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The 6ths is a band featuring various artists and notable guest singers created by Stephin Merritt, also the prime mover behind The Magnetic Fields, The Gothic Archies and Future Bible Heroes.Read More...
The two albums released to date are Wasps' Nests (1995) and Hyacinths and Thistles (1999). The names of both albums, and the name of the band, are deliberate tongue-twisters. The words are chosen for their abundance of s and th sounds. Sixths packs one th and three s sounds into one syllable.
One story has it that the band was conceived when Merritt, observing that there was no tribute album dedicated to him, decided to make one himself. The concept is that Merritt writes songs which are then played and sung by other artists, different ones on each track. It has so far produced two well-received albums and many bizarre collaborations.
The other story (and the more accurate one) is that Merritt wrote the songs, mailed the singers rough demos, their vocals and additional tracks were returned via mail back to Merritt who the results took to his studio and polished them up as finished items. This at least rings true on the debut record, with the singers and composers never meeting in person. A few years later, the Postal Service would use this same tactic and even use the method as their namesake.
The list of singers on Wasps' Nests reads like a veritable Who's Who of mid 90s indie rock starpower, including Miho Hatori, Barbara Manning, Mary Timony, Dean Wareham (Galaxie 500, Luna), Lou Barlow, Robert Scott (The Bats, The Clean), Georgia Hubley (Yo La Tengo) and Mark Robinson.
Some of the more notable artists appearing on Hyacinths and Thistles are Bob Mould, Sally Timms (The Mekons), Sarah Cracknell (Saint Etienne), Neil Hannon (The Divine Comedy), Gary Numan, Marc Almond, Momus, Clare Grogan (Altered Images), Melanie, Miss Lily Banquette (Combustible Edison) and the accomplished toy piano player Margaret Leng Tan.
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