Polyvinyl Record Co.
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1994 – Matt Lunsford and Darcie Knight found Polyvinyl Press, a self-published fanzine focused on album reviews and documenting the burgeoning Midwest underground music scene.
1995 – The July issue of Polyvinyl Press contains a split 7” featuring Back of Dave (a hardcore band from Alton, IL) and Walker (a pop band from Lafayette, IN).
1996 – Polyvinyl Records is officially born when the final issue of Polyvinyl Press (published in May) features a compilation titled Direction, a 20-track album that documents the mid-‘90s Midwestern D.I.Y. scene.
1997 – Rainer Maria, a band featured on the Direction compilation, becomes the first active band on the Polyvinyl roster and releases their first full-length, Past Worn Searching, in October.
1998 – In April, Braid’s seminal album Frame and Canvas is released, giving both the band and Polyvinyl national attention.
1999 – American Football’s self-titled debut (and only) full-length is released in September, marking the beginning of a relationship with musician Mike Kinsella that continues through his work in Owls, Their / They’re / There, and Owen. For American Football’s 15th anniversary in 2014, a deluxe re-issue of the album was curated and the band re-united to play several shows across the U.S.
2001 – Matt and Darcie (now married) move Polyvinyl from suburban Danville, IL to Champaign-Urbana, IL, a college town with a vibrant music scene.
2003 – The Polyvinyl Winter Tour, featuring Mates of State, Rainer Maria, Owen, and Saturday Looks Good To Me makes its way across the country. Rainer Maria’s set from the show’s stop in Chapel Hill, NC is documented on the CD/DVD Anyone in Love with You (Already Knows).
2004 – of Montreal joins the Polyvinyl family and releases Satanic Panic in the Attic. This beloved record and their relentless touring schedule set the groundwork for the Athens-based band’s rise to mainstream popularity, a trend that continued following the release of The Sunlandic Twins (2005) and Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? (2007).
2006 – The Polyvinyl 10th Anniversary Celebration takes place in Urbana, IL, with performances by of Montreal, Headlights, Owen, and Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin.
2008 – of Montreal unveils its groundbreaking Skeletal Lamping Collection in October, which made their album available in seven different formats – CD, 2xLP (with 3’ x 4’ die-cut horse poster), t-shirt, tote bag, button set, paper lantern, and wall decals – that all come packaged with download codes.
2009 – In an effort to help make space in our stockroom, Polyvinyl becomes one of Kickstarter’s earliest success stories with a campaign to “Save 10,000 Records from Destruction” and holds the distinction of being the all-time most funded project on the site for 57 days.
2011 – Polyvinyl’s 15-year anniversary culminates with a huge outdoor show put on in conjunction with Pygmalion Music Festival. The nine band bill features a large portion of the label’s active roster, including Owen, Asobi Seksu, Joan of Arc, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, STRFKR, Xiu Xiu, Deerhoof, Japandroids, and newly re-united Braid.
2012 – In June, Japandroids releases Celebration Rock, which built on the success of the Canadian duo’s debut full-length, Post-Nothing, and instantly became one of the most critically acclaimed albums in Polyvinyl’s history.
2013 – Polyvinyl begins to revisit classic releases with the launch of a Picture Disc Edition series, that highlights the great artwork and music found on albums such as STRFKR Reptilians, of Montreal The Sunlandic Twins, Architecture in Helsinki Places Like This, and more.
2014 – The Polyvinyl 4-Track Singles Series gives 500 lucky subscribers a new 7” every month throughout the year, all with exclusive songs recorded by 12 different artists (including Cloud Nothings, Into It. Over It., Mikal Cronin, John Vanderslice, and more) on the same 4-track cassette recorder.
2015 – After 10 years of trying to cram way too many records, people, shelving units, and did we mention records(?) into way too small of a space, Polyvinyl HQ moves to a new building all its own -- complete with windows (yay natural light), an actual warehouse, and most important of all...a dishwasher.
2016 - Polyvinyl celebrates its 20th anniversary with a slew of collaborations, including Polyvinyl Plays Polyvinyl (a 2xLP compilation on which 20 members of the Polyvinyl family past and present cover a song by one of their labelmates), a skateboard deck produced in conjunction with Girl Skateboards, and a screenprinted poster and t-shirt -- all tied together by the artwork of Jesse LeDoux, who pulled imagery from 20 classic Polyvinyl releases to create a truly unique design that also serves as a "treasure map" for fans of the label.
This year also saw high-profile releases from a few bands that were around at the label's beginning, including Aloha, Owen, and the long-awaited sophomore full-length from American Football.