Merge Records

Last updated
Merge Records
Founded1989 (1989)
Founder Laura Ballance
Mac McCaughan
Distributor(s)AMPED Distribution [1] (US)
PIAS (United Kingdom)
Selecta (Latin America)
FAB Distribution (Canada) eOne (North America)
Genre Indie rock, alternative rock
Country of originU.S.
Location Durham, North Carolina
Official website

Merge Records is an independent record label based in Durham, North Carolina. It was founded in 1989 by Laura Ballance and Mac McCaughan. It began as a way to release music from their band Superchunk and music created by friends, and has expanded to include artists from around the world, with records reaching the top of the Billboard music charts.



After releasing a number of 7" records and cassettes, the first Merge Records full-length CD release came on April 1, 1992 with MRG020 Superchunk— Tossing Seeds , the band's first collection of singles.

Merge's early successes included Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane over the Sea , The Magnetic Fields's 69 Love Songs , and Spoon's Kill the Moonlight . [2]

The label's first album to reach the USA Billboard 200 was Arcade Fire's Funeral, a 2004 release. [3] Arcade Fire gave the label its then highest-charting release with their follow-up, 2007's Neon Bible , which debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200, [4] and, later, reaching #1 with their third album, 2010's The Suburbs . [5] Other Billboard Top Ten releases include Spoon's Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga and Transference, along with She & Him's (actress/musician Zooey Deschanel along with M. Ward, a popular Merge folk musician) Volume Two. Other notable Merge releases include Caribou's Polaris Prize-winning Andorra, M. Ward's Hold Time, Camera Obscura's Let's Get Out of This Country , and She & Him's Volume One.

In February 2009, due to adverse market conditions it was announced that Touch and Go Records would no longer manufacture and distribute records for Merge and many other independent record labels; [6] Merge had been "under the Touch and Go umbrella" ever since its 1992 release of Tossing Seeds . [7] Merge quickly reached an agreement with the Alternative Distribution Alliance to continue distribution of its releases. [8]

In September 2009, Algonquin Paperbacks released Our Noise: The Story of Merge Records, a book chronicling the label's history. [9] This followed a 6-day music festival in Chapel Hill and Carrboro, NC, featuring over 40 Merge acts from around the world [10] celebrating the 20th anniversary of the label's first release. The label also released a subscription-only 17-disc box set SCORE! 20 Years of Merge Records [11] throughout the 20th anniversary year curated by pop culture tastemakers such as David Byrne, Amy Poehler, Zach Galifianakis, Jonathan Lethem, Peter Buck, David Chang, Mindy Kaling and more, with all proceeds going to charities.

In August 2010, Merge Records released Arcade Fire's The Suburbs to critical acclaim, preceding the band's headlining appearance at Lollapalooza. The album went straight to number one on the U.S. and U.K. charts. Famed director and Monty Python member Terry Gilliam also directed a live online broadcast of the band's concert from the historic Madison Square Garden in New York following the album's release, which was streamed live by an estimated 1.8 million unique viewers. The Suburbs won the Grammy for Album of the Year at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards on February 13, 2011.


List of artists adapted from Merge Records website. [12]

See also

Related Research Articles

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Seam was an American indie rock band from Chicago. Active from 1991 to 2000, it was led by Sooyoung Park, former frontman of Bitch Magnet. Seam's initial line-up included bassist Lexi Mitchell and drummer Mac McCaughan.

<i>Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga</i> 2007 studio album by Spoon

Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is the sixth studio album by American rock band Spoon. It was first released on July 7, 2007, through Merge Records and Anti-. It received critical acclaim and appeared on several year-end album lists. The album debuted at number 10 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and at number 1 on the Billboard Top Independent Albums, selling 46,000 copies in its first week. By January 2010, the album had sold 318,000 copies in the United States. It was supported by two singles; "The Underdog" and "Don't You Evah".

<i>Transference</i> (album) 2010 studio album by Spoon

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<i>The Suburbs</i> 2010 studio album by Arcade Fire

The Suburbs is the third studio album by Canadian indie rock band Arcade Fire, released on August 2, 2010. Coinciding with its announcement, the band released a limited edition 12-inch single containing the title track and "Month of May". The album debuted at No. 1 on the Irish Albums Chart, the UK Albums Chart, the US Billboard 200 chart, and the Canadian Albums Chart. It won Album of the Year at the 2011 Grammy Awards, Best International Album at the 2011 BRIT Awards, Album of the Year at the 2011 Juno Awards, and the 2011 Polaris Music Prize for best Canadian album. Two weeks after winning Grammy's Album of the Year, the album jumped from No. 52 to No. 12 on the Billboard 200, the album's highest ranking since August 2010.

<i>Majesty Shredding</i> 2010 studio album by Superchunk

Majesty Shredding is the ninth studio album by American indie rock band Superchunk. It was released on September 14, 2010 on Merge Records. It is the group's first studio album since 2001's Here's to Shutting Up.

<i>Summer of the Shark</i> (album) 2003 studio album by Portastatic

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"Slack Motherfucker" is a song by American rock band Superchunk. It was the first single released from the band's debut, self-titled album (1990). The song was penned by vocalist and guitarist Mac McCaughan in reference to an indolent co-worker he had at the time. Credited to all four band members, it was the band's second single and first to be released under the name Superchunk.

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  1. Grow, Kory (July 26, 2004). "Hart of the Matter". CMJ New Music Report . p. 14.
  2. "Pitchfork e-zine tells indie fans what's hot and not | The Honolulu Advertiser | Hawaii's Newspaper". The Honolulu Advertiser. 2005-05-08. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  3. Archived July 7, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  4. "Arcade Fire And Taylor Swift Sweep In With New No. 1s". Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  5. "Pitchfork says: Touch and Go Records will stop releasing new music. | WKNC 88.1 FM Raleigh". Archived from the original on 2009-06-09. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  6. "On the Beat: David Menconi on music - The record business implosion is touch and go | blogs". 2009-02-19. Archived from the original on 2011-07-14. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  7. "Touch and Go to cut staff, distribution services | Pop & Hiss | Los Angeles Times". 2009-02-18. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  8. Code18 Interactive. "Our Noise: The Story of Merge Records". Archived from the original on 2009-07-16. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  9. Malitz, David. "XX Merge: The Definitive List of 20 Things to Know - Post Rock". Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  10. "Merge Records SCORE! Merge is 20!". Archived from the original on 2010-10-17. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  11. "Artists". Merge Records. Retrieved September 5, 2020.