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THE MAGNETIC FIELDS

The Magnetic Fields

The House Of Tomorrow

    The House of Tomorrow EP celebrates 30 years in 2022. The House of Tomorrow EP marks the first release introducing vocals by Stephin Merritt.

    Cast your mind back to notable landmarks of 1992. Outside the Twin Cities, Mall of America opened to the public. Frank Gehry’s enormous golden fish sculpture, El Peix, welcomed Barcelona Olympians. And The House of Tomorrow, a four-song 7” on a small indie label, ushered in a new era for The Magnetic Fields. When Susan Anway, who sang on early albums Distant Plastic Trees and The Wayward Bus, left the group, Stephin Merritt stepped up to the microphone. “This was my first time singing on record,” he recalls. He sought to sound simple, subtle, and unobtrusive, à la the Japanese concept of shibusa. “But now, listening back, I hear a little too much vocal influence from the Jesus and Mary Chain. (I really should move to Scotland. I belong there.)”

    Likewise, the arrangements and production of The House of Tomorrow felt less polished overall than on its predecessors, even as the band’s sound was evolving. “I wanted to have rock instrumentation, plus cello (so ELO without keyboards), but everyone was tracked separately so there was no question of sounding like we were playing together,” explains Stephin. Instead, he chose to highlight the artifice. Voilà! “The drums are like Tusk only more so, the cello sounds like a synth, and the guitars might as well be programmed.” The House of Tomorrow rose in stature upon re-release on compact disc in 1996, with a new addition, “Alien Being” (previously relegated to the flip of the “Long Vermont Roads” single), boosting its modest track list from four songs to five. The limits of technology had stymied plans the first time: “You can’t fit five two-and-a-half–minute songs on a 7” record, even at 33rpm.”

    From World’s Fairs and Disneyland to Tex Avery and Hanna-Barbera cartoons, visions of the home of the future have long been popular. Although this new vinyl edition of The House of Tomorrow includes an etching of Buckminster Fuller’s visionary D.I.Y. Dymaxion House, Stephin laments the sluggish pace of architectural innovation. What is his dream home? “I want to live in Barbarella’s spaceship, with my neighbors being the Jetsons, floating defiantly over Edinburgh Castle.”

    Never before released as a 12”, this 30th anniversary remastered edition of The House of Tomorrow is available on opaque spring green vinyl (as well as basic black). But don’t press Stephin to discuss the color’s charms, please. “I had a sickly pea green bathroom in my East Village tenement, and I never got over it,” he reveals. “It’s okay on plants, but everywhere else, the browner it is, the less I hate it. My favorite shade of green is brown.”

    TRACK LISTING

    Side A
    1 Young And Insane
    2 Technical (You’re So)
    3 Alien Being
    4 Love Goes Home To Paris In The Spring
    5 Either You Don’t Love Me Or I Don’t Love You
    Side B
    Etching……..

    The Magnetic Fields

    Quickies

      Nonesuch Records releases the Magnetic Fields’ Quickies, a set of five vinyl EPs that features twenty-eight new short songs by Stephin Merritt, ranging in length from thirteen seconds to two minutes and thirty-five seconds. Quickies also will be available on CD.

      Merritt explains his thinking behind the Quickies concept: “I’ve been reading a lot of very short fiction, and I enjoyed writing 101 Two-Letter Words, the poetry book about the shortest words you can use in Scrabble. And I’ve been listening to a lot of French baroque harpsichord music. Harpsichord doesn’t lend itself to languor. So I’ve been thinking about one instrument at a time, playing for about a minute or so and then stopping, and I’ve been thinking of narratives that are only a few lines long. Also, I had been using a lot of small notebooks, so when I reach the bottom of the page, I’ve only gone a short way. Now that I’m working on a different album, I’m enforcing a large notebook rule so that I don’t do Quickies twice in a row.”

      Quickies features Merritt and other Magnetic Fields band members Sam Davol, Claudia Gonson, Shirley Simms, and John Woo. They are joined by longtime friends and collaborators Chris Ewen, Daniel Handler, and Pinky Weitzman.

      To date, Stephin Merritt has written and recorded twelve Magnetic Fields albums, including the beloved 69 Love Songs and the 2017 critically acclaimed Nonesuch box set, 50 Song Memoir, which chronicled the first fifty years of the songwriter’s life with one song per year. New York magazine called the box set ‘a celebration of Merritt’s sky-high range as a writer and a player, through the exploration of the circumstances that helped cultivate it … a delightful flip through the untold back pages of one of rock’s most singular voices, and, all in all, the best damned Magnetic Fields album in the last ten years.’ Merritt has also composed original music and lyrics for several music theatre pieces, including an off-Broadway stage musical of Neil Gaiman’s novel Coraline, for which he received an Obie Award. In 2014, Merritt composed songs and background music for the first musical episode of public radio’s This American Life. Stephin Merritt also releases albums under the band names the 6ths, the Gothic Archies, and Future Bible Heroes.


      TRACK LISTING

      Side A
      1. Castles Of America
      2. The Biggest Tits In History
      3. The Day The Politicians Died

      Side B
      1. Castle Down A Dirt Road
      2. Bathroom Quickie
      3. My Stupid Boyfriend

      Side C
      1. Love Gone Wrong
      2. Favorite Bar
      3. Kill A Man A Week

      Side D
      1. Kraftwerk In A Blackout
      2. When She Plays The Toy Piano
      3. Death Pact (Let's Make A)

      Side E
      1. I’ve Got A Date With Jesus
      2. Come, Life, Shaker Life!

