New website launches
to gear up for Sept. release of the book about Merge Records’ history.
By Fred Mills
It’s called Our Noise: The Story of Merge Records, The Indie Label
That Got Big and Stayed Small, and it’s due in September from NC’s
Algonquin Books. It’s more than just a label profile – it’s like a secret
(well, at times not-so-secret, as anyone who remembers the big media assault on
Chapel Hill in the early/mid ‘90s will recall) history of indie rock, loaded
with enough colorful characters to fill a loony bin, folks like Superchunk,
Polvo, Magnetic Fields, Spoon, Arcade Fire and Lambchop, not to mention
intimate portraits of the Merge crew themselves (the photos of Laura as a goth
chick and Mac as a dreadhead are worth the price of admission alone).
Written by John Cook along with Laura and Mac, the book is
essential reading for anyone who passionately cares about indiedom, and
certainly about the North Carolina
music scene, which arguably would look a helluva lot different if Merge hadn’t
come along when it did. I’ve always kicked myself for moving out west just as
the Merge, uh, machine was kicking into high gear, but since I worked as a
buyer for an indie record store in Tucson throughout the ‘90s I was not only
able to keep up with the scene from afar but could make sure that my local
friends and peers were privy to the tunes.
I read the book a couple of weeks ago and we’ll be featuring
it soon in BLURT of course. Hands down, it’s one of the most engaging reads I’ve
had the pleasure to enjoy lately; it’s almost as if it’s like MY story and YOUR
story as well as the Merge story, if you, like me, often lived vicariously
through some of those records the label released and the artists it nurtured.
To lead up to the publication, the label and the book
publisher have teamed up to create a special website devoted to the book, OurNoiseTheBook.com.
It’s got everything from basic details about the book and the official press
kit to PDF samples of the actual pages from the book and an amazing interactive
timeline of the label featuring mouth-watering reproductions of record sleeves,
gig posters and even embedded videos (the clip for Superchunk’s “Watery Hands” featuring
David Cross and Janeane Garofalo remains one of the funniest in the universe).
You can also sign up to a mailing list that will register you to take part in
an online chat with Mac and Laura close to the publication date.
Seriously, check it out (it was designed by the mighty Steve Pilon of Code 18 Interactive, incidentally). I’ve been giggling for the past
hour looking at it. And I’ve already read the damn book!