Saturday, January 31, 2009

An Indie Overview Part 2

Check Out Part One Here.

Three Distributors/Labels:
These are all decent record labels in their own right, but are even better as umbrellas/distribution services for a number of smaller labels

Location: San Francisco
Both the label and their associates provide loads of melodic ambient stuff and electronic, and they were also the original home of My Morning Jacket, who used to have the longest hair.
Recommended Release: Hammock - Maybe They Will Sing For Us Tomorrow

Secretly Canadian
A solid label of bread and butter indie rock along with some artier work like Anthony and the Johnsons, their associates can range from the weirder (Jagjaguar) to the folkier (Misra) to the weirdly folky (Orange Twin).
Recommended Release - Jens Lekman - Oh You're So Silent, Jens

Beggars Banquet
The big UK conglomerate which, before it's resent reshuffling, housed the dream pop of 4AD (Cocteau Twins) and the highly underrated Too Pure (Stereolab, Mclusky) and also XL which has big names like MIA, Vampire Weekend, and Thom Yorke.
Recommended Release - Cocteau Twins - Lullabies to Violane on 4AD

Three Heavy Hitters:
These three you may have heard of. There is a lot of good stuff on each label, and honestly a lot of crap, but they wouldn't still be in business if they didn't have some timeless classics.

Sub Pop
Location: Seattle
The granddaddy of the Seattle scene and home to Nirvana in the beginning. At this point they seem to have as many hits with comedy as music, but they still have some big names like the Shins (at least for now).
Recommended Release: Hot Hot Heat - Make Up The Breakdown

Location: New York
As big as the other two, and with a better batting average in my opinion. Home to Pavement, Cat Power and the New Pornographers but also the lo-fi masters Times New Viking.
Recommended Release - New Pornographers - Electric Version

Location: Durham, NC
Starting at the stomping ground for Superchunk, they have branched out from related local artist to include some of the biggest names in rock period including Spoon, Arcade Fire, and M. Ward. Merge is a bit more wedded to traditional indie rock than the other two.
Recommended Release: Spoon - Girls Can Tell

Four reissue labels:
Although labels like Merge, Secretly Canadian and Domino put out their fair share of excellent reissues, some labels make reissuing their bread and butter. These are the current best of the bunch:

Numero Records
Location: Chicago
Numero is simply a national treasure. Not only do they put out loads of completely forgotten and utterly excellent soul, folk and power pop, they also have the best liner notes in the business. They do music compiling like investigative journalists, resulting in loads of amazing forgotten picture and reel to reels to prove it.
Recommended Release: Any of the Eccentric Soul Series

Location: Atlanta
While Numero's release have a relatively consistent aesthetic, Dust-to-Digital's releases range from the monumental gospel box Goodbye, Babylon to an examination of the entrance of Upright Bass into popular music to multiple great compilations of global 78s (the record format that preceded the current form of vinyl records). Each delightful and totally different.
Recommended Release: V/A - How Low Can You Go

Honest Jon's
Location: London
Overview: Co-Owned by Damon Albarn, they have released a number of essential compilations of music made by African Immigrants in England, and now they apparently are working through EMI's 78 archives, which should reveal more amazing lost works.
Recommended Release: V/A - Sprigs of Time - 78s From the EMI Archive

Soundway Records:
Location: ???
Still a young label, they have already put out a number of utterly fantastic African music comps.
Recommended Release: Sir Victor Uwaifo - Guitar-Boy Superstar

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