A Quarter Century of Merge Records

 

By Jacob Eckert

            This past summer was a rather monumental one in the world of independent music, as the legendary independent music label Merge Records turned 25. Once a quite unassuming label, formed in 1989 by members of Superchunk to distribute their own music, Merge has grown throughout the years to release music by such influential and successful artists as Neutral Milk Hotel, Spoon, and The Mountain Goats. Although the celebrations culminated in late July with a four-day festival featuring a ridiculous lineup of past Merge artists, those who did not get a chance to attend such crazy festivities (such as myself) can still benefit from Merge 25 through the wonderful reissues that Merge released over the summer. Reissues such as…

Suburban Light

            The Clientele – Suburban Light : An absolutely gorgeous, low-key, reverb-drenched record that plays like a vaguer, hazier version of The Beatles, complete with Lennon-esque vocals and 12-string guitar.  This debut record by The Clientele is arguably their best, and is highly recommended to any fans of dreamy indie rock or sixties psych pop. Click on the album cover to check out “We Could Walk Together”, likely The Clientele’s finest two-and-a-half minutes.

The Clean Anthology

            The Clean – Anthology : The Clean was a huge figure in the indie rock / post-punk scene of New Zealand in the early 1980s, and the Anthology compilation contains all of the band’s releases across 4 LPs. Arranged chronologically, the release provides great insight into the band’s development from an energetic jangle pop group to a more experimental post-punk band. Click on the album cover to check out “Thumbs Off”, a lo-fi indie pop gem from their debut EP, Boodle Boodle Boodle.

Nixon Lambhcop

            Lambchop – Nixon : Lambchop was the biggest indie group in the Nashville scene of the early 2000s, and Nixon is arguably their most focused work. Kurt Wagner plays with vocal styles on Nixon more so than any other Lambchop release, ranging from the falsetto of “You Masculine You” to the rallying cries of, “Come on, progeny,” in “Up With People”. Carefully arranged, thoughtfully written, and expertly produced, Nixon is the definitive statement of a great and hugely original band. Click on the album cover to check out what is arguably the group’s definitive track, “Up With People”.

Other Notable Releases (click on the album names for song samples!):

Teenage Fanclub – Shadows and Man-Made

Lambchop – Live at XX Merge

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