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Indulge the Urge: the Great Merge Turns 15

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Hey, I’ve got ties older than that, but for a record label, and in particular an indie record label owned by – Ye Gods – ARTISTS (Laura Ballance & Mac McCaughan of Superchunk), that is a remarkable feat indeed. This month sees the celebration of Merge’s 15th anniversary in the ancestral home of Chapel Hil, NC. Here’s a little more history:

    The first couple releases were cassettes (remember those?), by WWAX and Bricks, followed by the first Superchunk (then known only as “Chunk”) 7″
    single.

    The vinyl 7″ was the format of choice for the first 3 years of the label, with cash borrowed from friends to finance projects (including singles from Erectus Monotone, Angels of Epistemology, and more Superchunk) and bedrooms serving as Merge HQ until 1992, when the first Merge full-length release, Tossing Seeds by Superchunk, was released on CD, LP, and cassette.

    With this release Merge also forged a relationship with Touch and Go Records of Chicago, who have done an admirable job manufacturing and distributing the bulk of Merge’s full-length releases since then.

    Since ’92 Merge moved from one charming-yet-run-down office to another until 2001, when we finally made the move from Chapel Hill down the road to a fine old building all our own in historic Downtown Durham, NC.

    In 2004 Merge Records is celebrating its 15th birthday, and while our roster has changed, rotated, permutated and expanded over the last 15 years, the quality we look for in records as fans is still there in the music we put out on Merge.

Here’s the schedule of events for the celebration:

    FREE SHOW: Wednesday, July 28 (Local 506, Chapel Hill, NC) (JUST ADDED)
    TWO BANDS ONLY (save your energy for the weekend):

    THE ARCADE FIRE
    LOU BARLOW

    LOCAL 506 – website includes directions!
    506 West Franklin
    Chapel Hill, NC 27516
    (919) 942-5506

    Thursday, July 29 (Cat’s Cradle, Carrboro, NC): Doors open at 7:00 pm

    SUPERCHUNK – 12:00 am
    M. WARD – 11:00 pm
    THE ESSEX GREEN – 10:00 pm
    RICHARD BUCKNER – 9:00 pm
    THE ROSEBUDS – 8:00 pm

    Friday, July 30 (Cat’s Cradle, Carrboro NC): Doors open at 7:00 pm

    CROOKED FINGERS – 12:00 am
    CAMERA OBSCURA – 11:00 pm
    VERSUS – 10:00 pm
    RADAR BROTHERS – 9:00 pm
    PORTASTATIC – 8:15 pm
    DOUBLE DYNAMITE – 7:30 pm

    Saturday, July 31 (Cat’s Cradle, Carrboro, NC): Doors open at 7:00 pm

    SPOON – 12:00 am
    DESTROYER – 11:00 pm
    THE LADYBUG TRANSISTOR – 10:00 pm
    MATT SUGGS & THEE HIGHER BURNING FIRE – 9:00 pm
    SHARK QUEST – 8:00 pm

    Sunday, August 1 (Carolina Theatre – Durham, NC): doors at 7

    LAMBCHOP (w/string section accompaniment) – 9:30 pm
    THE CLIENTELE – 8:30 pm
    DAVID KILGOUR – 7:30 pm

Click over for links to all the bands and clubs, ticket info, directions, accomodations, etc.

In addition to the live celebration at the end of the month, a 3-CD box set history of the label goes on sale at the Merge webiste today:

    On sale Friday, July 2!

    The compilation you’ve all been waiting for. Old Enough To Know Better (MRG250) will be on sale Friday evening on our web site. Celebrate America’s 228th Birthday (and Merge’s 15th) by buying a copy! Look for it in stores on July 13! All proceeds from the sale of Old Enough to Know Better will go to the Future of Music Coalition.

    As a special added bonus for all of our regular customers (you know who you are), the first fifty (50) people who order Old Enough To Know Better from the Merge Records web site will receive a limited edition poster designed by Mac McCaughan for our 15th Anniversary Weekend.

    This 3 CD musical celebration of 15 wonderful years, collects music from across the Merge catalog with tracks from artists such as Spoon, Superchunk, Polvo, The Magnetic Fields, Lambchop, Neutral Milk Hotel, Versus, and over 30 other artists on CDs 1 and 2. CD 3 is a collection of mostly new or previously unreleased material from 19 different artists including the likes of: Crooked Fingers, M. Ward, Radar Brothers, East River Pipe, Angels Of Epistemology, Spoon, Superchunk, Lambchop, The Labybug Transistor and Camera Obscura (plus 9 others!).

Great stuff. If you can’t make it to the 15 celebration live, at least pick up the box set – a steal at $13 through the Merge site. A great way to sample Merge music is via Merge Radio.

Congrats to all involved – you guys rule.

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About Eric Olsen

  • http://www.markhasty.com Mark Hasty

    Oh, to be in the Triangle that week . . . these are some of my favorite bands, especially Camera Obscura and the Magnetic Fields.