The Old New Music

A Q&A With Stephin Merritt Of The Magnetic Fields

The albums of the Magnetic Fields are sonically gorgeous accompaniments to heartbreak. As the band's songwriter and vocalist, Stephin Merritt is known for his wry, morose lyrics—from the groundbreaking 69 Love Songs: "The moon to whom the poets croon/has given up and died/Astronomy will have to be revised"—but I was also curious about Merritt's other writing pursuits, which include a period as a music critic for Time Out New York in the 90s. A couple of his musical collaborations have also had a literary edge. He worked with author Daniel Handler to create an album based on Handler's Lemony Snicket series and with writer Neil Gaiman to craft [...]


Talking To Tony Dekker Of Great Lake Swimmers

Tony Dekker, frontman for the Toronto-based indie folk band Great Lake Swimmers (that's him on the far right), grew up on a farm in Wainfleet, Ontario. While he's spent the past 12 years in Toronto and touring across North America and Europe, the songs he writes remain heavily influenced by the outdoors—and Great Lake Swimmers have a history of recording in unusual, out-of-the-way locations. But for their fifth album—the spare, beautiful New Wild Everywhere, out April 3—for the first time the band recorded many of the songs in what Dekker calls "a proper studio." I talked to him on the phone when, having just returned from a month-long [...]


How 'Try A Little Tenderness' Got Its Soul (And Lost It)

"Sounds so soulful, don't you agree?"

That's Jay-Z, breaking in to admire the long, pitched-down passage from "Try A Little Tenderness" that opens "Otis," the second official leak from Jay and Yeezy's Watch The Throne. The track on "Otis" alternates between interpolation and staccato bursts, as if torn between literalism (reverence?) and avoiding a lawsuit (its own kind of nostalgia). Since it's 2011, and Otis Redding's estate is well advised of its rights and powers, Redding is credited as a featured artist on the track, a featured role that almost makes it seem like "Otis" is the King of Soul's posthumous tribute to himself, "Unforgettable" minus the filial right, [...]