Synopses & Reviews
Merge Records defies everything you've heard about the music business. Started by two twenty-year-old musicians, Merge is a lesson in how to make and market great music on a human scale. The fact that the company is prospering in a failing industry is something of a miracle. Yet two of their bands made the Billboard Top 10 list; more than 1 million copies of Arcade Fire's Neon Bible
have been sold; Spoon has appeared on Saturday Night Live
and The Tonight Show
; and the Magnetic Fields' 69 Love Songs
is a contemporary classic.
In celebration of their twentieth anniversary, founders Mac and Laura offer first-person accounts--with the help of their colleagues and Merge artists--of their work, their lives, and the culture of making music. Our Noise also tells the behind-the-scenes stories of Arcade Fire, Spoon, the Magnetic Fields, Superchunk, Lambchop, Neutral Milk Hotel, and Butterglory. Hundreds of personal photos of the bands, along with album cover art, concert posters, and other memorabilia are included.
"Freelance reporter Cook and Merge cofounders McCaughan and Ballance trace the history of the North Carolina based record label that started in a bedroom and now releases some of indie rock's biggest names. The story is composed as a book-long conversation between McCaughan and Ballance (also founding members of Superchunk, hailed as the next Nirvana in the 1990s and one of Merge's first major hits) and myriad other voices from the music industry. Started in 1989 in Chapel Hill, Merge always put music and musicians first, with McCaughan and Ballance hand-stuffing the label's first seven-inch releases and eschewing contracts in an effort to keep things friendly. In a prime example of its dedication to artistic vision over pure profit, Merge took a gamble on Stephin Merritt and Magnetic Fields's ambitious three-disc opus, 69 Love Songs, when any major label would have balked. That record made numerous top 10 lists in 1999 and has sold more than 150,000 copies. While some of the label's artists may be beyond the scope of the casual music fan, bands like Magnetic Fields, Spoon and Arcade Fire demonstrate how vital Merge is to the indie rock landscape. (Sept. 15)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The fact that they exist and that they've survived is really kind of amazing these days. It's really difficult, and they've done really well." --David Byrne
In celebration of the 20th anniversary of Merge Records, founders Mac and Laura offer first-person accounts--with the help of their colleagues and Merge artists--of their work, their lives, and the culture of making music. Hundreds of personal photos of the bands, along with album cover art, concert posters, and other memorabilia are included.
About the Author
Laura Ballance plays bass in Superchunk and formed with Mac the Merge Records label. She lives in Durham with her husband and daughter.
John Cook is a reporter for Gawker Media and has worked for Radar magazine and the Chicago Tribune. Mac McCaughan plays in Superchunk and Portastatic (guitar and vocals), and founded, with Laura Ballance, the Merge Records label in 1989. He lives in Chapel Hill with his wife and children.