The Magnetic Fields
50 Song Memoir
If 50 Song Memoir is proof of anything, it’s that Stephen Merritt is at his best when facing a monumental challenge. In 1999, he released 69 Love Songs, a box set that was just that – 69 songs about love, each told with Merritt’s signature bittersweet, often humorous lyrics. Since that seminal release, Magnetic Fields have stagnated a bit with a handful of meandering, mixed-bag albums. But in 2017, the songwriter has returned to his muse with another gargantuan challenge: to write 50 songs about his 50 years on this planet. Not only does he meet the quota, but the massive task helped him to shake the cobwebs off of his muse and write some of his best material in over 20 years.
Some may find the idea of a five-CD, 50 song album to be a bit too tedious, but Merrit masterfully tells his story in a way that is endlessly entertaining and continuously mysterious. This isn’t a straight-forward memoir (we never learn the names of his parents, if he has siblings, or the names of his lovers); instead, each song plays as a snapshot – sometimes a hilarious story (a mean cat, failing an ethics class in college, a song about how surfing is a dumb sport) and sometimes a heartbreaking revelation (the impact his mother’s boyfriends would have on him over the years, fears of the AIDs epidemic, mental illness). Merrit is at his finest though when the songs are a combination of both his signature snark and sadness.
In this episode we listen to new music that pairs well with a sunny, summer afternoon. You’ll hear new songs from Sacred Paws, Spiral Stairs, The Feelies, Slowdive, Real Estate, Pile, Julie Byrne, and Why?. We also take a look at the Showtime documentary “Making Pet Sounds” and listen to Bob Dylan’s “North Country Blues”.
Check it out HERE, or better yet, subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, and GooglePlay (search: BDWPS).
Sacred Paws “Everyday”
Spiral Stairs “Dundee Man”
The Feelies “Gone, Gone, Gone”
Slowdive “Sugar for the Pill”
Real Estate “Darling”
Pile “Rope’s Length”
Julie Byrne “Follow My Voice”
Why? “Proactive Evolution”
The Beach Boys “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times”
Bob Dylan “North Country Blues”
I just realized that I never posted the latest Year of the Neil episode on here. Sorry for slacking as of late! I’m hoping to get back on track in the coming weeks.
In this episode, we take a look at a teenage Neil Young heading out on his own to pursue a career in music.
You can check it out HERE, or better yet, subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or GooglePlay (just search: Year of the Neil).
Father John Misty
[Sub Pop; 2017]
Whenever I listen to Father John Misty’s 2017 release, Pure Comedy, I can’t help but think about the works of one of my all-time favorite authors, Kurt Vonnegut. To place Josh Tillman, the man behind FJM, on the same level as Vonnegut would be a bit hyperbolic, but Tillman’s satirical portrayal of a misguided human race is reminiscent of Vonnegut’s hopeless take of humanity.
First off, I’d like to apologize for not keeping up on the blog much over the past few months. I’m hoping to get back on track over the next few weeks. Over the past several weeks, I’ve been preparing for my new blog series, “Year of the Neil: The Story of Neil Young.” For those that have followed BDWPS for the past year, you are probably familiar with the podcast I tried out last year about David Bowie’s life. Over the course of the year, the podcast would receive over 10,000 downloads, which is a pretty big deal considering I do it for free and did very little promoting of it. I suppose Bowie’s death drew people to it organically, but I’m also proud that many of those random visitors listened to all nine episodes.
Despite the amount of work I put into that series, I felt compelled to continue the “Year Of” project by continuing with a new artist in 2017. The first name to come to mind was Neil Young, one of my all-time favorite artists. After researching on his life, I knew I had to tell his wild story. Below you will find the first episode. You can also listen and subscribe to the series on iTunes and Stitcher (search: Year of the Neil). I hope you enjoy the first episode that takes a look at Neil’s upbringing.
Stillness in Wonderland
[Age 101; 2017]
Over the past three years, Little Simz, the up-and-coming London hip-hop star, has shown her range. Her 2015 underground hit, “Dead Body”, hinted toward a dark and brooding artist while 2016’s AGE 101 DROPX EP aimed toward a more electronic approach. 2016’s conceptual effort Stillness in Wonderland continues in her path of unexpected turns with an album that is mellow and soulful, reminiscent of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill or Erykah Badu’s Mama’s Gun.