The Magnetic Fields - 2021 'Quickies' Tour with Christian Lee Hutson - 2.10.21Wednesday, February 10 2021 6pm Doors / 8pm Start
- Front Premier
- Bar Stool
The Magnetic Fields - 2021 'Quickies' Tour with Christian Lee Hutson - 2.10.21
at City Winery Washington DC
- Front Premier
- Bar Stool
The Magnetic Fields celebrate their new release "Quickies" with special residencies at intimate City Winery venues in seven cities—Atlanta, Chicago, Nashville, Boston, New York, Washington, and Philadelphia—from June 1 through July 1. The shows will feature a mix of songs from "Quickies" along with fan favorites from 69 Love Songs, 50 Song Memoir and their other albums. Many of these songs have not been heard live since 2012.
Merritt explains his thinking behind the Quickies concept: “I’ve been reading a lot of very short fiction, and I enjoyed writing 101 Two-Letter Words, the poetry book about the shortest words you can use in Scrabble. And I’ve been listening to a lot of French baroque harpsichord music. Harpsichord doesn’t lend itself to languor. So I’ve been thinking about one instrument at a time, playing for about a minute or so and then stopping, and I’ve been thinking of narratives that are only a few lines long. “Also, I had been using a lot of small notebooks, so when I reach the bottom of the page, I’ve only gone a short way. Now that I’m working on a different album, I’m enforcing a large notebook rule so that I don’t do Quickies twice in a row.”
Quickies features Merritt and other Magnetic Fields band members Sam Davol, Claudia Gonson, Shirley Simms, and John Woo. They are joined by longtime friends and collaborators Chris Ewen, Daniel Handler, and Pinky Weitzman.
To date, Stephin Merritt has written and recorded twelve Magnetic Fields albums, including the beloved 69 Love Songs and the 2017 critically acclaimed Nonesuch box set, 50 Song Memoir, which chronicled the first fifty years of the songwriter’s life with one song per year. New York magazine called the box set “a celebration of Merritt’s sky-high range as a writer and a player, through the exploration of the circumstances that helped cultivate it … a delightful flip through the untold back pages of one of rock’s most singular voices, and, all in all, the best damned Magnetic Fields album in the last ten years.” Merritt has also composed original music and lyrics for several music theater pieces, including an off-Broadway stage musical of Neil Gaiman’s novel Coraline, for which he received an Obie Award. In 2014, Merritt composed songs and background music for the first musical episode of public radio’s This American Life. Stephin Merritt also releases albums under the band names the 6ths, the Gothic Archies, and Future Bible Heroes.
Christian Lee Hutson
On his ANTI- Records debut Beginners, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Christian Lee Hutson embeds every lyric with his most intimate self-dialogue, sharing painful confessions and private jokes, imagined conversations and elaborate daydreams. The album—produced by his friend and collaborator Phoebe Bridgers—spotlights a nuanced songcraft and understated candor that all but erases the distance between feeling and expression. Throughout this collection of songs, Hutson ultimately speaks an illuminating truth about regret and forgiveness and the endless confusion in growing up.
“I went with Beginners as the title because that’s where I feel like I am in my life—like I’m still just learning and trying to figure out how to navigate the world,” Hutson notes.
Hutson and Bridgers recorded Beginners at L.A.’s legendary Sound City Studios, but purposely preserved the homespun quality of his cell-phone-recorded demos. “With almost all the songs, we started with my voice memos and then figured out what to add—if anything—as opposed to going in with some grand idea of what it should sound like,” Hutson recalls. “Phoebe and I have the same musical shorthand, which made it really easy to share and add to each other’s ideas.” Beginners mines its subtle textures from Hutson’s warm vocals and graceful guitar work, and also unfolds flashes of sonic brilliance achieved with the help of its guest musicians—including Bridgers herself, as well as Nathaniel Walcott of Bright Eyes (who created all the string arrangements for the album, in addition to playing trumpet).
On Beginners’ softly heartbreaking lead single “Lose This Number,” Hutson reveals one of his greatest strengths as a songwriter: a rare ability to infuse his lyrics with myriad idiosyncratic detail, yet leave the narrative slippery enough for the listener to fill in their own meaning. Throughout the song—inspired by a loved one’s ordeal in what Hutson refers to as “knowing you really fucked up and there’s no way to go back”—his storytelling is threaded with incisive turns of phrase (e.g., “It’s like I was born on the back of a bullet/With your name written on it”).
An album steeped in impossibly vivid memory, Beginners moves between tender nostalgia and self-effacing humor on “Northsiders”—a song about “all the posturing you do in high school because you don’t know who you are yet,” according to Hutson (sample lyric: “Morrissey apologists/Amateur psychologists/Serial monogamists/We went to different colleges”). His often-bemused reflection on growing up in L.A. turns to “this very common experience of kids I knew getting sent to rehab at a really young age” on “Seven Lakes.” And on “Get The Old Band Back Together,” Beginners slips into a strangely joyful mood as the track slowly warps into an epic sing-along sending up Hutson’s own teenage hubris.
The Santa Monica-native took up guitar at age 12 and soon started self-recording on a four-track in his bedroom, largely inspired by the DIY sensibilities of artists like Elliott Smith. Hutson’s universe has expanded considerably since then, having co-written a song on the 2018 debut EP from boygenius and two on the 2019 debut LP from Better Oblivion Community Center (with whom Hutson also toured as both a guitarist and support act). Last year, he toured supporting artists including Julia Jacklin and Okkervil River as well.
With the release of Beginners, Hutson hopes his audience might find solace in his deliberate emotional transparency. “I want people to feel like it’s okay: we’re all here fucking up all the time; we’re all just learning and living, and it’s going to be all right,” Hutson says. “I don’t even know if I fully believe that, but it’s the voice I always wished I had in my life.”