Sorry guys, I’m going full-hipster on this one. Major music labels are SO OVER. Seeing as how I’m trying to be the coolest dude to ever put chucks to pavement in this city, I’ve turned my attention to some lesser-known labels that have captured my attention.
There are a bunch of names here that you might not recognize and some you might. They’re all good, though, so keep an open mind and you might find something you like.
Recommended if you like: R&B, the ’90s in general, sexy music
I’ve grouped these two together, just because they’re pretty closely related. They share a few artists and the acts on their rosters largely play the same type of music. One my favorite things about the Internet is how easy it is to create a label like HW&W. They’re not so much a “label” in the traditional sense as much as they are a group of like-minded individuals with skill at crafting silky, funky music. Kaytranada and Ta-Ku are probably their best known artists, but a few of their members are seriously slept on: Pomo (think Poolside), Sweater Beats (baby-making music), Evil Needle (BEST REMIX OF FINAL FANTASY MUSIC EVER), and Sango (my current favorite hip-hop artist). Check them all out.
Recommended if you like: Aesop Rock, Flying Lotus, Beck
Here’s why I like Anticon: The artists they have on their label are pretty diverse in terms of genre, but unified in that they’re all fairly experimental. As a result, the label boasts some really, really interesting music. Artist like Raleigh Moncries and Baths tend to drift towards the more atmospheric productions, rather than solid pop songs, while artists like WHY? just make indie rap-rock. Also they have a series of Sea Punk tracks…I don’t even know. Every trip to their artist page is a trip.
Recommended if you like: La Roux, Lorde, Owl City
Little Boots? IO Echo? Charli XCX? Banks? All label mates on IAMSOUND. I like to call them an inde synth-pop label, though that’s more descriptive than it is hipster jargon. They’re independent and they like synths. It just so happens that a lot of people (including myself) feel the same way.
Recommended if you like: Com Truise, Rick Rubin, Pusha T
This label is…interesting. I actually came to know about Fade to Mind on accident. I saw Kelela perform live at the Grand Star Jazz Club in China Town one night and was impressed enough to look into her label. Kelela is a pleasure to listen to, but her beats are always really original. That’s thanks in large part to producer and Fade to Mind head honcho Kingdom. The label specializes in its own kind of a minimalist electronica. Nguzunguzu might also be the best name for a producer I’ve ever heard.
Recommended if you like: Maya Jane Coles, Deadmau5
Techno. Plain and simple. Don’t go to them looking for your next Hardwell or Tiesto; these guys don’t really fall into the “EDM” genre at all. Thank god. Admittedly, techno can be hard to get into because the sounds tend to be harsh, repetative, and determinedly non-melodic. “It sounds like noise!” Well, yeah, sometimes it IS noise. But noise can create an environment, too. It’s like comparing a roller coaster to a road trip: they’re both journeys, but method of travel is different. Go to a Droid Behavior show when they’re in LA or have a night out at Das Bunker when they’re playing techno. Free your mind.