Seven Pickles


The Ever-Expanding Catalog of Stephin Merritt

Decade Two in Review

At the conclusion of 2011, Stephin Merrit has the equivalent of 21 LPs, 5 EPs and a generous handful of other songs, scores and soundtracks on his resume. The early 2010 release Realism was Merritt's tenth album with The Magnetic Fields and his 2011 compilation Obscurities brought together rare and unreleased tracks from The Magnetic Fields, The 6ths, The Gothic Archies and solo endeavors. The sheer breadth of material that Merritt has amassed in just over twenty years is truly impressive.

Merritt's catalog has a unique characteristic - it's nearly devoid of singles or "famous" songs. I'd imagine creating a traditional "greatest hits" album would be a difficult endeavor. This is by no means a criticism of the materials quality. Instead, it shows a belief in the good of the the album. Very few bands extend a concept like "no-synths" over the course of three songs, let alone three albums. Another result of having no hits is that there are no nagging expectations for your concert performance. The Magnetic Fields can choose from hundreds of songs when putting together a setlist and there is no pressure to put on those few songs-that-everyone-EXPECTS-to-hear. Those songs don't exist on paper.

And no band puts together an original, eclectic, and career-spanning setlist like The Magnetic Fields. Case in point - below are the two setlists from the shows I've attended. The shows, less than two years apart, featured 27 or 28 songs split between two sets and an encore. There was only one song, "The Nun's Litany", that was played at both shows. I can't think of another band who could do this and still leave their audience fulfilled.

A Venn diagram showing the overlap of songs between two Magnetic FIelds setlists

On March 6th, 2012, Stephin Merritt will add even more to the catalog when The Magnetic Fields release their eleventh LP, Love at the Bottom of the Sea, on Merge Records.


[LISTEN] The Magnetic Fields - "Beach-a-Boop-Boop" (from Obscurities)
[LISTEN] The Magnetic Fields - "You Must Be Out of Your Mind" (from Realism)


An Introduction to 2010 and 2011 In Review

Decade Two in Review

I didn't write a 2010 Review and that's a shame because there was quite a bit of good stuff to write about. I'll remedy that by wrapping 2010 and 2011 together in a big "D2 in Review" series of posts. D2 meaning decade two, meaning the second decade of the 21st century, meaning no one has come up with a sensible name for this decade. But I'm not writing this introduction just to tell you this.

I want to talk about SOPA.