      Side F
      1. (I Want To Join A) Biker Gang
      2. Rock 'n' Roll Guy

      Side G
      1. You've Got A Friend In Beelzebub
      2. Let's Get Drunk Again (And Get Divorced)
      3. The Best Cup Of Coffee In Tennessee

      Side H
      1. When The Brat Upstairs Got A Drum Kit
      2. The Price You Pay
      3. The Boy In The Corner

      Side I
      1. Song Of The Ant
      2. I Wish I Had Fangs And A Tail
      3. Evil Rhythm

      Side J
      1. She Says Hello
      2. The Little Robot Girl
      3. I Wish I Were A Prostitute Again

      Nonesuch Records releases the Magnetic Fields’ 50 Song Memoir, a five-CD/five-LP set that chronicles the 50 years of songwriter Stephin Merritt’s life with one song per year. It was produced by Stephin Merritt with additional production by Thomas Bartlett and Charles Newman. The Magnetic Fields performed the 50 Song Memoir over two nights per city, beginning November 18 & 19 at Mass MoCA in North Adams, MA, and continuing at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) on December 2 & 3. Further dates begin in spring 2017. 50 Song Memoir is available in five-LP and five-CD editions including an extensive interview by Daniel Handler and facsimile handwritten lyrics by Merritt, and as a standalone bound book with a full-album download card.

      Merritt began recording on his 50th birthday: February 9, 2015. Unlike his previous work, the lyrics on 50 Song Memoir are nonfiction – in Merritt’s words, “a mix of autobiography (bedbugs, Buddhism, buggery) and documentary (hippies, Hollywood, hyperacusis).” As he says in the album’s liner note interview with Handler, “I am the least autobiographical person you are likely to meet. I will probably not write any more true songs after this than I did before, but it’s been interesting working on it.”

      In addition to his vocals on all 50 songs, Merritt plays more than one hundred instruments on 50 Song Memoir, ranging from ukulele to piano to drum machine to abacus. In concert, the music will be played and sung by a newly expanded Magnetic Fields septet in a stage set featuring 50 years of artefacts both musical (vintage computers, reel-to-reel tape decks, newly invented instruments), and decorative (tiki bar, shag carpet, vintage magazines for the perusal of idle musicians). The seven performers each play seven different instruments, either traditional (cello, charango, clavichord) or invented in the last 50 years (Slinky guitar, Swarmatron, synthesizer). The stage extravaganza will be directed by the award-winning Jose Zayas (Love in the Time of Cholera, Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter).

      To date, Stephin Merritt has written and recorded eleven Magnetic Fields albums, including the popular and critically acclaimed 69 Love Songs. A song from that record, ‘The Book of Love’, has been covered by Peter Gabriel and has appeared in numerous TV shows and films; notably, the Nairobi Chamber Orchestra performed the song at an official state dinner in Kenya, before Presidents Barack Obama and Uhuru Kenyatta delivered their toasts. Merritt has also composed original music and lyrics for several music theatre pieces, including an off-Broadway stage musical of Neil Gaiman's novel Coraline, for which he received an Obie Award. In 2014, Merritt composed songs and background music for the first musical episode of public radio’s This American Life. Stephin Merritt also releases albums under the band names the 6ths, the Gothic Archies, and Future Bible Heroes. 


      TRACK LISTING

      Disc 1
      1. ’66 Wonder Where I’m From
      2. ’67 Come Back As A Cockroach
      3. ’68 A Cat Called Dionysus
      4. ’69 Judy Garland
      5. ’70 They’re Killing Children Over There
      6. ’71 I Think I’ll Make Another World
      7. ’72 Eye Contact
      8. ’73 It Could Have Been Paradise
      9. ’74 No
      10. ’75 My Mama Ain’t

      Disc 2
      1. ’76 Hustle 76
      2. ’77 Life Ain’t All Bad
      3. ’78 The Blizzard Of ’78
      4. ’79 Rock’n’Roll Will Ruin Your Life
      5. ’80 London By Jetpack
      6. ’81 How To Play The Synthesizer
      7. ’82 Happy Beeping
      8. ’83 Foxx And I
      9. ’84 Danceteria!
      10. ’85 Why I Am Not A Teenager

      Disc 3
      1. ’86 How I Failed Ethics
      2. ’87 At The Pyramid
      3. ’88 Ethan Frome
      4. ’89 The 1989 Musical Marching Zoo
      5. ’90 Dreaming In Tetris
      6. ’91 The Day I Finally…
      7. ’92 Weird Diseases
      8. ’93 Me And Fred And Dave And Ted
      9. ’94 Haven’t Got A Penny
      10. ’95 A Serious Mistake

      Disc 4
      1. ’96 I’m Sad!
      2. ’97 Eurodisco Trio
      3. ’98 Lovers’ Lies
      4. ’99 Fathers In The Clouds
      5. ’00 Ghosts Of The Marathon Dancers
      6. ’01 Have You Seen It In The Snow?
      7. ’02 Be True To Your Bar
      8. ’03 The Ex And I
      9. ’04 Cold-Blooded Man
      10. ’05 Never Again

      Disc 5
      1. ’06 “Quotes”
      2. ’07 In The Snow White Cottages
      3. ’08 Surfin’
      4. ’09 Till You Come Back To Me
      5. ’10 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea
      6. ’11 Stupid Tears
      7. ’12 You Can Never Go Back To New York
      8. ’13 Big Enough For Both Of Us
      9. ’14 I Wish I Had Pictures
      10. ’15 Somebody’s Fetish


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