Thursday, June 11, 2009

Algonquin to release Merge book

From the folks at Merge:


The Story of Merge Records, the Indie Label that Got Big and Stayed Small

by John Cook with Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance

Introduction by Ryan Adams

Includes extensive profiles of:

Arcade Fire * Spoon * Magnetic Fields * Superchunk

Neutral Milk Hotel * Lambchop * Butterglory

During an age when big music labels call the shots, and when iTunes and pirated music have nearly rendered vinyl records and CDs obsolete, one independent label has beaten the odds and held its own as a veritable force in the music industry. Merge Records, a small, independent label stationed in Durham, NC, remains in the forefront of the indie music scene. And this fall, to celebrate the company’s 20th anniversary, Algonquin Books chronicles their achievements by releasing OUR NOISE: THE STORY OF MERGE RECORDS, THE INDIE LABEL THAT GOT BIG AND STAYED SMALL (pub. date: September 15, 2009).

Launched by two 20-year-olds, Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance, in a rented home in the late 1980s, Merge Records had the humble beginnings of a great success story. Hand-labeling and shipping each record themselves, Mac and Laura started to make their mark on the independent music scene. They gained popularity by fronting the popular pop-punk band Superchunk, one of Merge’s first bands, in the mid-90s. Over time, the label has become known for discovering some of the best indie bands in the country.

Twenty years later, with just thirteen employees—and a real office—the label boasts some of the biggest bands on the independent music scene, including Arcade Fire, Spoon, Magnetic Fields, M. Ward, Neutral Milk Hotel, She & Him, and more. But Merge still maintains its small-label mindset by producing good music they have faith in—not only what they think will sell the most copies.

Author John Cook traces the growth of Merge along the bumpy roads that led to its success and importance today, through first-hand interviews with Mac, Laura, their friends, and band mates, and other key players in the formation and growth of the label. Featuring photographs the life and times of the label and its bands, as well as concert memorabilia, record label art, and a link to a streaming Internet soundtrack for the book, OUR NOISE tells Merge’s story in an intimate and entertaining package.

John Cook is a freelance reporter who has worked for Radar magazine and the Chicago Tribune. He first fell in love with the music of Merge Records at a Superchunk show in 1994 and has been a devoted fan ever since.

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