Did you think you could just add me to your cart?

If there was a holiday (ha!) celebrating The Magnetic Fields, this video by Michael Davidescu, who hails from Portland, OR, would have to be included in the festivities. Poor Kiwi.


One of the best things the internet has enabled is the ability for fans to network through the interwebs while being miles and miles apart. Blogging, though, creates a half-anonymity. I never know who I am writing to (at? towards?), just where they live and how often they visit and things like that. So if you are a new reader (or old) and we've never spoken (you know who you are), and especially if you have a particular interest in what I am writing, feel free to send an email and we can even chat about future content and so forth. It will honestly make me more likely to update this thing now that Realism has been released and I don't have another major event to look forward to.

The Magnetic Fields: Realism

When the business of the next week or so dies down, I will write down my thoughts in greater detail, but here are my initial impressions.

One of the greatest signs of the quality of Stephin Merritt's craft is the total recognizability of his work in its various experimental iterations. Indeed, the last decade (and I'm including 69 Love Songs here because it is barely 2010) have been all about that kind of experimentation, based on the firm foundation of something that is fundamentally solid, clear, and, at times, soul-shattering. In this way, Stephin is both an auteur and an actor so talented that he can slip between characters seamlessly while leaving traces of his own discernable qualities.

All of that is to say that the early 90's totally rocked for The Magnetic Fields, and Realism makes me glad to have that sound back again. Perhaps it is a trick played by the earnestness acoustic music feigns so well, but this album is nevertheless the closest in a long time to what TMF sound like when they are not playing other characters.

While I write this, I am completely aware of the maturity that this album demonstrates that is probably derived from the last decade's experimental work. This maturity is as whimsical as it is derived from smart editing and good choices of vocalists (Shirley Simms should sing at least 50% of the band's songs, as far as I'm concerned). It would be wrong to attribute said maturity to some kind of linear progression, though. We know that the concepts of these albums are often thrown around simultaneously for years and emerge as the result of specific historical and spatial circumstances, including the band members' places of residence and the availability of certain spaces as recording studios. So while the album's perspective is clear, it is referential only to the extent that it marks a kind of vertical historicity in which threads of Holiday and Get Lost, and even more so in this album, the Charm of the Highway Strip, emerge alongside moments of referencing Distortion's themes and 69 Love Songs' variety.

I am going to stop myself before I write anything else. Buy the album and enjoy it.


"I'm Claudia, the manager of The Magnetic Fields, and this is, um, my...client."

Check out Claudia and Stephin's introduction to The Magnetic Fields' upcoming album, Realism, over on their Nonesuch records page.

Stephin apparently took harp lessons to make the album. "I don't usually take lessons in anything before I play it, but it turns out the harp is kind of difficult, actually," he says. Claudia calls it "real, actual, played-with-ability harp" all over the album. Personally, I was excited about the bouzouki, but Stephin Merritt harps are good, too :)


TMF 69LS comics

Still counting down the days to Realism.

To ward off the jitters, check out these pretty damn good interpretations of 69 Love Songs: How F*cking Romantic.


bonus interview: ld beghtol and shirley simms

...on recording 69LS, Realism, and meeting Stephin Merritt.

Read it over at Chickfactor magazine.

And, double bonus gallery of pics of Stephin and Claudia and Daniel Handler and LD Beghtol and the whole bunch in the 90's and early 00's, from Gail O'Hara.

an interwebs hootenanny!

The Magnetic Fields' official Realism tour blog, care of M + E: We're Having a Hootennany.

You may remember Michael and Emma's previous blogging effort for the Distortion tour. Emma's Stephin's personal assistant and together with her husband, Michael, she designs the merchandise that we will all spend a ton of money on not too long from now.

Which leads me to a very short rant: I don't understand what the male and female symbols on the Distortion/Realism covers have to do with the albums. I know both albums play with genre-bending a bit, but the gendered figures seem unnecessary. Especially because, unlike the set of posters accompanying Distortion, the Realism poster doesn't really make use of the album cover's iconography. Other than that, though, I do happen to enjoy the different shades of pink and general minimalism going on here.

Still counting down the days...



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


You found your inner self, I found my inner fish

"Fish Sticks" has been stuck in my head for days. It reminds me, not ironically, of being in high school and listening to Fishboy on the Grapevine lake.

Buy the album from Greyday Records.

The Heligoats: Fish Sticks

More songs on the band's Myspace.


The Heligoats- Fish Sticks

The Heligoats, one of my BFF's favorite bands, are a Troubled Hubble side project of sorts, though they predate it. It took awhile, but they've grown on me.

Here's a really excellent song from their upcoming album, Goodness Gracious. Hard not to swoon, isn't it?

(my mp3 upload thing isn't working so this is what you get for now but the sound is pretty good)