Ridiculously great music at a ridiculously good price

Matador Records, the East Coast indie that’s been a home to Belle & Sebastian, Cat Power, the Frogs, Guided by Voices, Pavement, Liz Phair, Mission of Burma, Sonic Youth, Teenage Fanclub, and Yo La Tengo—among not a few other bands—has a history of putting out really good, really cheap label compilations. The latest, Matador at 21, is their third, and most generous, celebration of self: a recession-proof, six-disc sampler that averages out to just $5.83 per CD.

You’ll hear remastered favorites by Railroad Jerk, Come and Guitar Wolf; latter-day gems by Ted Leo & the Pharmacists, Interpol and Jay Reatard; and an hour’s worth of previously unreleased performances, culled from Matador’s 1999 anniversary shows in New York City—Cat Power’s cover of Phil Phillips’ “Sea of Love” is especially memorable. The accompanying booklet includes emails, eviction notices and other assorted effluvia. (“It’s not all been high-fives and fancy dinners,” Matador honcho Gerard Cosloy explains in his introductory essay.) And while the box itself comes with a set of poker chips—they’re a reminder of the label’s many gambles and well-played hands—Matador, and the artists involved, are donating all proceeds to charity.

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