Top Ten Indie/Alternative Labels You Need To Know

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Top Ten Indie Labels

Record Labels Everywhere So Let’s All Take A Dip

After spending last Saturday perhaps drinking a few too many beers and being pretty blown away by the Fortuna POP! curated Shake the Shacklewell at The Shacklewell Arms (read our review), Overblown got to thinking. There’s a bunch of really amazing indie labels out there in the ether that get somewhat over shadowed by the indie heavyweights such as Sup Pop, Merge, and Rough Trade. It’s about time some attention was drawn to those smaller labels that, in many cases, have bands on their rosters that are streets ahead of the bands on the bigger indie labels. So here, we will list the top ten indie labels that you need to know. On these labels you will find some epic music. Check it all out.

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11. Captured Tracks

Founded in 2008 by Mike Sniper and based in Brooklyn, New York, Captured Tracks are actually probably too big a label to be on this list, but we love them and we’re making the list so we can have whoever we want on it. Captured Tracks is home to some truly excellent modern indie pop and rock like Beach Fossils, Wild Nothing, and the mighty Diiv, who released their debut Oshin in 2012. Undoubtedly, it is one of the best debut albums in recent memory. Recently Captured Tracks showed their willingness to head into heavier territory with their release of Perfect Pussy’s Say Yes To Love. In short, they’re a label that just keeps on giving.

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10. Fortuna POP!

The aforementioned Fortuna POP! are somewhat unique. There isn’t a bad band on their roster. Don’t believe us? Check out the playlist below for irrefutable evidence. Six of those eight bands are on the label. Enough said. Formed in London in 1996, Fortuna POP! has since then been a main stay purveyor of catchy and yet eccentric indie rock and pop. Currently on their roster are Welsh scuzz pop band Joanna Gruesome, shoegaze pop outfit Flowers, and quirky indie punk foursome The Spook School. Who are all fairly awesome. Long may they continue.

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9. Carpark Records

Carpark Records are based in Washington D.C. which is apt seeing as that is the birthplace of seminal indie label Dischord Records. They were formed in 1999 and they sport an eclectic roster ranging from raging hardcore to synthpop to dream pop. Their highlights include Beach House, Speedy Ortiz, and Cloud Nothings. If you are hot for irreverent, catchy, upbeat music, this is the label for you. Keep an eye out for GRMLN’s sophomore album Soon Away which is out in September!

Website // Facebook // Twitter // Soundcloud

8. Buzz Records

There’s only eight bands on the Canadian label Buzz Records, but they’re all awesome. There’s the grungy hardcore of Greys, the scuzzy pop of The Beverleys, and the somewhat mental Weaves, all of which appeared on our list of up and coming Toronto bands! A relatively young label, they’ve only been on the go since 2010 (or at least that’s when they set up their Facebook page), these guys seem to have a talent for selecting only the cream of the crop for their roster. We are damn excited to see what they’ve got in the pipeline.

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7. Erased Tapes Records

Erased Tapes is a bit of a different proposition to the other indie labels on this list. The London based outfit specialise in avant garde music ranging from neo-classical artists like Olafur Arnalds and A Winged Victory for the Sullen to electronic artist Rival Consoles to singer songwriter Douglas Dare. Since being formed by German-born Robert Raths in 2007, the diverse and unique label have consistently released some of the most beautifully melancholic and poignant music of this century. Keep an eye open for their annual tradition: a completely free compilation of artists on their label.

Website // Facebook // Twitter // Soundcloud

6. Transgressive Records

Some great bands have been on the London based label formed in 2004. They released Larrikin Love’s second single “Happy as Annie”, a compilation album by Regina Spektor, and Mystery Jets debut single “Zoo Time”. Not too shabby. But their biggest triumph must come in the form of indie dance quintet Foals. It says plenty for the label that Foals have chosen to remain on the album despite undoubted offers from labels with more clout. They’re most recent success story are the Leeds noise mongers Pulled Apart By Horses whose first two albums were issued by the Transgressive family. No too bad for two blocks who met each other at a Bloc Party gig eh?

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5. Art Is Hard Records

Art is Hard is a label run by two friends out of Exeter. That’s hardly the most glamourous and cosmopolitan of places, but despite this the label have been quite the success since forming in 2010. Their bag is releasing music in odd formats, such as their flexizine series which combines a 7 inch single with a 20 page zine. Some pretty damned awesome bands on their roster including The Death of Pop and Gleemer. This one definitely a label for the future if they continue to release music of such a consistent standard. First step Exeter, next step, the world!

Website // Facebook // Twitter // Soundcloud

4. Glassnote Records

Glassnote gave America Mumford & Sons, but I think we can forgive them that as they also have Chvrches, Phoenix, and The Temper Trap on their roster. Formed in 2007, by music executive Daniel Glass, theirs has been a fairly meteoric rise, helped by the Mumford’s surprise success. Daniel Glass’ insider knowledge of the music industry must have been equally beneficial. In 2011 they broadened their scope outside of indie and into the world of hip hop with the release of Camp by Childish Gambino. Not a label to rest on it’s laurels.

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3. Kanine Records

Releasing Grizzly Bear’s debut album Horn of Plenty is one of Brooklyn based label Kanine Records’ main claims to fame, but there is a plethora of reasons to venture deeper into their catalogue. Do you enjoy a very British sounding variant of poppy shoegaze? In that case Splashh are for you. You prefer moody dream pop? Check out Fear of Men. Actually, you prefer your music artier and more esoteric. Go for Braids. Kanine Records are the pick ‘n’ mix of record labels.

Website // Facebook // Twitter // Soundcloud

2. Big Dada Records

Big Dada Records are interested in hip hop artists that are more interested in created something worthwhile than having a hit. Laudable stuff. And it’s why you’ll find the likes of Roots Manuva, Kate Tempest, and Young Fathers on the label’s roster. Originally created as a counterpoint to the legendary Ninja Tune, the label as grown into a more than credible force in it’s own right. In a rap musical world full of blustery, misogynistic drivel, Big Dada are a breath of fresh air.

Website // Facebook // Twitter // Soundcloud

1. Bonus Label: Dog Knights Productions

This Brighton based label is home to Nai Harvest and Overblown loves Nai Harvest dammit! So much so that we snuck them into the Art is Hard playlist too. Dog Knights Productions been putting out records since 2010, and they are very pretty records indeed. Which partially hides their raucous insides. The label claims to focus on hardcore and punk, and they do a fine job of that. However, it’s in their other genres they sport that the label comes alive. In addition to Nai Harvest, there’s Playlounge with their wall of sound, and Headroom’s fuzzy post grunge. At any rate, check it all out. Now.

If you like this indie labels list, you might enjoy our list of 10 More Indie/Alternative Labels You Need To Know

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