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Though some of us here at SOTC may be somewhere between “agnostic” and “hater” when it comes to the all important subject of the Arcade Fire, there is one thing we can all agree on: it’s been a hell of a week for the band’s label, the venerable North Carolina-based Merge. They signed the Mountain Goats. They shipped promo copies of the forthcoming Superchunk record, Majesty Shredding, which is an album so good it almost defies description. And of course, The Suburbs topped Eminem’s Recovery on the Billboard charts, giving the label its improbable third top ten record in 2010, after Spoon’s Transference and She & Him’s Volume 2. True to indie form, however, they’re playing it nonchalant. As the label’s co-founder (and Superchunk bassist) Laura Ballance told the L.A. Times yesterday: “The whole chart thing is kind of like sports.” She went on to add: “The need to have a ranking is kind of meaningless. I’m more like, ‘It did good? That’s great.'”
Those too young to remember indie’s ol’ jocks-used-to-beat-us-punks-up-in-high-school generational creed are surely getting a refresher course now. Winning and losing? That’s for people with pom poms and gender issues. Ballance also made a point of interrupting the growing consensus that it was Amazon’s $3.99 discount price on The Suburbs that took it to #1, telling the New York Times‘s Ben Sisario: “Is it wrong for me to want to point out that independent retail also did really well with this record? They made a significant contribution to making this record No. 1. Without them, Eminem would have had it.”
So if you’re following along, you’re basically a bully for caring about something as bourgeoisie as a chart ranking, and if you didn’t support your local record store en route to making Arcade Fire the most popular act in the country, you might as well be team Eminem. Maybe there’s more to this ‘We made, indie!’ thing than we thought.