On Sunday, Feb. 13, indie darlings Arcade Fire stunned a lot of the world – including some very agitated and confused Eminem fans on Twitter – by taking home the Grammy award for Album of the Year. What’s especially exciting about this is that The Suburbs, the album in question, was on Merge Records. The band’s longtime label is one of America’s largest and most stalwart independent record labels, and as much as it’s home to big names like Arcade Fire and Spoon, it’s also always been a promoter of weird and adventurous stuff. Here are some fiercely independent Merge acts who now officially share a label with the winners of one of the Grammys’ most significant awards.
5 The Mountain Goats
Their upcoming Merge debut hasn’t yet been released, but their older records can still reveal why John Darnielle’s lyrics and folksy songwriting are so acclaimed.
Starting points: “This Year”; Tallahassee
Wildly experimental rock band whose songs turn normal ideas of melody on their ear.
Starting points: “Every Holy Shroud”; Today’s Active Lifestyles
3 Neutral Milk Hotel
Perennial indie favourites, whose ramshackle folk is discovered and loved by a new crop of twenty-somethings every year.
Starting points: “Song Against Sex”; In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
Formerly known as Manitoba, Caribou’s heady blend of psychedelic folk and electronica netted their record Andorra’s 2008’s Polaris Prize.
Starting points: “Bees”; Andorra
Noisy, punkish, and fun indie rock – and singer Mac McCaughan and bassist Laura Balance founded and run Merge, to boot.
Starting points: “Slack Motherfucker”; No Pocky for Kitty