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Monday, October 05, 2009

A dropped-D metal band we called Requiem

I always get happy when I plow right through a good book. Whether it's a long book like a Harry Potter book or a short one like Carrie Fisher's Wishful Drinking, there's a sense in accomplishment when I finish something in just a few days or even a day.

Usually I take at least three weeks to finish a book, but that's when I only read a handful of pages a day.

What always helps is when I have a great desire to read a book and keep reading the book until I finish. I'm happy to say that I started and finished the newly-released, Our Noise: The Story of Merge Records, in two days. Why? Because it's that good.

I must admit tremendous bias here because I am very much a fan of books that cover the supposed "lost" years between grunge, pop-punk, and garage rock in the mainstream. Seen only as transitional years only years before, I like hearing stories about bands and labels that survived the post-Nevermind years. Merge's story is quite interesting, given how they once were a label that put out a lot of Superchunk 7-inches and (many years) later put out records that debuted in the Top 10 of Billboard's Top 200 chart.

For the most part, the book's format is an oral history, along with transitional paragraphs. There are plenty of quotes directly from the sources (Mac and Laura from Superchunk/Merge are co-authors), and that lends plenty of credibility to the book. Frankly, it's more of question of who wasn't interviewed. Yup, the book is that thorough.

Most of the label's story is told in conjunction with Superchunk's story, and as a Superchunk fan since college, I had no problem with reading page after page. A number of other notable Merge acts get chapters devoted to them, be it Matt Suggs' various projects, the Magnetic Fields, Spoon, or the Arcade Fire, they illustrate a lot without having to go into detail every single band that the label has worked with. (There is an updated discography at the end though.)

Anyway, if you want to read a refreshing take on what it's like for an indie to stay level-headed even when flushed with cash, read this.

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