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Old Enough to Know Better: Merge Records 15-Year Anniversary
     

Old Enough to Know Better: Merge Records 15-Year Anniversary

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For many, North Carolina's Merge Records is synonymous with the sound of '90s indie rock. The label was originally founded in 1989 by Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance as an outlet for records by their band, Superchunk. When Superchunk became a college radio sensation, the label grew as well. These days, Merge vets like

Overview

For many, North Carolina's Merge Records is synonymous with the sound of '90s indie rock. The label was originally founded in 1989 by Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance as an outlet for records by their band, Superchunk. When Superchunk became a college radio sensation, the label grew as well. These days, Merge vets like Spoon and the Magnetic Fields are being name-checked on tastemaking shows such as The O.C. and Gilmore Girls. For the company's 15th anniversary, they've invited just about every band on the roster (past and present) to the party. The resulting three-CD set nicely summarizes the label's raison d'être. The first two discs chronicle some "Merge Classics," including the fuzzy folk rock of Neutral Milk Hotel's "Song Against Sex," Butterglory's glockenspiel-accented "She's Got the Akshun!," and Imperial Teen's new wave ode to everyone's favorite Trump, "Ivanka." There's also the loud (Breadwinner, Erectus Monotone), the pretty (M. Ward, the Ladybug Transistor), and a fair amount from New Zealand's fertile indie scene (the Clean, the 3D's). Meanwhile, Superchunk are represented by their fine 1991 single, "Cool," though it seems a bit contrary not to include their indie rock anthem "Slack Motherf**ker" -- perhaps the most famous single Merge has ever released. The third disc consists of rare and unreleased tracks, many of which were recorded especially for this compilation, including the Clientele's standout cover of Jimmy Webb's "Where the Universes Are." Surprisingly, the disc is just as engaging as the first two platters' trip down memory lane. All proceeds go to the Future of Music charity, which makes the set all the more attractive. Here's hoping Merge will be around for another 15.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Tim Sendra
Listening to Old Enough 2 Know Better: 15 Years of Merge Records, you are struck by one simple undisputable fact: Merge is a great record label. Their releases are varied, the bands are almost all excellent, and they aren't afraid to take chances. Their core sound is very much the Superchunk template of hooky songs delivered by impassioned pop punx, but they don't feel compelled to sign only bands that fit that mold. Not to mention the fact that they have put out records by some of the bands that have helped shape the sound of indie rock: Magnetic Fields, Ladybug Transistor, the Clientele, Lambchop, Pram, Neutral Milk Hotel, and Spoon. OK, so put me on the publicity payroll, but what about the compilation you came here to read about? It is a wonderful three-disc trawl through loads of great music with only a few duff tracks here and there. Arranged with no regard to chronology or continuity of sound, it lets you make your own connections (like the Rosebuds sound a lot like Butterglory or that guy in Portastatic sure sounds like the singer of Superchunk [and Bricks] -- thanks to R.T. Clontle's hilarious liner notes for that joke) and allows for constant moments of surprise. The first two discs are made up of tracks from previous Merge releases, and the third is all rare and hard-to-find tracks. This is the real find for Merge fanatics as there is much to salivate over here. The Clientele's cover of Jimmy Webb's "Where the Universe's Are" shows how they handle a song with a verse-chorus structure (smashingly!), the Essex Green's romp through the Sir Douglas Quintet's "Mendicino" is a blast, Spoon's romping cover of Yo La Tengo's "Decora" is fun, Spent's pounding "Corvette Summer" is a welcome reminder of an unjustly forgotten band, Camera Obscura's "San Francisco Song" shows why the label's future is in good hands, and Portastatic's "Some Small History" is a breathtaking reminder that Mac is still able to break hearts with the best of them. Old Enough 2 Know Better is simply wonderful from beginning to end, a must-have item for indie kids both old enough to remember Merge 001 and young enough to be Superchunk's grandkids. So if you can't make it to their big celebration in Chapel Hill, get hold of this set and celebrate the best label in America today.

Product Details

Release Date:
07/13/2004
Label:
Merge Records
UPC:
0036172955022
catalogNumber:
250

Tracks

Album Credits

Technical Credits

John Austin   Composer
Seaweed   Composer
Superchunk   Composer
Pete Shelley   Composer
Bricks   Composer
Versus   Composer
Ivan Howard   Composer
Pram   Composer
Butterglory   Composer
David Kilgour   Composer
Lisa Siegel   Composer
Imperial Teen   Composer
Mac McCaughan   Composer
Destroyer   Composer
Kurt Wagner   Composer
Spent   Composer
Ladybug Transistor   Composer
Third Eye Foundation   Composer
Pipe   Composer
Jeff Mangum   Composer
Nick Roughan   Composer
Pumpkin Wentzel   Composer
Charles Gansa   Composer
Alasdair MacLean   Composer
Annie Hayden   Composer
Spaceheads   Composer
Essex Green   Composer
Clientele   Composer
Andrew Jarrett   Composer
James Hornsey   Composer
Mark Keen   Composer
M. Ward   Composer

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Old Enough to Know Better: Merge Records 15-Year Anniversary 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you love indie rock, or just good songs in general, get this. It is an inexpensive, limited edition compilation that is full of awesome tracks. There is a great variety here, but all of the songs seem to fit well together. This is a great introduction to indie rock and an indispensible necessity to any devoted indie fan's collection. Get this now- it is the best compilation yet this year and one of the best in recent memory (or ever!)