Venerable Seattle label Sub Pop is two decades old this year, and the Seattle Times has run down its storied history of weathering various industry calamities (from alt-rock’s slow death to the record biz’s slow death) while also managing the deft feat of continuing to expand its aesthetic remit by signing less-than-commercial acts like noize boys Wolf Eyes and sludge punks Pissed Jeans, a luxury in a troubled era that’s perhaps made possible by the label’s ten best-selling albums of all time. While the following list will probably not come as much of a surprise to anyone familiar with the label’s last decade or so, it will probably make a few more labels wish they had signed Sam Beam or gotten a very public shout-out from a Scrubs cast member.
1. Nirvana, “Bleach” (1989), 1.6 million
2. Postal Service, “Give Up” (2003), 902,885
3. The Shins, “Oh Inverted World” (2001), 547,274
4. The Shins, “Wincing The Night Away” (2007), 500,813
5. The Shins, “Chutes Too Narrow” (2003), 462,574
6. Hot Hot Heat, “Make Up The Breakdown” (2002), 282,141
7. Sunny Day Real Estate, “Diary” (1994), 226,388
8. Iron & Wine, “Our Endless Numbered Days” (2004), 220,157
9. Iron & Wine, “The Creek Drank The Cradle” (2002), 133,752
10. Iron & Wine, “The Shepherd’s Dog” (2007), 133,490
I don’t think any of us really expected Earth 2 to place in the Top 10, but Jesus H. that’s a lot of wuss rock and beardy folk. Apparently the Shins will not only change your life but your tax bracket. And Sunny Day sneaking in at No. 7 probably makes Mssrs. Pavitt and Poneman wish they had invested in a bit more proto-emo.
Sub Pop’s Got Some Kind Of Record [Seattle Times]