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Magnetic Fields Holiday

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  • Holiday Holiday Quick View

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    Holiday

    Stephin Merritt has claimed that each of the first four Magnetic Fields albums has a specific and unique musical style. It is telling that Holiday shares its name with Madonna's first major hit single, because the musical style on display here is early-'80s-style synth-dance-pop. Of course, in 1994, at the pinnacle of the post-grunge alternative era, few musics could have been more resolutely unfashionable. There's no doubt that the ever-contrary Merritt had this in mind all along. In keeping with the escapist title and lighthearted music, Merritt's lyrics only occasionally-and then only lightly-touch upon his usual world-weary cynicism, as on the mournful Deep Sea Diving Suit. Merritt pursues a more romantic path for most Holiday, crooning the swooning Take Ecstasy With Me and Strange Powers with an uncharacteristic lightness of spirit. Chances are that it is all deeply ironic and bitter, but at least on the surface, Holiday is sheer delight.
    1. BBC Radiophonic Workshop
    2. Desert Island
    3. Deep Sea Diving Suit
    4. Strange Powers
    5. Torn Green Velvet Eyes
    6. The Flowers She Sent and the Flowers She Said She Sent
    7. Swinging London
    8. In My Secret Place
    9. Sad Little Moon
    10. The Trouble We've Been Looking For
    11. Sugar World
    12. All You Ever Do Is Walk Away
    13. In My Car
    14. Take Ecstasy With Me
    The Magnetic Fields
    $18.99
    180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
  • Shelter Shelter Quick View

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    Shelter


    London-based singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Olivia Chaney follows her 2015 Nonesuch debut, The Longest River, with Shelter, also set for release via Nonesuch Records. The album was produced by Thomas Bartlett (David Byrne, Nico Muhly, The Magnetic Fields, Sufjan Stevens, The National, St. Vincent, Father John Misty, et al.) and features eight original songs, along with Chaney's interpretations of Purcell's O Solitude and Frank Harford and Tex Ritter's Long Time Gone, first recorded by the Everly Brothers.


    Chaney describes her time writing songs for Shelter: I had been on the road a lot and was struggling with the grit and loneliness of urban life. I think I'd been questioning what home, belonging, a sense of purpose, and my own culture even meant. I'd been craving wilderness and a return to essentials for a long time. Then, while touring in the US, I realized the place I needed was already in my life. It was ancient, barely habitable, and remote.


    Thus a crumbling eighteenth-century cottage in the austere but magical hills of the North Yorkshire Moors-a family retreat since my teens, with no electricity or plumbing, where the only water comes from a spring-became the home for my work on Shelter, she continues. We brought out an Arts and Crafts Bechstein piano and an old wood burner to the house; and as summer's end turned to autumn's shorter, colder days, the room with the upright and stove fueled my stay.


    Chaney says of working with Thomas Bartlett, His close affiliation with such a varied and acclaimed group of artists was of enormous importance. His taste and sphere of understanding were as diverse as mine. He prioritized my compositions' meaning and lyricism, rather than jumping on the bandwagon of noisy popularity. I wanted a recording as intimate as the songs and their form. The only other musicians are Thomas and Jordan Hunt, my longtime collaborator who adds strings on select songs. It's just the three of us playing every sound you hear, using our instrumental and compositional craft, and Thomas' musician-producer's ear extraordinaire.


    Born in Florence, Italy, Chaney grew up in Oxford, England, in a household whose intellectual and artistic engagement was complemented by an expansive musical soundscape. This included Billie Holiday, Mozart operas, Sandy Denny, Prince, Tracy Chapman, Bert Jansch, Michael Jackson, and Joni Mitchell. She studied at London's Royal Academy of Music, where she took in everything the conservatory had to offer. Her curiosity led her further afield, from Ligeti to West African pop, Edith Piaf to Laurie Anderson, Mary Margaret O'Hara to Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Sonic Youth to Sappho, Kate Bush to old-time country music-all while finding her own voice.


    The range of artists she's shared a stage with includes Robert Plant, Zero 7, the Labeque Sisters, Martin and Eliza Carthy, and Kronos Quartet, with whom she also recorded two songs for the 2017 Nonesuch album Folk Songs. Most recently she fronted a Grammy-nominated album, The Queen of Hearts, forming a new outfit, Offa Rex, with The Decemberists. The Guardian's review of that album said that Chaney has a magical voice, full of heft, soul and sunlight, and fRoots said, Chaney has never sounded better, while the Arts Desk said it was her voice, with its clarity, power and emotional weight, that carries Offa Rex to the heights. The Financial Times added that Chaney's singing makes 'Willie O' Winsbury' one of the best versions ever.

    1. Shelter
    2. Dragonfly

    3. Arches
    4. IOU
    5. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
    6. Colin and Clem
    7. O Solitude
    8. Long Time Gone

    9. Roman Holiday
    10. House on a Hill
    Olivia Chaney
    $19.99
    Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
  • Realism (Out Of Stock) Realism (Out Of Stock) Quick View

    $19.99
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    Realism (Out Of Stock)

    The Magnetic Fields' third Nonesuch disc, Realism, is the flipside to the industrial pop of Distortion, the quartet's brilliant 2008 homage to, of all things, the clangorous sound of the Jesus and Mary Chain. While Distortion was recorded quickly and noisily in the stairwells and rooms of the New York City apartment building to which singer-songwriter-bandleader Stephen Merritt was about to bid adieu for California, Realism was cut in the distortion-free environs of a Los Angeles studio, and its sound is as pristine as a plein-air painting. There are no drum kits to be heard, and the fascinatingly varied instrumentation - guitars, accordions, violins, cellos, tablas, banjos, tuba, even a smattering of mellifluous falling leaves - did not need to be plugged in. And, as with Distortion, the album credits emphasize: No Synths.


    With tongue only slightly in cheek, Merritt has taken to declaring Realism his folk album. To get the point across, there is an upbeat, sing-along number early in the set called We Are Having a Hootenany. Merritt's inspirations, however, were the orchestrated, mostly British folk of the late '60s/early '70s, which owe as much to '60s psychedelia as to traditional music, and the work of Judy Collins, who stretched the boundaries of folk with the chamber pop arrangements of such albums as In My Life and Wildflowers.


    Like Collins, Merritt favors variety and theatricality. She skipped from Jacques Brel to the Beatles; he goes from the trippy, toy-box melodies of The Dolls' Tea Party and Painted Flower to the foot-stomping rhythms of The Dada Polka. There's even a deceptively festive holiday number, Everything Is One Big Christmas Tree, featuring a lusty chorus sung in German. In content, Merritt's songs veer between longing and loneliness, desire and dismissal, romance and revenge. Reality is as distorted as ever, and the characters who populate his songs are never just plain folk.


    Along with his long-time band-mates Sam Davol, Claudia Gonson and John Woo, Merritt is joined again by vocalist Shirley Simms and accordionist Daniel Handler. Also on board: horn player Johnny Blood and violinist Ida Pearle, familiar to fans of Magnetic Fields' earlier, independently released work.

    1. You Must Be Out of Your Mind
    2. Interlude
    3. We Are Having a Hootenanny
    4. I Don't Know What to Say
    5. The Dolls' Tea Party
    6. Everything Is One Big Christmas Tree
    7. Walk a Lonely Road
    8. Always Already Gone
    9. Seduced and Abandoned
    10. Better Things
    11. Painted Flower
    12. The Dada Polka
    13. From a Sinking Boat
    Magnetic Fields
    $19.99
    Vinyl LP & CD - Sealed Temporarily out of stock
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