The TNB Book Club is proud to offer its members the first FREE bonus book of the year — Our Noise:  The Story of Merge Records, by John Cook, Mac McCaughan, and Laura Ballance — which comes to us courtesy of the fine people at Algonquin Books, easily one of the most badass presses in all of publishing.

Our Noise tells the exuberant story — in words and pictures — of Merge Records, the little indie label that defied the odds to become one of the music industry’s biggest success stories.  This, folks, is the label that brings you music from bands like Arcade Fire, The Magnetic Fields, Spoon, Superchunk, and Lambchop.

A truly inspiring story of great art being made the right way in the 21st century.

Needless to say, we hope you enjoy it — and huge thanks again to Algonquin.

Figured we should open up a discussion thread here on The Feed.  For those of you who’d like to discuss Our Noise…the comment board is yours.

Have at it!



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THE TNB BOOK CLUB is the official book club of The Nervous Breakdown. For only $9.99 per month, members receive a new book in the mail each month, hand-picked by TNB editors. All book club authors will be featured on Other People with Brad Listi, a popular author interview podcast hosted by TNB's founding editor. To sign up for the club, please visit the Book Club page.

7 responses to “Our Noise: The Story of Merge Records – Discussion Thread”

  1. Lisa Rae Cunningham says:

    I am all for badass presses. The Spoon Transference album is one of the greatest innovations of my 2010 record collection. I’m totally gonna read this book.

  2. Dana says:

    How’d I miss this? I just opened my mail and wad so confused. For more than a minute I thought this was one of those drinking while shopping online purchases… COOL! Thanks! I’ll be digging in soon.

  3. Becky Palapala says:

    Bands I have heard of that are in this book:

    Superchunk, Mudhoney, The Arcade Fire.

    This book makes me feel bad about myself. I’m a music snob in a lot of ways, but this is way out of my league.

    That said, otherwise, I’ve enjoyed what I read so far. Just about anything about rocking and rolling is okay in my…um…book.

  4. Robin Slick says:

    I was wondering about this myself but then my son told me last night he got one, too, so I just thought it was another perk of having a famous kid. 🙂

    I just started reading it and know it’s right up my alley. Thanks!

  5. Cheryl says:

    My initial reaction when I saw the package in the mailbox was… yay! Another TNB Book Club book!

    My initial reaction when I opened it and saw the book was… bad. Maybe because I was having a really really bad day that day. Maybe because when I flipped through it it reminded me of looking at someone else’s yearbook. Someone I didn’t know, who was friends with all the cool people that wouldn’t talk to me (or that I thought would never talk to me.) Maybe it’s because I only recognized a few band names from all the band names I saw as I flipped through it – Spoon, Mudhoney, Arcade Fire, and The Magnetic Fields. Of those, I could probably only name songs from two. I have no point of reference for this book.

    The reaction was swift and strong and totally unjustified. And surpsingly angsty. Like I said, I was having a bad day. Spending the day dealing with a slew of mundane yet jaw-clenching-ly frustrating grown-up issues and then being confronted with the book’s innovative graphics and left-of-the-dial aesthetics and references left me feeling like I wanted to punch someone and then cry. It’s like it was laughing at my life.

    For two days it has sat on the end table, and I sigh at it when I cross the room and it catches my eye. I’m on deadline until tomorrow morning, then getting ready for a business trip. I have resolved to take it with me and give it a chance.

    Despite my initial reaction, the whole point of joining this book club is that I hoped to get exposed to authors and works that I might not ever purchase or think to read on my own. Expanding my horizons and whatnot. I hope it is “a truly inspiring story of great art being made the right way in the 21st century.” That sounds like something I might like to read.

    And who knows? Maybe I’ll get some new music to listen to out of the deal, too. You know what, Super Cool Book About an Indie Record Label? We just might be friends after all.

    P.S. Getting a FREE bonus book is really super awesome. Thanks to Algonquin Press and the TNB Book Club for pushing me beyond my little rants and reminding me not to judge a book by its cover. Or by my existential crisis du jour.

  6. When I opened my mailbox two days ago, it was like Christmas . . . but in September. I’m digging through the story now.

  7. Ryan Adams’ introduction is a complete abortion. Here’s the opening line:

    “All my favorite records and your records crackle like summertime crackles like fried eggs stove-side or accidental fireworks backyard heavy in North Carolina on the coast–mid-day it gets so hot even inside, in the cool, the blazing waves of electric orange light pant like a litter of starving dogs just outside the gate–yeah, sometimes you just need comics or records to get you through until the dust settles and the damp evening can cool your brains down enough to see past your own stupid face.”

    Stupid is right.

    Anyway, there is some terrific commentary about the changing music industry and how poorly the major label system handled the post-alternative landscape. I think it’s wonderful to see the little guys–real people, not a corporation–persevere.

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