grade English teacher, who was from Minnesota, really cute and innocent-looking, but a total badass. Kindly buy some of their records here. They are about cute things like dance party revolutions.


Help save Troy Davis

Regardless of what you think about the death penalty, we can pretty much all agree than when 7 out of 9 witnesses recant their stories, and that their testimony was the best evidence for convicting Troy Davis, there should at least be another trial.

From Amnesty.org:
The US Supreme Court as declined to hear Troy Davis's case...

Restrictions on Federal appeals have prevented Troy Anthony Davis from having a hearing in federal court on the reliability of the witness testimony used against him, despite the fact that most of the witnesses have since recanted, many alleging they were pressured or coerced by police. Troy Davis remains on Georgia death row, and may be scheduled for execution in the near future.

Troy Davis was sentenced to death for the murder of Police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail at a Burger King in Savannah, Georgia; a murder he maintains he did not commit. There was no physical evidence against him and the weapon used in the crime was never found. The case against him consisted entirely of witness testimony which contained inconsistencies even at the time of the trial. Since then, all but two of the state's non-police witnesses from the trial have recanted or contradicted their testimony. Many of these witnesses have stated in sworn affidavits that they were pressured or coerced by police into testifying or signing statements against Troy Davis.

One of the two witnesses who has not recanted his testimony is Sylvester "Red" Coles – the principle alternative suspect, according to the defense, against whom there is new evidence implicating him as the gunman. Nine individuals have signed affidavits implicating Sylvester Coles.

Sign the petition here and/or follow any of the other action steps outlined.


Countdown to next Friday- The Magnetic Fields at the Woodruff Arts Center

Who is going? I get really excited about fellow enthusiasts.

Needless to say, I am SOOOO EXCITED and have an outfit picked out and everything.

Evangelicals 10/9/08

I was dancing when I took these pictures, but I think they capture the mood just right:

Evangelicals were glorious, spooky, gloomy, deliciously dark, and so so much fun. There was so much atmosphere--it felt like everyone and everything in the room was melting into one long, full, deep music note. I wondered if it would have been possible to achieve the same effect in a space that wasn't so small or without the echo in the mics. It didn't matter though--everything was so aesthetically pleasing about this show, including the strobe lights. It made me want to have a Halloween party with zombies. Kind of a weird thing, these guys are friends with my good friends Blake and Conor. Small world. If you haven't heard their newest album, The Evening Descends, do so immediately.

All of the supporting bands were excellent. Parenthetical Girls were really beautiful and amusing, like watching a one-man musical with a band playing in the background. Gesticulations and all. I loved it. I have a fantasy of Zach Condon and Stephin Merritt both joining this band and singing each other songs in the street , maybe making a Takeaway Show.

Some local openers that actually impressed me/that you should check out:
Tealights: They were much more post-rock on stage than their Myspace lets on. There were actually moments during their set when I let out a sigh of relief because I was thinking about when I'd seen Asobi Seksu on the same stage do kind of a similar thing and drown me in horrible horrible noise from which I have never recovered. Way to not drown me in noise, Tealights. And the cello was excellent.

Carnivores , to me, are the kind of band I could listen to forever and ever and ever while jumping up and down and flailing my hair around and never ever get tired. They had a lot more energy and noise live than in the songs on their Myspace. I have a craving for it already, the really deep but subtle kind I get for chili paneer from Bamboo Garden, or for long runs when I am overly energetic.

Pushing Daisies, S2 Ep 2

Am I the only one who feels bad for Olive Snook? Imagine falling in love with a dreamy piemaker who looks at another woman in this manner:

For some reason, the ratings are plummeting. It must be the total lack of advertising. Or the general stupidity of the TV-watching populace. I mean, I know there is an election going on, but can't you people take a momentary break to watch the most adorable show on the planet?

I mean, just look at this face:


I <3 the piemaker

If you don't watch Pushing Daisies or if you watch it and do not like it for any reason, I just don't think we can be friends. Well, perhaps we can if you change your mind and come around to it. Apparently, the premiere didn't get great ratings, which I really cannot understand. What is not to love?

There is a hot piemaker:

His gorgeous childhood love who he lives with but can never touch:

They look at each other like this and it makes me want to die (in a good way):

There other sweet sweet fairytale things that make you want to cry and jump for joy and sigh all at once.


Fact: Against Me! still has it

Except for the glaring omission of "Baby, I'm an Anarchist," which really left a big conceptual hole in the show (though I assume was deliberate), they continued to rock in the satisfyingly dirty way that only Against Me! can rock. The setlist was mostly from New Wave, but I haven't listened to that album as much so I can't tell if there were major songs left out. I will say, though, despite defending this band through all the backlash and accusations of selling out, I thought New Wave was one of the weaker albums until last night. The sheer force of "Borne on the FM Waves" performed live, even without Tegan, made me cry. That is, until a crowd surfer kicked me in the face. Which was still awesome.

The show was kind of weird because Ted Leo is the band AM! is touring with. I never really got Ted Leo, and I still don't, though his sense of humor is pretty awesome. There was a surprisingly small fratboy douchebag presence at this show, which was the first in awhile. I'm not really one to impose authenticity on others, but you could really tell from the crowd that AM! still has large portions of their originally dedicated fanbase--I recognized people from the other times I've seen them in this city.

Anyways, I haven't dropped off the earth. School is just a lot harder than I expected it to be, so I'll try to post more regularly once I settle into a more consistent schedule.

Have you read this interview with Stephin Merritt in the Village Voice? Highlights include:

-The next TMF album will be the third non-electro-pop album in a row. It is currently in recording.
-The French shoe company that made the Stephin Merritt shoe hasn't sent him so much as a shoelace
-"Smash the European Union...I want my shoes. Destroy the world. Goodbye."

Back to work.