Everything Is Nice: The Matador Records 10th Anniversary Anthology
By: Eric G.
It’s hard to beat Matador Records for consistency over the past ten years. The label has been home to such a strangely diverse collection of bands, artists, and freaks that it has become sort of an evil twin of the corporate music world that doesn’t need major label partnerships anymore to make a dent in the music scene. I guess I’ve always known in the back of my head, but I’d never really thought about the fact that many of my favorite bands have been somehow connected to Matador since its inception: Unwound, Silkworm, The Fall, Sleater Kinney and Superchunk have all called Matador home in one way or another. The label’s current roster is pretty unbelievable with acts like Cornelius, Boards Of Canada, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Arab Strap, Belle & Sebastian, and Pizzicato Five, representing everything from electronic experimentation to back woods folksiness and everything in between.
Matador hardly seems like an independent label because its output is so much larger than any other indie I can think of. You could argue that Matador isn’t an indie label at all. Yeah, it’s whored itself out to the majors a couple of times, but it always comes back to reality (both Atlantic and Capital pulled the plug on brief partnerships). Superchunk jumped ship as soon as Matador announced a partnership with Atlantic back in the early/mid-nineties. The partnership might have gotten a few acts signed like Liz Phair (and look what happened with that…), but other than the occasional and rare breakthrough Matador’s bands are mostly the types to stay independent. I mean nobody would confuse Silkworm or Bardo Pond or Fuck for commercial radio airplay. Jon Spencer Blues Explosion has the most potential for making the jump to a widespread audience, but its doubtful that the masses would get it, especially considering the godawful state popular music is in right now. Whose idea was it to combine rap and metal anyway?
This compilation is a confident reminder of how much amazing music is out on Matador. My only complaint is that it’s not really a retrospective look at what the label has achieved. Silkworm isn’t on here. Neither is Mecca Normal or Come or Teenage Fanclub or Chris Knox. It would make sense if Matador were only featuring bands currently on the roster, but that’s obviously not the case since Guided By Voices is on here. With three CD’s worth of music you’d think they’d be able to represent the back catalogue pretty well. Some bands are even on here twice. I’d take a Bailter Space track over Mogwai any day. Oh well. I guess they have their reasons. Even if Matador decides to partner up with a major again it still has a better track record than any corporate label. Let’s just hope the standards stay the same.