Monday, January 26, 2009

An Indie Overview

I figured as a more positive sort of follow up to my rant on judging things books by their covers, I've given a quick, and highly biased little rundown of some starting points in independent music. To repeat, this is biased and vary far from complete (For example, I won't even mention Dischord . . . except right here) but provides a lot of great avenues to explore.

Nine Great Labels:

Location: London
While they are still purveyors of IDM (that would be beard scratching electronic music) including Autechre, Aphex Twin and Chris Clark, the always stylish label has broadened greatly with bands like Grizzly Bear, Battles, and Gravenhurst.
Key Album: Autechre - Tri Repetae++

Morr Music
Location: Berlin
Specializing in very warm, almost twee electronic music - Isan, Lali Puna, Mum, Ms. John Soda, as well as some post rock and other unexpected things. They have turned a twee corner, but I prefer the electronic stuff.
Key Album: Isan - Lucky Cat

Rune Grammophon
Location: Norway
Most known for the very dark and spacey band Supersilent, Rune Gammaphone is on the cutting edge of music right now.
Key Album: Supersilent - 6

Smalltown Supersound
Location: Oslo, Norway
Ranging from Jazz to Electronic, I consider this like a kinder, more inviting cousin of the very experimental Rune Gammophon.
Key Album: Jaga Jazzist - What We Must

Cologne, Germany
Between their two annual compilations Total and Pop Ambient, they are putting out the best electronic music right now, from pounding dance tunes to ambient squiggles.
Key Album: The Field - From Here We Go Sublime

Thrill Jockey
Location: Chicago
Thrill Jockey's most notable bands have fallen under the catchall rubric of Post-Rock, be it the Jazzy vibraphones and chiming guitars of Tortoise of the Kraut-rock meets cock-rock of Trans Am (who met at Tilden Middle School). But they cover a wider range of stuff, from Americana to disc-skip electronics (Oval and Nobukazu Takemura)
Key Album: Tortoise - Standards

Location: Chicago
Space rock, post-ambient, whatever you want to call it. Works range from the enveloping layered guitars of Windy and Carl to the almost-classical Stars of the Lid, but Kranky has also released more indie-centric works by Outhud and Deerhunter.
Key Albums: Stars of the Lid - The Tired Sounds of ...

Temporary Residence
Location: Brooklyn
Home to many of the guitar-crescendo Post Rock bands like Explosions in the Sky and Mono, Temp Res also has a number of more experimental acts. They also really like doing limited edition release, which I personally find really tacky.
Key Album: Explosions in the Sky - Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die ...

Domino Records USA
Location: Brooklyn
Opering in the US and the UK, the American branch is perhaps the highest quality of any label operating right now. Domino's roster ranges from Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand to Animal Collective (a recent signing) and Fourtet. Plus plenty of post-punk reissues to boot.
Key Album: Franz Ferdinand - s/t

Up next - three distributors, three heavy hitters, and four reissuers.

1 comment:

Stephen said...

This fire is out of control.

Time to go to Scandinavia.