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Our Noise: The Story of Merge Records, the Indie Label That Got Big and Stayed Small Paperback – September 15, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From small beginnings, twenty years later, Merge has become one of the top independent labels in the world. --NPR's Sound Opinions
One of the most respected imprints in an often disreputable industry, Merge has defied the odds by releasing some of the finest rock and pop music of the last 15 years. --Chicago Tribune
The fact that they exist and that they've survived is really kind of amazing these days. It's really difficult and they've done really well. --David Byrne --This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.
Top Customer Reviews
The book consists largely of interviews with those involved over the last 20 years (the bands, the Superchunk members, friends, family, roadies, etc.), told in an impressive narrative form that reads as a fascinating story of a group of music outsiders who learned how to make the music they loved outside the corporate system, and make enough money to survive for 20 years and counting. The history of Superchunk is intertwined with the history of Merge (it's about a 50/50 split in the book), so for any even casual fan of this classic band, this is a must-read. But the story of Merge is equally fascinating, as are the in-depth chapter-long discussions of several Merge artists, including The Arcade Fire, Spoon, The Magnetic Fields, Matt Suggs, Lambchop, and Neutral Milk Hotel. I can't recommend this enough.
First of all, since Superchunk is such an integral part of the first two thirds of Merge's history, if you're interested in Superchunk you'll love this book. I was hoping it would go into that with a little depth and was very surprised to find out how much. There is also very honest appraisal of the band's fallen stock in the last decade.
As for "how to run an indie label", this book is great. There's a lot in there about their early business model, how they handled increasing demand, why they didn't have contracts at first, what forced them to start contracts, how big labels treated both Superchunk the band and Merge the label, and much more. For the people who said this book is basically an advertisement, I was surprised to find people readily admitting to guilt - Superchunk admitting to remixing "Hyper Enough" for radio, Merge themselves pushing their artists on the world through definite non-indie channels.
One of the coolest things about this book is if there's a Merge artist you like - from the obscure Butterglory to the ubiquitous Arcade Fire - there's good stuff in there, from both label and artist. Find out how Stephin Merritt annoyed Mac & Laura (it wasn't the major label jump) or Spoon's bass player suing Spoon for allegedly co-writing the first Spoon album (I have been a Spoon fan for over 10 years and never knew that; explains why they don't play songs from the first LP anymore!).
To conclude: GOOD BOOK. LOTS OF GOOD PICTURES. NEEDED MORE PICTURES OF LAURA!
Additionally, it serves as an ode to the rise of independent labels; more particularly, it celebrates the fact that today, bands can make very comfortable livings in the indie-label system with minimal sacrifice of artistic control. Were it the Nineties all over again, Merge powerhouses like Destroyer, Spoon, and the Arcade Fire would have flown the coop to the majors after only one or two albums: and speaking of Spoon, they did once, into a disastrous deal with an Elektra records - whose new management was not thrilled about them. But if you want to know more about Spoon's story, I'd suggest delving into this book.
Unfortunately, at points, Our Noise comes off as propaganda for Merge Records, presenting the label and its stable in a self-serving manner. As a fan of Merge Records and of many Merge recording artists, I see and believe the hype; however, if you're less familiar with the label, it might be hard to peel the layers of praise for the label, its bands, and its philosophies, and see the book as what it is: an "underdog" story of the triumph of independent music and the labels that make it happen.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A interesting collection of discussions with the musicians, roadies, friends, and more about the formation of not just the Merge label but of Superchunk and the situations that led... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Rider of Brohan
This book props Merge, rightfully so, as the model that any and all record labels should model themselves after. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Garrett Cottingham
What a great history of music! This book has inspired me in so many ways. As a small business owner I've been inspired by Mac and Laura's wrestling to stick to their values, and... Read morePublished on December 27, 2010 by Louis Vigo
This book serves two distinct purposes. The first is that of a history of the Merge record label, the second is that of the history of the band Superchunk. Read morePublished on September 29, 2010 by Lee L.
This is basically a promotional book about some bands on the label. Also, the book actually shows how Merge started using most of the same tactics that major labels have used for... Read morePublished on May 9, 2010 by Fuzzle
Preface: Superchunk is my favorite band. But this book -- told via a well-crafted string of dialogue from musicians, producers, A&R reps and friends -- is not just about... Read morePublished on February 20, 2010 by Kyle T. Costello
The reviews give the impression that this book has something to say and that the company it is based on was of any real importance. That is the farthest from the truth. Read morePublished on January 29, 2010 by Sabine Henre
For an essential part of the music industry, independent record labels have a short shelf life. Most either serve as clearing houses for great bands that jump to the majors once... Read morePublished on January 2, 2010 by Trevor Seigler
This books is amazing. Well written and great photos that shows Merge from the beginning til now. This books has alot of behind the scene info that alot of us record collectors... Read morePublished on October 21, 2009 by Chad Cardoza