FUTURE BIBLE HEROES with Claudia Gonson & Shirley Simms [The Magnetic Fields], Christopher Ewen & Anthony Kaczynski

Future Bible Heroes

Future Bible Heroes are comprised of celebrated songwriter StephinMerritt (the Magnetic Fields, the 6ths, the Gothic Archies), longtime friendand collaborator Christopher Ewen (Figures on a Beach, the Hidden Variable and a popular Boston-area DJ) and Magnetic Fields pianist-singer-manager Claudia Gonson. The band released two albums, Memories of Love (1997) and Eternal Youth (2002), and three EPs, all of which they are repackaging as one large collection for simultaneous release via Merge on June 4, 2013, along with their new album, Partygoing.

After 11 years, FBH return with Partygoing, featuring their signature mix ofdance-floor filling club anthems and super ballads. Why the long break between albums? Well the tria has been busy. Merritt has made four stage musicals, four Magnetic Fields albums, a Gothic Archies album and done some film work. Ewen has been working on the Hidden Variable and Djing in Boston, and Gonson has discovered parenthood while navigating the Magnetic Fields’ busy post-69 Love Songs schedule.

Traditionally, Ewen created instrumental tracks and sent them to Merritt, who added vocal melodies and lyrics. Ewen explains that Partygoing is more of an integrated collaboration: “‘Living, Loving, Partygoing’ began as an idea Stephin sang into my voicemail one night. ‘Love Is a Luxury I Can No Longer Afford’ began with the lyrics. This time around, we were able to write songs together
using different approaches, and were able to arrange them along the way.”

Merritt says: “For Partygoing I encouraged Chris to let me do more of the work, and just give me skeletal fragments, and then we could toss them back and forth as though we were playing a ‘sport’ of some kind. And I did some remixing, not like Junior Vasquez, but like me, and the results sound a bit more like me
than Chris.” Their imaginative and playful antics with sound, synths and unconventional noises will sound familiar to fans of the Magnetic Fields.

FBH have been characterized as an ’80s band, and while it’s true that they all formed musical identities in that actual decade, they are not new-wave revivalists. The three have known each other for 25 years and share great chemistry and Such disparate influences as ABBA, Joe Meek, exotica and ‘60s psychedelia.
Merritt’s lyrics are both incredibly funny and incredibly sad, as usual: “I never said I wasn’t crazy / I know I’m a loon / I’m crazy for you, darling / And that’s sadder than the moon.” His writing has “a tendency toward science fiction, which sort of matches the ‘futuristic’ synthesizers,” explains Merritt.

Partygoing features 13 quick and catchy songs, and Merritt and Gonson deliver their lines with vim and vigor, particularly on “How Very Strange,” a mean spirited look back at the implausibility of a relationship, batting lines back and forth—it could be a sequel to the Magnetic Fields’ “Yeah! Oh, Yeah!” (sample lyric: “I put a little heroin / In everything you took in”). Another top track is “Drink Nothing But Champagne,” in which Merritt gives his best
impressions of David Bowie and Aleister Crowley, as he sings, “Children, drink nothing but champagne / It makes life shorter / Than drinking water” (and water’s mostly piss!). Merritt’s ode to double suicide, “Let’s Go to Sleep (And Never Come Back),” makes it sound like an adventure, while “Keep Your Children in a Coma” offers these words of wisdom: “You can’t let them
go to school / For fear of bullying little beasts / And you can’t take them to church / For fear of priests.” His lyrics veer into territories few have the audacity to touch. There are fewer zombies and aliens on Partygoing than on the prior two albums, though there are plenty of songs about aging, death, heartbreak, rejection and austerity.

“Write what you know—as they tell you in school, when you don’t know anything yet,” says Merritt. “Those happen to be the themes of most of my work, I’m happy to report. Aging is a great theme for any writer, because one never runs out of material, and everyone over 12 is obsessed with it.” Satan, Guy Fawkes and Warhol show up as well.

Merritt suggests that Partygoing could almost be a theme album about bad advice. “Drink a lot, kill yourself, put up with absolutely anything for unrequited love, overprotect your kids to the point of psychosis, take more drugs, destroy yourself before the elves do, etc.,” he says. “It’s like a parody of the absurdity of musicians and artists being thought of as role models. We are giving all the terrible advice without any of the liberation which is ordinarily its
rationale.”

Moving away from Los Angeles and, to some extent, booze, also have impacted the album. “The songs ‘when Evening Falls on Tinseltown’ and ‘A Drink Is Just the Thing’ are quite old,” Merritt says. “the first describes my experience of living in Los Angeles—and leaving it, which I did while recording Partygoing; the second describes solving all your problems with alcohol, which I don’t do much anymore either. Writing true and heartfelt lyrics is pointless because once you get around to singing them, they’re lies.”

--Gail O’Hara

Luxury Liners

Being on the road is generally not the optimal atmosphere for writing new music. Long drives, loading in, loading out, bad roadside coffee and highway motels have a tendency to dull creative expression. Carter Tanton was able to find inspiration in touring and after releasing Freeclouds in 2011 under his own name, he crafted They're Flowers while on tour in the U.S. with The War on Drugs and later, Lower Dens. Tanton had plenty of time to experiment with new ways of crafting songs using samples and other electronics, producing They're Flowers, his first release under the Luxury Liners moniker, one made with absolute freedom.

Tanton explains, "This record had me stepping away from the guitar and focusing more on my interests in electronic music production. Still, most of the songs were written on a nylon string guitar I found in a basement. I actually thought the record was going to come out like Nick Drake judging from the original arrangements, but I had to bend them to fit the laptop while on tour."

This restriction was ultimately a boon to his recording process and led Tanton to a key facet of his work, deconstruction, in part influenced by John Cale's production of Nico records. Tanton acknowledges the composer's "deconstructing layer after layer of song until the original arrangement is just a trace of its former self. I emulate that, my singing being the only thing which remains constant."

Cale's influence remains with the opening track, "Caribbean Sunset," which uses Cale's lyrics but alters the melodic structures dramatically. The song, originally recorded with the intention of becoming the first of a full album of John Cale covers, is the only one, as Tanton was drawn to crafting his own summery blend of electronic pop as well as recognizing other musicians who have influenced him. "Memphis Alex," written soon after Alex Chilton's death, loosely details a road trip – a car accident with a Mac truck in a snowstorm, ending up in Memphis and meeting Jody Stephens at the legendary Ardent Studios.

They're Flowers retains a clear, twinkling, pop-laced sunny sound as it explores drum programming and sampling via the laptop, Tanton's primary instrument used in crafting the record. Luxury Liners reflects growth, ambition, and, ultimately, the impact of inspiration.

$15.00 - $25.00

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FUTURE BIBLE HEROES with Claudia Gonson & Shirley Simms [The Magnetic Fields], Christopher Ewen & Anthony Kaczynski with Luxury Liners

Thursday, July 25 · Doors 6:30 PM / Show 8:00 PM at World Cafe Live Philadelphia