January 28 street date. Eric D. Johnson, the creative force behind Fruit Bats, doesn't spend a lot of time looking in the rear view mirror. But with the 20th anniversary of his first Fruit Bats release (2001's "Echolocation") on his mind, it seemed as good a time as any to take stock of his work - and he's doing so in the form of "Sometimes a Cloud Is Just a Cloud: Slow Growers, Sleeper Hits and Lost Songs (2001-2021)", a two-disc collection that tracks the history of Fruit Bats from its earliest days to right now. Thoughtfully compiled by Johnson himself, this set is split in two distinct halves. Set in reverse chronological order, the first disc cherry-picks from Fruit Bats' official releases. To emphasize both his reticence at dwelling on the past and to showcase how far he has grown as a songwriter, the first disc kicks off with a brand-new track, "Rips Me Up". If the first disc of this set is the collection that you buy for your friend that is Fruit Bats curious, the second disc is for longtime fans that want a deeper dive into Fruit Bats lore.
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!