This week we’re excited to launch our latest record label retrospective, the Merge Records Premium Channel. Featuring some of indie rock’s biggest names you can hear a wide variety of the label’s roster. Find it now in the premium channels section of the Music Unlimited service.
In the late 1980’s, Laura Ballance and Mac McCaughan of the North Carolina-based band Superchunk formed Merge Records as a way to release their own albums in their hometown. Before the prominence of “grunge” in the early 90’s expanded the spotlight to cities outside New York and LA, D.I.Y. artists in a secondary market had to work twice as hard to put out the kind of music they loved. As quoted in the book “Our Noise: The Story of Merge Records” by John Cook, McCaughan says, “People ask the question a lot: why did you decide to put out your own records? But it’s not like there was anyone else asking to put them out.”
During the 90’s the duo expanded their team and their roster, picking up bands like Neutral Milk Hotel, Polvo, Archers of Loaf and The Magnetic Fields. The early 2000’s truly carved the way for Merge’s cache as they released albums from M. Ward, Spoon and Camera Obscura and marking their first Billboard Top 200 debut for Arcade Fire’s “Funeral.” They became music industry phenoms for doing basically the opposite of what the music industry had earmarked as measurements of success, creating an upswell of critical praise and indie darlings.
Most recently, the label enjoyed a massive celebration at the 53rd Annual GRAMMY™ awards, winning “Best Album of the Year” for Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs,” and even more attention was drawn through adorkable actress Zooey Deschanel’s She & Him project and rising artists Wye Oak, Divine Fits and Wild Flag (featuring “Portlandia”’s Carrie Brownstein.)
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