Tag Archives: Magnetic Fields

Magnetic Fields’ “69 Love Songs”: Ten Crucial Cuts

Illustration by Murugiah

By 1999, The Magnetic Fields had long been darlings of the college radio circuit. The band, led by Stephin Merritt, emerged from Boston in 1991 with the single “100,000 Fireflies” on Harriet Records—a small indie pop label that would itself enjoy a cult following during that decade—followed by the self-released full-length Distant Plastic Trees. In the years that followed, Merritt balanced a steady stream of Magnetic Fields releases with several side projects—The Sixths, The Gothic Archies, and Future Bible Heroes—all of which positioned him as one of the era’s most well-regarded songwriters. So, when 69 Love Songs, a triple-CD collection that served as The Magnetic Fields sixth album, dropped on September 7, 1999, it was an event. In fact, its release was supported by a two-night stint in New York, where the band played every song off the album, in order.

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Deep Cuts from 30 Years of Merge Records


When Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance co-founded Merge Records in 1989, the music industry was in a much different place. “It was around this time when you were in a punk rock band [and] it was for you,” Ballance says. “It wasn’t for anybody else—or it was for you and your friends, and you didn’t expect to make a living doing it.”

Over the last 30 years, however, Merge became a home not just for the duo’s own band, Superchunk, but also a place where hundreds of musicians made a living—and forged a career—on their own terms.

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