Please note new street date: June 18. In late 2019, Kurt Wagner was experimenting with something new, something that would eventually reveal itself as Lambchop's "Showtunes". By taking simple guitar tracks and converting them into MIDI piano tracks, "suddenly I discovered I could ‘play’ the piano", he says. "It was a revelation that from those conversions, I was able to manipulate each note and add, subtract, arrange the chords and melody into a form that didn't have any of the limitations I had with my previous methods of writing with a guitar". Removing these limitations led to a surprising new sound, something akin to show tunes but with edges sanded down and viewed through Kurt's own specific lens. For the first time, longtime friend and collaborator James McNew of Yo La Tengo joins on upright bass. As for the content of the songs, it's tempting to look at everything through the lens of the world we now live in. However, Kurt is quick to point out that these songs were conceived pre-COVID.
Merge Records was started in the summer of 1989, by Laura Ballance & Mac McCaughan, the same summer they formed the band Superchunk in Chapel Hill, NC. The first couple releases were cassettes (remember those?), by WWAX and Bricks, followed by the first Superchunk (then known only as "Chunk") 7" single. The vinyl 7" was the format of choice for the first 3 years of the label, with cash borrowed from friends to finance projects (including singles from Erectus Monotone, Angels of Epistemology, and more Superchunk) and bedrooms serving as Merge HQ until 1992, when the first Merge full-length release, Tossing Seeds by Superchunk, was released on CD, LP, and cassette. With this release Merge also forged a relationship with Touch and Go Records of Chicago, who have done an admirable job manufacturing and distributing the bulk of Merge's full-length releases since then. Since '92 Merge moved from one charming-yet-run-down office to another until 2001, when we finally made the move from Chapel Hill down the road to a fine old building all our own in historic Downtown Durham, NC. In 2004 Merge Records is celebrating its 15th birthday, and while our roster has changed, rotated, permutated and expanded over the last 15 years, the quality we look for in records as fans is still there in the music we put out on Merge. Thanks for listening!