Survive And Advance
It’s rare to come across a label sampler as immaculate and plain impressive as this one. No wonder, then, that it is the regularly great Merge Records that stand behind this. Operating on the fringes of lo-fi Americana and bedroom pop, Merge is one of the defining labels in contemporary left-of-center pop music, both shaping the current “scene” — to the extent that there is one, Merge is a vital player on it — and, equally important, allowing themselves to be shaped by that scene as well.
This 14-track sampler consists of a few previously available tracks, but offers mainly unreleased stuff, upcoming tracks and rarities from Merge’s varied catalogue. From the brilliant, exciting Imperial Teen-track that opens the album until the exhausting experimental post-rock noise of Spaceheads that closes it, this release makes an excellent case for the label=EDs scope and breadth. And how can you go wrong when the previously unreleased tracks on here include a slab of beautiful, world-weary country from Radar Bros. and some nice lo-fi Latin-infused folk from Destroyer. Or how about some more angular indie pop from the great East River Pipe (whose excellent debut album has just been re-released by Merge), live tracks from Lambchop and The Ladybug Transistor, and a stunning track from Annie Hayden — and much more.
Obviously varying in quality — Merge is far from faultless — none of the tracks on here are anything less than interesting. But this is a stunning overview of some of the most central names on the Merge label, and offers an introduction to newcomers as well as great new tracks for those already familiar with the artists on here.
Merge Records: http://www.mergerecords.com