There is literally no chance you're reading this and are not aware of the Magnetic Fields/Stephin Merritt. It is an impossibility in the world of college radio. Though, perhaps you are unfamiliar with just how prolific the fellow is. In addition to the Magnetic Fields, he writes/wrote music for the 6ths, the Gothic Archies, the Future Bible Heroes, and has done soundtrack/musical work under the name his mama gave him. And when you have your finger in that many pies (sexy, sexy pies), stuff is going to fall through the cracks. Hence, Merritt's "Obscurities" album: a collection of unreleased/alternate/etc tracks from a host of his musical acts.
For this writer the clear album highlight is the sole track from Buffalo Rome, the name Merritt originally used for his bedroom pop project with fellow Mag.Fielder Claudia Gonson. "Plant White Roses" later became a Magnetic Fields song, but I think I prefer this quicker, tighter version. The country-goth vibe is still there ("plant white roses/I wanna die..."), but it's quite nice stripped down.
Unsurprisingly, though, the album is uneven. "Unreleased" collections usually are, since many of these songs are unreleased for some reason, right? But that's not say there aren't some hits on here. Merritt's somber chamber-pop sits next to old Mag Fields songs in their casio-blasting glory and the 6th's weirdly sunny vibe, but all showcase his extremely capable songwriting. The collection is defintely a fans-only affair, but it will remind you just what you love about the man's work. I would die a happy dude if I ever wrote anything nearly as good as his lyric from "I Don't Believe You":
I had a dream and you were in it
The blue of your eyes was infinite
You seemed to be
In love with me
Which isn't very realistic