In 1994, while still at high school, Matt Lunsford and Darcie Knight began publishing a fanzine called Polyvinyl Press documenting the local music scene in Illinois. This led them to befriend many bands, artists whose music they loved but which wasn’t getting out to the wider world. Initially they began helping out by setting up record stalls selling local bands’ wares at gigs, then in 1995 they pressed up a split seven-inch, featuring hardcore band Back Of Dave and pop band Walker, to give away with the July issue of the fanzine.
The following year, with a few other releases under their belt, Lunsford and Knight shut down Polyvinyl Press and launched Polyvinyl Records. Early success came with influential post-hardcore band Braid, and over the years the label has gone on to work with Of Montreal, Deerhoof, Vivian Girls, Xiu Xiu, Japandroids, Architecture In Helsinki, and more.
This year, the label celebrates its fifteenth anniversary, with a special show due to take place as part of the Pygmalion Festival in Champaign, Illinois on 24 Sep. The gig will be headlined by Braid, playing their first show together since 2004, and the line-up also includes Deerhoof, Japandroids, Xiu Xiu, Starfucker, Joan Of Arc, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, Asobi Seksu, and Owen. You can also download a free 30 track compilation of tracks from across label’s history.
Keen to join in with the celebrations, we asked Polyvinyl’s UK/EU Label Manager Mark Jiggsaw to put together a Powers Of Ten playlist for us, featuring some of his favourite tracks from the label’s catalogue, and others that have been regularly played at the company’s Champaign HQ.
MARK JIGGSAW’S TEN
Click here to listen to Marks’ playlist in Spotify or listen via multiple sources on Tomahawk, and then read on to find out more about their selections.
01 Braid – Killing A Camera
When I was nineteen and going to school in Chicago, I would listen to Braid’s ‘Frame And Canvas’ over and over again while taking the train into the city every morning. iPods didn’t exist yet but I had a mini-disc player that I put all my favourite albums on.
02 Of Montreal – Wraith Pinned To The Mist And Other Games
Somehow I had ended up living in Champaign, Illinois and working for my favourite record label, Polyvinyl. I remember when I first started working there, Of Montreal had just finished an album called ‘The Sunlandic Twins’ and it was always playing in the office as we packed mail orders.
03 MIA – Bingo
I can’t believe this album is six years old now. I used to play this all the time in the Polyvinyl office too. Sometimes when things were busy I’d come in on the weekends to get some extra work done and, since there was no one else in our office building, this could be heard at full volume down the empty halls, and probably outside too.
04 Starfucker – Bury Us Alive
I just saw Starfucker play in Brooklyn last weekend and they were SO good. What a great bunch of guys making really good music. They are playing the Polyvinyl fifteenth anniversary show too and just released a new video for this song.
05 Operation Ivy – Sound System
I grew up on punk rock. It’s probably the reason why I’m working for a record label in the first place. So in the spirit of reminiscence, here’s a little taste of the sort of punk bands that I grew up listening to.
06 Japandroids – The Boys Are Leaving Town
These guys write killer songs! And it’s hard to believe listening to their records that they’re only a two-piece. They sound just as big live and they’ll be playing the PV15 show (rumour has it they’ll be playing some new songs too).
07 Headlights – TV
Headlights are from Champaign, where Polyvinyl is based. When I first moved here most of them were in a band together called Absinthe Blind. Nowadays, Erin and the guys have a new project called Psychic Twin. ‘TV’ is such a great song.
08 Supersystem – White Light/White Light
This is another record we used to play pretty loud in the office. It can turn a boring or stressful day into a dance party! Matt, the owner of Polyvinyl, is a fan of this one too.
09 Computer Magic – In So Many Ways
Here’s another Brooklyn band making really great music. I saw these guys play live recently and it was SO good. Most of their songs are available for free on their blog.
10 Deerhoof – Super Duper Rescue Heads
A very cool song from a very cool band. Deerhoof will be playing Polyvinyl’s fifteen year anniversary show too. And if you can’t make it to the show, keep an eye on our anniversary blog where we’ll be posting more news and footage from the show!