February 24 street date. The two full-length records that Jeff Mangum made as Neutral Milk Hotel sound both in and out of time. Like translations of a shared subconscious, 1996's "On Avery Island" and 1998's "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" give voice to the perennial spirit of youthful epiphany, of beginning to see the world clearly, to process and express it - no matter when you encounter them. With lo-fi indie rock, accordion, singing saw, tape collages, the so-called "zanzithophone" and beyond, Neutral Milk Hotel created an eternal entry into their Elephant 6 scene and an enduring feeling of possibility.For all the mythology Mangum's elusive persona has accrued, it's the beguiling songs themselves that have resonated so deeply for generations. In 2011, Mangum collected nearly all of the band's recorded output in a limited-edition box set (self-released under Neutral Milk Hotel Records, a small operation helmed by Mangum and his mother) which is now being updated for wide reissue by the band's longtime label Merge Records.
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!