Alibi V.18 No.41 • Oct 8-14, 2009 

Rock Reads

Our Noise: The Story of Merge Records, the Indie Label That Got Big and Stayed Small

John Cook with Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance

(Algonquin Books • paperback • $18.95)

Everything anyone ever wanted to know about Merge Records and more lies inside this nearly 300-page congratulatory volume. Twenty years after its creation by Superchunk's Laura Ballance and Mac McCaughan, the North Carolina label celebrates its triumph over recording industry standards—and rightly so—with photos, first-person accounts and a compilation CD (which, strangely, neglects the early days).

The Velvet Underground: An Illustrated History of a Walk on the Wild Side

Jim DeRogatis

(Voyageur Press • hardcover • $30)

The masses still fail to grasp the full influence of Andy Warhol-molded experimental rock band The Velvet Underground. But for hipsters young and old itching to accent their already cool libraries, this tactile—in a literal move, it's actually wrapped in black velvet—coffee table book, touted as the first illustrated history of the ’60s noise-makers, will satiate obsessions.

Heavy Rotation: Twenty Writers on the Albums That Changed Their Lives

Edited by Peter Terzian

(Harper Perennial • paperback • $14.99)

A mishmash of writers spin yarns about personally significant albums, from Meet the Beatles! to The Queen Is Dead to the original cast recording of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Most of the short stories are engaging tales tethered lovingly to sound. There are a few, however, that bear nauseating resemblance to the clichéd yawners heard over and over in mainstream rock commentary—see the story about "alternative" and Pearl Jam's Ten, for instance.

Free stuff! One Alibi reader (maybe you?) will score a copy of Heavy Rotation by commenting on this article below.